[Update] Photographer Claims DKNY Stole His Photos For In-Store Display

Brandon Stanton is the photographer behind “Humans of New York,” a collection of street style photos from around the city. His website, also called Humans of New York, aims to be a “photographic census” of the city’s inhabitants.

A few months ago, Stanton was approached by the clothing company DKNY, who wanted to use his photos as part of a store display. They were willing to pay $15,000 for 300 of Stanton’s photos — a rate of $50 a photo. Stanton wanted more money, but DKNY balked, and the deal never went through.

Cut to this Monday, when a fan of Stanton’s site sent him a photo of a DKNY display window in Bangkok, covered in “Humans of New York” photos.

He was never paid, and never gave the company permission to use his work — and now Stanton is mad. He shared his story on his Facebook page and is encouraging fans to share it. His aim?

I don’t want any money. But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I’ll let you guys know if it happens.

DKNY has yet to respond to Stanton’s complaint, but the story now has more than 25,000 Facebook shares. What do you think DKNY should do?

UPDATE: DKNY rep Aliza Licht responded: “We have immense respect for Brandon Stanton. We approached him to work with us on this visual program. He declined to participate in the project. We licensed and paid for photos from established photography service providers. However, it appears that inadertently the store in Bangkok used an internal mock up containing some of Mr. Stanton’s images that were intended to merely show the direction of the spring visual program. We apologize for this error. We are making a charitable donation of $25,000 to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Mr. Stanton’s name.”

Stanton’s response to the donation? “The Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA now has an extra $25,000 to help deserving kids go to summer camp. Of course, $100,000 would be even better, but it’s hard to be upset about that outcome. For the sake of ending this, I’m going to cease my speculation and take DKNY at its word that the photos were used unintentionally.” [Gothamist]