Life is a series of experiences that either keep repeating themselves or are temporarily locked away in our subconscious just waiting for some event to remind us they are still there.
Experiences can invoke a wide range of reactions. The “happy” end of the spectrum may include such things as the smell or taste of certain foods, a particular song, a piece of music or a particular landscape scene. The “sad” end of the spectrum may include unhappy or unpleasant times in our lives, such as the loss of a family member, friend or pet. Although experience builds both dreams and fears the balance varies from person to person and may even vary from day to day. This balance influences our perception of the world around us.
We learn from our experiences and there is a natural tendency to want to share them. Whenever we take photographs there is a part of us in each image we create and therefore each can say as much about the photographer as it does about the subject being photographed. We can use our images to tell stories about how we feel about the subject as well as our particular experiences and perceptions of the subject.
I often use photography to explore and present particular feelings or experiences. One example is my Subway body of work.
I lived and worked in London for two years, and used the subway (the “underground”) every day, along with thousands of other, “anonymous” commuters. It never ceased to amaze me that despite the crowds that dashed to and from the stations during rush hour, the only sounds you could hear were the coming and going of the trains, the indecipherable operator announcements and the air conditioning system. Except for the sound of rushing footsteps you rarely heard the people. There was no talking. There was no laughing. Standing on the platform in between trains you could hear the rustling of newspapers as people satisfied their addiction to news of others much worse off than themselves.
Crowded together on the escalators, in the tunnels, on the platforms and on the trains there was very little personal space. What space existed was highly prized. After a while at certain times of the day I began to recognize familiar faces, standing in precisely the same spot they had stood the previous day, and the day before that, etc. The veil of anonymity was slowly being lifted and it was unsettling. When I realized that I too was slowly taking up residence in my own favorite spots and was therefore also in danger of loosing my anonymity I decided that it was time to leave.
Although London is now a distant memory the old feelings come flooding back whenever I travel the subway systems in DC and New York for my work. I wanted to create images that not only told the story of my daily commute on the subway, but also captured the anonymity of people. Being there, and yet not being there.
I also created a narrated movie of this body of work. Click here to see the movie on my YouTube channel.