Subway Life

Ok, I’ll admit it. I have a staring problem.

Whenever I ride the TTC, I look at people’s faces and wonder what their story is. It helps pass the time and helps me humanize the otherwise monotonous commute. What is going on in their life? Why isn’t anyone smiling? What are they listening too? What are they reading? Where are they going? Where are they coming from?

Looking at the photos of Bill Sullivan makes me feel the same way.

Sullivan is a New York-based photographer whose “More Stops” project (pictured above) captured people as they passed through the turnstiles of the NYC subway. It’s one part of a three-part series of situational photography projects.

I developed a situation so that various subjects could be defined by the constraints of exactly the same mechanical apparatus. The scenario consisted of someone passing through a subway turnstile. At the moment that the subjects passed through the turnstile, unknown to them, I took their picture stationed at a distance of eleven feet. I stood there turning pages of a magazine observing subjects out of the corner of my eye, waiting for only the moment when they pushed the turnstile bar to release the shutter.

Yvonne Doll is a Chicago based musician and artist whose “SleepyUrbanite” project captured the moments when bedtime and commuting time coalesce, all via her cell phone camera.

I ride the train to work everyday. I found myself amazed by all of the different faces… people are dreaming all around you on the train — one of the most crowded places, but also one of the most isolated.

Bill Sullivan image via Razor Apple; Sleepyurbanite image via Josh Spear


  1. is a photoblog of the New York subway. I have no idea how he gets candid shots in such close quarters, but they’re great snippets of urban life.

  2. as for you “what are they reading” question, a couple weeks ago I actually saw an older gentleman flipping through a raunchy porno mag on the subway while his wife/girlfriend was sitting beside him having a snooze (I know they were together b/c they talked and left together)

  3. I actually had fun the the NYC subways. A little different then here and takes some time getting use to but for the most part it was the best alternative to getting around.

  4. The subway was “the best alternative to getting around”? Sounds like a crappy subway. 🙂

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