Subway Stories

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Bruce Davidson

Bruce Davidson

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Walker Evans 1941

My daily journeys on the Q train have made me even more aware of the street photography gold mine that is the New York Subway system. To use a cliché all human life is here from panhandlers to break-dancers.

The often bizarre cultural contrasts, kissing gay couples next to observant Jews reading the Torah, rambunctious teens next to ancient, huddled-over oriental pensioners with loads of washing, burn themselves into the visual memory even if you don’t happen to have a camera with you.

Even removing these stark and often surreal moments, you’re still left with people’s faces.

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In very few other places are you forced to look into the eyes of strangers at such close proximity and for such a length of time.

It makes you wonder about these people as they must wonder about you, guessing of their lives outside of the train car.

There’s something healthy about this (although heading home on a packed train it sometimes may not seem like it) because in a world that seems hell bent on keeping other humans at arms length here is an occasion where we must make a connection however superficial with the human world around us.

I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite subway images off the interweb to illustrate just what I mean.

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Ferdinando Scianna

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Bruce Davidson

Susan Meiselas

Susan Meiselas

Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon

Ferdinando Scianna

Ferdinando Scianna

Louis Stettner

Louis Stettner

Bruce Davidson

Bruce Davidson

Constantine Manos

Constantine Manos

 Thomas Hoepker

Thomas Hoepker

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Richard Kalvar

 

 

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