Travelling in a crowded London tube during rush hour always makes me think of Michael Wolf and his amazingly expressive series Tokyo Compression, that features photographs of Tokyo subway commuters packed like sardines. In this series that was first published in 2010, Michael has spent over fifteen years capturing the cramped, sweaty commute that so many Tokyo locals make to get to work and back home. And most days I think of these images when I’m stuck close to someone’s armpit, and feel a bit better.
Some days I feel like a commuter from one of these photographs. But then there are other days where I’m all swagger, like the star of a Bruce Davidson Subway photograph. Bruce’s photographs are a classic portrayal of the New York subway scene in the early 80’s. And I love how the indignation portrayed in some of the photographs balances out with the abandon displayed in others.
Bruce speaking about his Subway series which I encountered and fell in love with at Tate in 2010. Imagine a room full of these stunning photographs!!!
Bruce, they say was inspired by Walker Evans and his New York Subway portraits that he published in the 1960’s in a book called Many Are Called. These photographs were taken between 1938 and 1941 using a hidden camera.
Well at least he didn’t give people a chance to give him the finger.
One thing’s for sure, commuters will always remain a fascination for photographers, whether they like it or not.
And since I haven’t been able to find the English equivalent of a great tube story, here’s the last best thing.