Our favorite street photographer, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York (featured on Grist List here, here, here, and here), was recently approached by clothing company DKNY, which offered him $15,000 to use 300 of his photos in store displays. Stanton declined, feeling that $50 a picture was not worth selling out for. He asked for more money, and DKNY said forget it — but it turns out they just meant “forget us paying you anything,” because they went ahead and used his photos anyway.
Stanton’s extremely classy response was to ask the company to donate $100,000 to the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA, which I like because it is my YMCA. More elliptical machines for me! No, actually, Stanton wanted this donation to go to the much more admirable goal of sending city kids to summer camp. DKNY’s slightly less classy rejoinder was to admit that they screwed up and donate $25,000 instead. So Stanton is calling on his fans to make up the shortfall. His Indiegogo campaign has already raised more money than a giant multinational photo-stealing corporation was willing to contribute.
The hundreds of photos Stanton has taken for Humans of New York present a colorful, touching, beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking vision of the city, and I’m not at all surprised to find that he cares more about local kids than about his own wallet. If he can raise the full $75,000, that money plus the DKNY donation will be enough to give 300 kids a potentially life-changing experience.
But I still wish he’d raise money by selling calendars instead. Brandon! I live in New York now and I want a HONY calendar! Call me!