It was October 2006, I was a freshman at the Rochester Institute of Technology studying photography, and I was sitting on a stoop in Brooklyn with my friend Eve Blazo. We were talking about how we wanted to somehow meet or connect with everyone in the world and how amazing it would be to hear all the stories and experiences. It was mostly idealistic rambling between two teenagers, but the conversation stuck with me.
Fast forward a year. In 2007 transferred from RIT to New York University and spent most of my time wandering around the city taking photos of people and talking to them about their experiences. I knew at this point that I was going to be dropping out of college at the end of the year and I kept thinking about how I could put these photos to use. I always thought about how I could put together a blog and put the stories with the images. I was inspired by photographers like Jim Goldberg and kept thinking up ways to put this idea into the world.
Fast forward to 2010. A guy I don't know, Brandon Stanton, starts a project called Humans of New York. The rest is history. He takes great portraits of people in New York City and posts them with quotes from his conversations with them. His work is great and he's seen great success.
Just to be clear, Brandon didn't steal my idea. I really love Humans of New York. But the fact of the matter is that I could've started a similar site years earlier. I had numerous opportunities to do so, but I didn't pull the trigger. As you can read above, I did a lot of thinking about this project - unfortunately thinking doesn't create anything. If it did everyone would be rich and successful.
Brandon had an idea and started. He put it into the world. I had the photos and the stories but I didn't act on it. I wish I could say this was the only example of something like this happening to me, but it's not.
I'm writing this post mostly as a reminder to myself: If you have an idea, act on it and create something. Does it mean it will work? Of course not. But clearly if you don't act, someone else will. There are endless opportunities in the world, but if we ever want to live the lives we want we need to act on as many of those opportunities as we can. If we don't, there will always be a Brandon Stanton somewhere who does.