Photographing Models in the Subways of NYC (NSFW)

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All images by Aaron Pegg. Used with permission.

Aaron Pegg, better known by his Instagram handle, Underground_nyc is a New York based photographer who uses the city’s subway system to create beautiful images that have earned his thousands and thousands of Instagram followers. Aaron’s formula combines his knowledge of lighting, great models in awesome outfits, and crazy cool poses that make you stop in your feed and stare at what’s in front of you. He started in November 2013 and has kept up the pace to where this is now his day job.

His work has earned him the recognition of brands like Louis Vuitton, Footaction, Finish line, Tumi and Staple Pigeon. But more than anything, Aaron loves meeting people.

Phoblographer: What made you get into portraiture?

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Aaron: I love meeting new people and finding cool and creative ways to show a piece of their personality.

Phoblographer: Considering your love of portraiture, what made you want to go ahead and do that type of work in the subways?

Aaron: I wanted to separate myself from other photographers in New York yet still shoot something that is such a big part of New York’s DNA.

Phoblographer: How do you usually deal with people trying to mess around with your photo shoots while in the subway stations and on the trains? It’s bound to have happened many times.

Aaron: Most people just stare or dodge being in the shot. If someone is standing watching for too long and the model is uncomfortable, we will just move to another location.

Phoblographer: You’ve got lots of followers on Instagram. How did you go about growing such a large following (besides the fact that you’ve got solid work of course)?

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Aaron: I think what helped with gaining a following on Instagram was having a consistent feed with a unique subject, the subway. In the beginning, I just shot empty stations with my iPhone. That allowed me to become a suggested user for Instagram and in 6 weeks I had 30,000 followers. This is when I decided to stare shooting portraits in the subway and I first reached out to other NYC photographers with big followings.

Phoblographer: How much of your time is spent shooting vs booking models/clients, travelling, editing, etc?

Aaron: I shoot, book and edit everyday. This is my full-time job.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use. Considering you’re in the subway, you’ve got to be lightweight and the lighting must be minimal, right?

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Aaron: I use my Nikon D750 and two lenses, the Nikon 24mm f1.4 and the 50mm f1.8. Over the last few years, I have figured out how to use the fluorescent light to my advantage.

Phoblographer: When working with the models, do you usually have some sort of idea of the framing and pose that you want? Do you storyboard or let them do their thing?

Aaron: The overall composition is key to me so I usually have that in mind when shooting. However, the poses and locations are freestyled.

Phoblographer: You’ve got two different Instagram accounts now. Why did you split them?

Aaron: I shoot so much that I wanted a place to share my non underground shots. I also wanted to show brands and others that I do shoot more than the subway. Sometimes you have to spell it out for people.

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