Tuesday, December 22, 2009

take the 'a' train

last month was the anniversary of walker evans birth. evans' birthday inspired me to seek out some books about him and his work from the local library. one book that I checked out was many are called - the book was composed of photographs walker surreptitiously shot from 1938 to 1941 of people riding the nyc subway. walker used a concealed camera to take portraits of strangers riding the subway; each picture is incredible as each is a microcosm of history, biography, and personality.

walker's work in the subway inspired me to play around and take some candid pictures of some of my fellow subway riders. although my camera wasn't concealed, I did manage to surreptitiously snap a number of photographs of my fellow subway passengers. just as evans' photographs do for the late 30s/early 40s, perhaps, these photos capture life circa 2009. for my flickr slide show (21 pics) of these snaps go HERE. if you check them out - please let me know what you think - there are a couple, like the one above, that I think really like, I'd love to learn which is your fave.

ella fitzgerald with duke ellington and his orchestra performing the jazz standard take the 'a' train. of all the subways lines in nyc, the 'a' train has to be is my favorite (if for no other reason than it's the line I'm most familiar with) - on the 'a' train you can travel from north of washington heights, through harlem, all the way through the rest of manhattan, under the brooklyn bridge and across brooklyn to ozone park or past jfk airport to rockaway beach. and to think you can go all that way for a mere 2 bucks 50 cents! what a deal!!

19 comments:

Candie Bracci said...

That's a great idea and I really like that picture too.

Roy said...

Great subway shot, Kim! I have a friend who does that sort of photography, too, only on the streets of Brooklyn rather than in the subway. She used to be going out with a guy who lived in Little Ukraine, so she'd wander around there and on down to Coney Island getting some really great candid shots.

Meanwhile, I haven't gotten brave enough yet to snap people unobtrusively, although contemplating the uses of that swing-out LCD screen on my camera suggests that it can be done. I suppose people will think you're just standing there fiddling with the settings rather than actually taking a picture.

tony said...

They Are ALL Good! I especially like he one of the Lass in the dark Glasses!

Angella Lister said...

Kim, I love them all! Okay, let's see: Love the older Asian couple. Love the tile angel. Love the yellow and orange seats, and the shot of the woman through the window. But I particularly love seeing all the different New York faces, impassive on the subway, a million stories playing out behind their eyes. You really evoke that.

And btw, there were, count them, TWO people in these pictures that I actually know! Gives meaning to the cliche, small world.

Great series! So New York.

subby said...

Was a cab ever that cheap? I think not! Great lead shot here, kimy..and gotta love that tune( two more of my faves! ) Off tocheck the slide-show ;)

Colette Amelia said...

That was a wonderful ride! I got to say that one that you shot from outside of the blonde lady did it for me!

But they were all truly so great!

rlbourges said...

best to you and yours over the Holidays, kimy.

Baino said...

That was the first thing I thought when your site opened "How did that man feel about having his photo taken" You managed a great portrait anyway. I'd love to take more pictures of people but feel so intrusive and if you ask if you can take the shot, you lose that wonderful candid moment. Keep up the good work Kim, gorgeous photos this year, great philosophy and it's been a wonderful ride. Have a terrific Christmas.

K. said...

I own an Evans photo, developed by him personally. A version of it appears in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Merle Sneed said...

KIm, I love the shot of the old man in the white sweater. The kid in the stroller caught you taking his pic!

Everyone in every shot seems alone, even when they are with a companion.

Jet said...

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Merry X'mas !


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mouse (aka kimy) said...

it's wonderful to get the feedback and to learn of which photos have particular appeal for each person.

angella - I am flabbergasted that you know 2 people in these snaps!! let me know if you tell them that there is a photo of them out there floating around (that is unless you think they will have a problem with that, then you can skip telling them)

k - speaking of flabbergasted, I'm very impressed that you possess an evans photo that he actually developed! what a treasure!

when I took this pictures, I had my camera (which is big and pretty obtrusive) sitting on top of a bag on top of my lap -I'd point the camera to my best guess position and sneakily snap the shutter - I find it does help to have a wide angle lens. one of these days I hope to get photoshop, then I can play around and straighten out the sometimes odd tilt of my 'sneaky shots.'

taking pictures of strangers is a strange terrain - - I have to muster up my courage to do it.... if I do get caught (or rather confronted) then I offer up an explanation and 9 times out of 10 the person smiles and seems fine with what I offer as way of an explanation..... fortunately I rarely get confronted.

merle, by the way - I just loved that old guy in the white sweater - I would have loved to have also do a formal portrait of him and I was most interested in his story. he was on the subway with me for at least 15 minutes and I think the phone he had that he was playing with for most of the ride was a prop - I got the impression that he had seriously encountered some hard, hard times.

Kate Hanley said...

Well first, I love me some Ella! I really liked the pictures. My favorite was the one of the girl in the glasses through the subway window. It seems like a shot at the beginning or end of a movie - you know, there's a story behind it. Happy Holidays!

Tom said...

i think i like your fav best, but several are very interesting--i have Never been on a subway...my wife is threatening to take me up to Toronto next year and the first thing on my list of things to do is ride the subway...weird, huh?

California Girl said...

excellent shot, I'm sending to my husband. No subway in the great north of NH; have to go to Boston.

Merry Christmas!

Meri said...

Yes, Roy's right: great subway shot. Now, I've got a question. With all the snow, will you be able to get home before spring? Merry Christmas, no matter where you are.

Angella Lister said...

mouse, I don't know either person well. Both are people I've met casually, one at a friend's gathering, the other at one of my children's school events. So I'm not really in touch with either one. Besides, the train is a public place, and you don't represent these photos as anything other than they are, so I don't think anyone can really have a problem. It's like TV stations taking B-roll of subway scenes that they show at will whent they're doing a subway news story. They don't get people's permission. It's not needed in a public venue like that. Interestingly, my daughter is currently trying to figure out her best strategy for taking public snaps of just this sort. She sees pictures of fascinating people and scenes all the time. Sometimes she asks to take the picture. And sometimes she just snaps it and moves on quickly. No confrontations so far. Will keep you posted on what she works out. Again, love your subway series.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Kim, on the A train you can travel from Amsterdam Avenue to Amsterdam (Netherlands), if you add another four or five hundred dollars to your deal of 2.50 USD. You have to take the air train from where you stayed ( I guess somewhere in Washington Hts) and then pay another 5 usd to the airtrain to get to Terminal 4 of JFK.
I am sorry I didnt know about your trip to Brooklyn.
Best wishes, Ara Khachatryan from Brooklyn NY.

ArtSparker said...

I really like this photo -thought I left a comment before, just...so interesting the way all the people look as if they are somewhere else, as if they don't exist as creatures of will while they are being transported.