Any New Yorker, whether they want to admit it or not, wants to be featured on the popular photo blog Humans of New York. The photoblog reaches over 11 million people and features people in the city and showcases things that are unique about them. Certain stories that founder Brandon Stanton is able to get out of them will bring a tear to your eye or joy in your heart. One student at Manhattan College had the opportunity to be featured on the popular photo blog and the response to his photo came back in huge numbers. It once again showed that a picture can say a thousand word.
Anyone living in New York knows that there are an endless amounts of musicians in the subway. However, in the sea of musicians, one caught Stanton’s eye. Senior Kayhan Barateli is an engineering student who has a strong passion for music. He was in the middle of a subway performance with his guitar and a small amp when Stanton approached him and asked to take his picture.
“I’m used to people regularly asking to take my picture,” Barateli said. “It’s usually on a smartphone. This man came up to me and asked if he can take my picture. He had a nice camera around his neck. From experience, I know this is a staple for photographers and journalists alike. Most of which I encounter are usually doing projects for neighboring colleges (NYU, Columbia, Brooklyn College, Pace, Hunter).”
Barateli treated this like any other encounter and then the photographer told him who he actually was and that is when things changed.
“He then told me he was the founder of HONY. I was a combination of surprised and star-struck,” Barateli said.
For anyone who is familiar with the photo blog, it is a staple of Stanton to ask the people in the picture questions and sometimes they are often darker than uplifting.
“He asked me questions along the lines of ‘what was the saddest moment of your life or what was the scariest moment of your life?” Barateli said. “Personally, I found them a little depressing. It put me in a reflective state during the interview. Granted I’ve dealt with my hardships in life as best as I could, I wanted my answers to be more about constructively moving forward instead of overemphasizing the turmoil itself.”
However, one line in the interview struck Stanton and that was the one quote he used to attach the picture in the blog.
“My name’s Kayhan, but I go by ‘Lefty.’”
“The quote he took was at the end of the interview as we parted ways. He was laughing as he went his way,” Barateli said.
Fans of HONY know that the response on the photos come in huge numbers and with 11 million sets of eyes seeing the photo it is bound to strike a chord with certain followers. And for some subway musicians, like Barateli, it gives them a huge platform for exposure.
“Only five minutes later, my phone explodes with messages from friends and family that I made the page,” Barateli said. “I’m honored to be featured in Stanton’s work. I’ve been a fan since I heard of him when I was age 16. I’ve been getting awesome feedback.”
The photo has close to 145,000 likes on Facebook and over 2,500 comments. On the HONY website the photo has over 2,200 notes and on Instagram the photo reached over 100,000 likes.
With graduation quickly approaching for the senior, Barateli plans to incorporate engineering with his love for music.
“Computer Engineering is a flexible major, so I would many doors open when I get my masters degree,” Barateli said. “My future plans include designing sound gear and concert lighting. I figure I can have my love of music and engineering accent each other that way.”