Humans of New York Captures Street-Style Celebrity Portraits at the Met Gala


Since 1971, the Met Gala has been the fashion industry’s premier annual red carpet event. Some of the biggest names in arts, fashion, and entertainment flock to the exclusive gathering that raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

Photographer Brandon Stanton, who has become quite well known for his intimate portraits of New Yorkers on Humans of New York, was invited by Vogue to document the glitzy gathering with his trademark, street-portrait style.

Accustomed to capturing the unique personalities of ordinary people going about their everyday lives, Stanton took the same approach to his celebrity portraits.

“I’m a believer in the ordinary person, that the ordinary person is just as important and has an equally unique perspective on the world as someone who is famous or perhaps more privileged,” he tells Vogue.

Speaking to Mashable, he says, “My goal was to keep my interviews the same as they’d be on the street, even though everyone was carrying cocktails and wearing tuxedos […] [I] was just hoping to walk away with a few humanizing photos that didn’t come off as glorification of celebrity culture.”

As with all of Stanton’s portraits, these images are not captioned with identifying names but rather simple quotes that offer a peak into the subject’s life. The portrait above of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen has the quote, “He broke up with me once. For a day.”

Here are some of the portraits and quotes Stanton captured that night:


“What’s your favorite thing about your father?”

“His sense of humor.”

“Can you tell me the time you most appreciated his sense of humor?”

“My cousin died a couple years ago, and it was very tough for the entire family. A bunch of cars were following us in the funeral procession, and my dad led everyone around a cul-de-sac three times.”


“Do you remember the most frightening moment of your life?”

“Walking up the stairs of the Met in this dress.”


“What’s the most frightened you’ve ever been?”

“Right now. I’m in charge of making sure these statues don’t get damaged.”


“A few years ago, I’d probably feel pressured to be in there mingling. Now I just do what’s comfortable.”


“What’s your favorite thing about your wife?”

“Her creativity.”

“When were you most impressed by her creativity?”

“When she made this dress.”


“One time we were driving through Italy, and we were listening to a radio station that played nothing but melodramatic Italian love songs. So we started inventing translations. The stories we made up kept getting more and more ridiculous, until soon we were both in tears.”


“Two days after I learned about my father’s cancer diagnosis, I moved across the country to be with him. One of the greatest gifts of my life was being able to spend those last sixteen months with him.”

“What was the most powerful moment of those sixteen months?”

“Taking him to his last Super Bowl.”


“She’s my Rock of Gibraltar.”


“What’s your favorite thing about her?”

“She still gets giddy when she sees a firefly.”


“All that matters is love and friendship. Everything else is just a game.”

Image credits: Photographs by Brandon Stanton and used with permission

  • Roger

    I don’t get it. This really seem like snapshots a random tourist may take. I do not see any artistic or journalistic value in the images. Images are not even well composed.

  • Vlad Dusil

    I believe Brandon’s work is more about the stories than the photographs. This being said, I feel like his work on the streets of NYC is much more impactful than celebrities.

    By the way, Michael, you back in action at PP?

  • Norma Jeanne

    Who were those people and why do they matter?

  • Ashton War

    He says the same in interviews. His goal is “to become the best in the world at stopping strangers and finding stuff out about them”. I may have paraphrased slightly.

  • Kaybee

    It’s all in the depth of field. Shallow depth of field looks intimate and make the subject pop so it is giving a personal feeling to the photos and at the same time doesn’t make these celebrities look intimidating. Usually red carpet or paparazzi shots are taken showing good view of the background and surrounding so unlike those shots these photos look intimate and nice.

  • Rafael Marquez

    What’s up with that Jamie Lannister hand on the dude with Monica Belucci?

  • Jose Escobar

    Eh, the average person seems more interesting.

  • Andy Austin

    While I do agree that is street work is way more impactful and inspiring, I do find these shots interesting (well more the stories). Because it really does humanize the celebrities that many people idolize. Shows they’re just like us in ways. But that said I’m glad it was only a one night deal and not a new thing.

  • Sasha Ivantic

    The only one I recognized was Bryan Cranston. The rest are just random rich people.

  • mrshekmi

    I loved the Neil Patrick Harris one and Bryan Cranston’s. If you don’t get why this portrayal of “Very Important People” matter, follow Humans of New York on Facebook. There are no names, just a snapshot of a person and a quote from them that gives you a glimpse. It’s sometimes so stunning what people reveal. But it never glorifies, gives opinions, tries to sway you. It just is and you feel what you feel. This same approach was taken with the “Very Important People” or “Very Rich People”. Nothing listing who they are, what their net worth is, what very important things they’ve done, what shows they’ve appeared in. In his portrayal, nothing else matters. They’re just humans, with human experiences.

  • Andy Austin

    Well you’re forgetting two rather Legen…wait for it…dary people.

  • Stan B.

    The images (like all his work) are well composed snapshots. They are positive, accessible and makes the subject look good- unlike more “traditional” street photography. People like the way they look and react positively. Definitely not my cup of tea, but… he’s living the dream- good on him.

    I hope someday soon he concentrates more on the human interest stories (perhaps via video)- or takes his photography up a notch…

  • 1429523

    He doesn’t have a “trademark style” he has a trademark, period. Vogue wanted the “Humans of New York” association, they didn’t want good photographs.

  • Kane

    I was thinking the same thing. Seeing these celebrities answering the same questions Brandon asks strangers on the street was fun.

  • Kayden

    Such a funny generic post for anything about celebrities eh?
    In context of this story though, and his photography style, you really just sound like your trying too hard. Slapping this in the article comments hoping for some agrees without really reading or understanding what your looking at.

    His thing is going up to random people on the street, interviewing them, and trying to get an portrait which is intimate and represents them to some extent. Celebrity or not, because all people are unique and have their own story.

  • Roger

    I’m sorry. At least these images are definitely not “well composed. For example, the first image (man and lady in blue dress, sorry, don’t know the names, don’t care) is leaning to the left! Or the second image (lady with statues), the statue on the right calls your attention because it appears headless! This is a mistake that should be corrected on Photography 101!

  • Roger

    Grandma does the same thing with her cybershot. I’ll see if she can post her pics here.

  • nikonian

    Is HONY the new standard of street photography? While I love them, I mean really?

  • Guest

    Feel free to explain how these aren’t good photographs.

    Or is this one of those trite ‘[POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHER] is overrated! They are only popular because [they are rich|industry connections|celebrity friends|other]! I could do much better except [the industry|the man|money|other] keeps me down’ petapixel comments?

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    Tell us more about how they don’t obey the rule of thirds like your boring snapshots that no one is interested in. While you are at it, let Stephen Shore know that his images failed to meet your standards for composition.

    The fact that he has over five million people following his work and you have two (including your cat) should give you a hint as to whether your views on ‘photography 101′ are valid.

    TLDR: jelly, bro?

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    I’ve never met an average person more interesting to me than Monica Bellucci.

  • Derricklytle

    Why do people like his photos? Because of the story. photography is about story telling and he does a great job with it. I’m pretty sure Brandon doesn’t even pretend to be a “real” photographer. He fins people, tells tories, takes pictures, and it resonates with people. I’m a fan.

  • Mark Woodland

    Does it matter?

  • raleighstclair

    Your grandma wouldn’t like your stupid comments.