Ryan Brown Snaps the Frenzy of Morning Subway Commute in New York City

All images by Ryan Brown. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Cities at their busiest times are among the favorite subjects of street photographers. The energy can be hypnotic, and the activity often makes for an interesting profile of its city dwellers. With today’s featured snaps taken in New York, it’s easy to see why photographers often get drawn to the hustle of rush hour.

In 2003, street photographer and photojournalist Ryan Brown squeezed amidst the crowd of morning commuters in one of the busiest spots in the world: New York City. To really get into the morning rush of the city, he chose Grand Central Terminal, which also happens to be one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions. As expected, his black and white photographs paint a picture of the frenzy that New Yorkers typically find themselves entangled in during their rush hour subway commute.

Train commute is a pretty straight-forward street setting that has been captured by street photographers around the world. Likewise, New York City’s subway scenes have captivated generations of photographers, from Walker Evans, to Bruce Davidson, to countless other photographers of today whose names we are yet to know. This probably raises a question that some of us are itching to ask: What’s the point of doing a photography project that’s been done over and over?

For me, the answer is simple. Cities evolve, no matter how big they are. There may not be a big difference to how these scenes play out today at 14 years later, but give it another 10 years and there could be a noticeable difference. There are also countless stories unfolding at a given moment, and each commuter Ryan encountered was a potential story. Add to this your own perspective as a city dweller, commuter, photographer, and storyteller and that opens up an infinite number of possibilities to capture in your frame.

Ryan’s chosen moment of subway commute during rush hour is just one slice of life you can capture at the Grand Central Terminal. And even if you do the same project, at the same spot, at the same time of the day, you’ll end up with your own version of events for your story. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds that intriguing and inspiring.

Don’t forget to check out Ryan Brown’s Behance portfolio to see more of his other fascinating street photography work.