Brandon Stanton Feels like 'Child Again'

Brandon StantonToday we’re kicking off a pretty cool project. We’ve teamed up with Brandon Stanton, the financier-turned-photographer behind the cult favorite Humans of New York Tumblr. We spent some time with him traveling around the U.S. as he captured the beauty (and the baggage) of our train passengers.

Stay tuned to our blog, where we’ll release a new portrait of our customers everyday for the next 31 days in an adventure we’re calling #AmtrakStories. Each one of you has a story to share, and today we’re starting with Brandon himself!

Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations. Of all the locations you visited, which stood out the most?

I’m a city guy, so I really I enjoyed Chicago.  It was also a major Amtrak hub, so there were so many trains terminating or passing through from so many different parts of the country.  I loved the energy of Union Station, and the building itself was quite beautiful.

On the other hand, we went to a couple very small towns in Mississippi–Hattiesburg and Meridian.  The slow pace of life and natural beauty of these areas was an interesting contrast to urban life. I also very much enjoyed my time there.

All Aboard: We pride ourselves on being America’s Railroad. Were you surprised by the diversity of people and stories you found when you traveled?

Brandon: Pleased, but not necessarily surprised.  I’ve had some experience photographing in train stations, and I know that they are the best places to go if you want to encounter a wide variety of people.  We photographed all kinds of people–from nuns in Chicago to student musicians in Meridian, Miss.

Trains offer people a sense of adventure. What do you like best about traveling?

Seeing a new place for the first time is about as close as you can get to feeling like a child again.  It’s invigorating to travel, and to be reminded that there is so much of the world that you haven’t seen yet.  It really kickstarts your sense of wonder to realize that no matter how much you’ve traveled, you’ve only experienced a tiny sliver of what this world has to offer.

Passengers are often inspired by the beautiful scenery they see from our trains. What inspires you?

Due to my line of work, I think I’m most inspired by people themselves.  Not only the endless varieties of styles and appearances that appear across regions and cultures but also the endless variety of stories that can be told by even the most unassuming individuals.

If you could travel anywhere in the U.S. by train where would you like to go? What would you do there?

I probably would go to California, not just because the destination is great, but because of all the scenery that I’d see along the way.  The culture, scenery and climate is very different from New York City, so I enjoy the contrast.  And like always, I’d probably photograph people.