WTSR: What kind of process do you use to choose who you’re going to interview?
Brandon Stanton: That’s also changed. When I started, it was very photography based. I was looking for visual cues, such as eccentric and stylish people. But then, as the blog evolved and became more about storytelling, the interview process became so important. The one thing that I really starting looking for was people that I could approach, someone who looked like they had thirty minutes to talk. All of a sudden, time became so important. I needed someone to give me their time. Beyond that, I tried to make it as random as possible. The one thing, these days, that I look for, more than anything else, is someone who looks that they have a moment to talk. Normally, that’s someone on a bench or someone smoking a cigarette. Normally, that’s not a businessman walking 60 miles an hour on the sidewalk, looking at his watch.
WTSR: Is it hard to cope after you hear some of the more depressing stories from the people you interview?
Brandon Stanton: It’s getting more difficult. The interview process is getting more in-depth. I feel like we’re diving more and more into these people’s lives. They really are becoming more like intense therapy sessions, multiple times a day. Add that to the energy of walking up to strangers; not all of them say yes. Half of them say no, some of them very rudely. That is a lot of energy exchange throughout the day. You cannot help but absorb the energy of these stories, whether they be sad stories or happy stories, along with absorbing the rejection of people on the streets who tell you no. That does sometimes weigh on you and stick with you, and requires me to steel myself sometimes. The hardest was definitely when I was interviewing Syrian Refugees. Those stories were all so tragic. It seemed like one of them, every single day, just completely killed me. Knowing that, hearing their story, hearing what they have been through, and coupling that with knowing that when you left….
WTSR: It’s not going to get better.
Brandon Stanton: It wasn’t going to get better. They had such a hard path in front of them. It was very difficult to do, eight to ten days in a row.
WTSR: What’s your opinion on the Facebook page Lizard People of New York?
Brandon Stanton: Somebody has got to document those lizards. I’m glad someone’s out there documenting their evil schemes, and more power to them.
WTSR: I’m sorry, I had to ask!
Brandon Stanton: No, no, no. It’s ridiculous… sometimes I look at it and get a little chuckle out of it and shake my head. When it first started, I wrote a couple comments and how I was really a lizard and how he would never defeat me….
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