HONY: PAKISTAN SERIES
Humans of New York (HONY) is a photo blog run by Brandon Stanton, which shares the stories of people living in New York. This past summer Stanton took his camera to Pakistan, where he documented the struggles and successes of the Pakistani people. HONY is primarily online, they have a website and Facebook page. There is also a #1 New York Times bestselling book comprised of the images and posts Stanton has taken.
The Pakistan Series tells a few stories, but the one I am focusing on is the subseries that highlights the story of Syeda Ghulam Fatima, an activist in Lahore working to end modern day slavery, called bonded labor. Fatima works with the Bonded Liberation Front NGO, an organization dedicated to saving people enslaved in the brick kilns of Pakistan. Stories of people who Fatima has saved were published on HONY, detailing the struggles they have gone through — from abuse to loan debt to running away. People all over the world have read these stories and decided to give back. Within a few days of publishing the story, over $2 million was donated to the Bonded Liberation Front to help fight bonded labor. Social media helped spread awareness of the issue and the fact that someone was working hard to fight against it.
When looking through the website, I could not find any clearly labeled sponsors or brands other than it’s own. This series is somewhat similar to the other content from HONY, however this time it is not in New York but Pakistan. This specific story on Fatima and bonded labor is part of a larger series, the Pakistan Series, which highlights citizens of Pakistan and their stories.
The entire HONY blog is innovative because it is simply pictures and (in some cases) only a few words. Everyone’s story and picture is shared across multiple media platforms across the world. HONY is a unique form of photojournalism that is among the first of it’s kind in regards to campaign size.
The Pakistan Series was widely received in the media. NBC, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and more news outlets did stories on the Pakistan Series. This generated so much media attention because people all over the world banded together to help raise money for the people in these stories. The fact that over $2 million was raised in just a few days is newsworthy alone, not to mention all the other people that received help as part of this campaign.
Other brands should note the natural humanitarian side of people. Everyone has something they are passionate about, and most people are willing to help out. Photojournalism is all too often overlooked; a lot of power lies within a photograph and a few words.