26 Beautiful Portraits of New Yorkers Showcase the True Meaning of Love

26 Beautiful Portraits of New Yorkers Showcase the True Meaning of Love

Since 2010, Humans of New York has warmed hearts far beyond the Big Apple. The blog is a global phenomenon with creator Brandon Stanton touching on countless themes: loss, poverty, strength — the list goes on.

Stanton's willingness to photograph and present each of his subjects without judgement results in an intimacy that has bred a cultural touchstone for our generation. If you follow the blog closely, you'll notice one subject in particular surfaces again and again: love. 

Stanton has chronicled countless types of amour. The result is a diverse array of posts that open up readers to all types of romance. 

Here are 26 of HONY's most beautiful love stories that showcase the beauty of love and its changing forms. 

1. Love can be old ...

"We met 48 years ago at a Halloween party."
"Do you remember the costumes you were wearing?"
"We were the only two not wearing costumes, actually."

2. And new

"We just met."

3. Love can transcend shape ...

"I've got a lot of faults. I'm sure I'm not easy to live with. I'm not the best communicator. And I'm sure it's not very cool to see your man crawling on the floor of a hotel room. But she loves me."

4. Type ...

"We were best friends in high school." 
"Did you both know the other was gay?"
"I knew she was. She didn't know I was." 
"So how did she find out?"
"I wrote her a love letter."

5. Genre ...

"From the outside, Metal looks very aggressive and nonconformist. But that's just because we get all our aggression out in music, and not by doing some other shit. It's actually a very loving community. No matter where you're from, or how much money you make, a metalhead is a metalhead."

6. And species

"I see something in animals that I don't see in humans. They have a focus and energy that humans don’t have. They just want to live. They aren't trying to impress anyone. They aren't trying to hurt anyone for no reason. Even the rat you see in the subway — his only thought is finding the food he needs to survive. Animals only want to live. It's humans that demand more than they need."

7. Sometimes we need celeb love.

"What was the saddest moment of your life?"
"When Lady Gaga cancelled her Born This Way tour."

8. And sometimes celebs need normal love.

"What's your favorite thing about her?"
"She still gets giddy when she sees a firefly."

9. Fast love doesn't have to be fleeting.

"We met in August, started dating in September, got engaged in October and married in November. That was 43 years ago."

10. And self-love doesn't have to be a bad thing.

"A coworker asked for my number the other day. My friends overheard and said: 'He must have a thing for Indians.' I was like, 'Or maybe I'm just really fucking cool.'"

11. In fact, self-love can be awesome.

"If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?"
"Be yourself."

12. But so can significant other-love.

"We're coming up on a year of marriage."
"Tell me your favorite thing about each other."
"Her ability to intuit my moods."
"Her living room choreography of every song that comes on the radio."

13. It's okay to be picky ...

"He's all the man a girl could ever want. If I want to see a movie, and he doesn't want to see it, we go and see it."

14. And not-so-picky

"Ladies not yet rich but very well off will also be considered." 

15. It's okay to keep secrets ...

"These two were acting like complete teenagers. When I walked up, she was nuzzling her head against his shoulder. She giggled the entire time I talked with them, while he kept a big goofy grin on his face. And whenever I asked about their relationship, she clutched his arm, looked at him just like this, giggled, then said: "We're not telling!""

16. And to be skeptical

"The more times I fall in love, the less sure I am about love."

17. It's also okay to surprise people.

"What was the happiest moment of your life?"
"When I proposed to my wife."
"How'd you do it?"
"Well, the first time we ever met, we played Clue with another couple. So when I was ready to propose, I set up a game with the same couple who introduced us. Then I put the proposal in the envelope where the final answer normally is. The funniest part is, when she opened it, she said: 'Wait. Does this mean I didn't win the game?'"

18. Because even surprisers love surprises.

"Girl-in-black was explaining how much she enjoyed the fact that girl-in-white always wrote her handwritten notes. As she was explaining this, I noticed that girl-in-white's eyes were lighting up. She turned to girl-in-black and said: "Can you cover your ears for a second?" 

Then she leaned toward me and whispered: "She doesn't know this yet, but it's our anniversary this weekend, and I've just covered the entire house in sticky notes."

19. Everyone should feel puppy love ...

"His owner told me that according to a Native American myth, dogs with different colored eyes can see both heaven and earth."

20. And brotherly love

Me: "What's your favorite thing about your brother?"
Red Glasses: "He plays with me."
Blue Glasses: "Don't forget I'm a good speller."
Red Glasses: "Oh yeah."
Blue Glasses: I help him with his homework. A lot."

21. And someday, everyone is bound to feel loss.

"I've had two loves. One of them died. The other left me for another man."
"Which hurt more?"
"If I'm being honest, the second one."

22. But laugh a little, and you'll feel better.

"He's always doing this bit where he does something absolutely ridiculous, then he puts on an English accent and asks: 'Does that make you horny?'"

23. Or touch foreheads — that usually works.

"Seen near Lincoln Center."

24. In short, love can be a great adventure.

"He kidnapped me last year and has been taking me around the world ever since."

25. Full of twists and turns

"What's the hardest part about being a dad?"
"Probably just realizing that my time with him is going to run out."

26. When you go on yours, remember to take lots of pictures.

"Dear Brandon,

My boyfriend had given me a copy of your book as a gift for our sixth anniversary today. Curiously perplexed by his uncharacteristic gesture, I observed the pages to come across a photo of us, standing on 42nd Street, exactly one year earlier. Shock sprawled across my face and emotion flooded my heart. My mind wandered back to the six months that had preceded this night, which had relentlessly challenged our hearts and nearly broken our bond. It was this night, on our fifth anniversary, that we vowed not to give up; and it was this night that began the start of our greatest year together. I never imagined that I would be staring into this moment again. A moment so fleeting that it had escaped us, lost to the chaos of our times; yet here it is, so beautifully captured and for all the world to see. Though we may be strangers, you have given us the greatest gift of all. Thank you so very much. 

With much love,