Waiting for the Train

It’s a common experience in New York City to spend time waiting for the subway. And those who live out along the elevated tracks have more experience with it than most. The elevated tracks run out from the heart of the city into modest to low income residential neighborhoods, creating communities and opportunity but also blighting its immediate path.

 

I have been spending entire evenings waiting for the train: in particular the A, D, F, M, Q and 7 trains as they pass through Brooklyn and Queens. As I set up a shot and wait for the train to pass by, which will create a brushstroke of light across the image, I feel like I have become a painter, not entirely in control of the photograph, waiting to see what the effects of movement and timing will be. The camera compresses the seconds that the train is passing by into one image making a light beam, transforming the cars and windows of the train into a beautiful image that looks quite different than what can be seen by the human eye. The result is magic, something beautiful created out of the very ordinary. It represents the best of technology and life in the city. Below the train, it is dark in the day, deafeningly loud when the trains pass by. It is a place to pass through quickly. You only live next to the train tracks if you have no choice. The built environment, in the juxtaposition of the train trestles and people’s homes, reveals income disparity that plagues the city. The best and the worst of New York are both here in the frame.