Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York, a book of more than 400 portraits of the city's colorful personalities, was released this week. Here: "When my husband was dying, I said: 'Moe, how am I supposed to live without you?' He told me: 'Take the love you have for me and spread it around.'" (AP Photo/St. Martin's Press, Brandon Stanton)

"I'm studying to get a PhD in neuroscience, but in my free time I like to perform in burlesque shows." Stanton's photoblog has more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook. (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

"I'm not a ham. I'm the whole pig." (AP Photo/St. Martin's Press, Brandon Stanton)

Stanton, who lives in Brooklyn by way of Atlanta, has taken more than 10,000 photos of New Yorkers. (AP Photo/St. Martin's Press, Brandon Stanton)

"He was born on Saint Patrick's Day, and every year they throw him a parade!" (AP Photo/St. Martin's Press, Brandon Stanton)

"I really don't have time to talk; these shadows are changing every second." (AP Photo/St. Martin's Press, Brandon Stanton)

"We're learning about angles." (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

"All I do is drink, smoke, and dance." (AP Photo/St. Martin's Press, Brandon Stanton)

"This guy was dancing for tips on the sidewalk. I asked him to try and put all his skill into a single move, and this is what I got." (AP Photo/St. Martin's Press, Brandon Stanton)

Wizard of New York. (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

"We've been best friends since 1967," says this pair. (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

"Is this for Fashion Week?" asked Stanton. "Nah, I just got out of jail. I've been wearing this shit for two weeks." (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

A creepily convincing Michael Jackson impersonator. (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

Seen in Times Square. (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

A family in the far Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy. (AP Photo/Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton)

15 Poignant Portraits Of New Yorkers

The irresistible blog Humans of New York is immortalized in a book as moving as the city itself.

He's the people's paparazzo: a photographer who gathers the stories and portraits of New Yorkers on the streets and subways, in playgrounds and shady alleyways, parading, dancing, or wading in wedding dresses at Brighton Beach.

Brandon Stanton, who founded the irresistible blog Humans of New York in the summer of 2010 as a “photographic census of the city,” has since become an Internet celebrity, with more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook. This week, the 29-year-old Brooklynite released Humans of New York, a 304-page book derived from three years of work on his blog. Selections of his best urban portraiture are accompanied by profiles and interviews. New York personality abounds.

Stanton, who grew up in Atlanta and worked for three years as a bond trader in Chicago, treats New Yorkers as an exotic species, with plumage and markings unlike those of any other group of Homo sapiens. In his cast of more than 10,000 characters, there’s the green-haired granny with frog mittens and butterfly barrettes, the 5-year-old in a pilot costume, the mustachioed neuroscientist by day/burlesque performer by night, and the creepily convincing Michael Jackson impersonator.

Their brief interviews are often as powerful and entertaining as their portraits: “Good news!” says one portrait subject, “All remaining mysteries of the universe were solved yesterday afternoon.” Other portraits range from the poignant to the tragic to the melodramatic: a group of cops next to a covered dead body; the homeless man who says his only dream is to go fishing; a guy, just out of jail, wearing tattered clothes that Stanton mistook for Fashion Week avant-garde.

Then there’s Wendell, dressed in wrapping paper and a tutu, who constantly screams “pay me, bitch” and laments that “the shuttle left Earth” without him. Stanton's photographs and his subjects’ quotes humanize the nameless herds of commuters who get in your way on the subway every day, revealing their personal tragedies and joys. HONY has inspired hundreds of copycat blogs the world over, including Humans of Dublin, Jerusalem, Rome, and Budapest.

The book is funny, dark, visually stunning, and often deeply moving, much like the city itself. Humans of New York, published by St. Martin's Press, is available here.

All photographs by Brandon Stanton.

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