Every day I spend at least an hour in the subway. Half an hour each way during rush hour. And I love it! There’s no better way to observe other people. It’s like a dance. People stand and sit closely stuffed together in the Subway car. They move closely to the rhythm of the turns, while reading a book, playing Candy Crush on their phone or catching up on some stand-up-sleeping. They try not to touch each other, which is nearly impossible during the morning rush. Everybody keeps to themselves, not wanting to disturb anybody or being disturbed themselves. Eye contact is carefully avoided.
So, when in New York…, do as the New Yorkers do. Last week I brought my book along during my daily commute. Headphones on and somehow keeping my balance while standing and reading. I haven’t got my subway sea legs yet, so when the subway unexpectedly brakes, I reach for the pole to avoid an embarrassing tumble through the Subway car.
At the same time, a man reaches out to that same pole and our hands meet. While I smile and mouth ‘sorry’, he immediately removes his hand and looks in the other direction. The exchange of a sly look, a smile or just a wink during the daily travel, is something that can make any day. Stunned by his reaction, it does turn out to be a thankful subject for my documentary series. I put my MetroCard to good use and travel up and down, East to West with the Subway to document: Subway Solitude in New York.
Is it fresh & creative?
In class I’m the last one to present my documentary and I’m getting nervous. The teacher just commented on a picture of the subway: ‘Guys, we see a lot of pictures about the subway. Make sure they are fresh and have a creative approach.’ Damn! My entire documentary is shot in the Subway. They are creative to me, but I’m not sure if it has the fresh approach my teacher is looking for. Turns out, he is very pleased with my work. He compliments my use of framing and composition. He has very useful tips on how to build on this series and which images I could select for a portfolio. Yay!! Little victory dance! My final series is due coming week and it’s going to be a completely different set of pictures, so stay tuned for that one… Click on the picture below and you can see my documentary photo shoot: Subway Solitude.