You’d be hard pressed to find Brandon Stanton, the brain behind storytelling blog turned New York Times bestseller, “Humans of New York,” without a camera in his hands. He needs it for the 5 to 6 portraits he takes each day and posts for his thousands of social media fans and website visitors to see. Stanton turned to photography full time after being laid off from his job as a Chicago bond trader in 2010. He took a chance on an idea he had to take 10,000 portraits of people around New York City and plot them on a map like a census of the metropolitan area. The resulting project has turned into something larger than he ever could have expected. Stanton’s photos are being imitated all over the world (see Humans of India, Humans of Tehran, Humans of Bronx Science and Humans of LaGuardia), and the 29-year-old is garnering major media attention for his capsules of a moment in time.
To see the rest of TIME’s 30 Under 30 World Changers, click here
(MORE: Meet Shiza Shahid, Malala’s right-hand woman)