Behind the Photograph – The Daily Grind

Occasionally in London we get great light. Being a street photographer means I notice it where others do not. When this light shines on parts of a train platform, I noticed some interesting shapes emerging in the train windows.

This is difficult to shoot for a number of reasons; exposure is very difficult (auto exposure usually makes a mess of this), so a couple of test shots is usually needed to adjust; Passengers on the train might think you are photographing them (and there is nowhere to run); Most of the time the shot simply doesn’t work (just try again next time).

This photograph works for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are three subjects, and threes are generally good (as are other odd numbers of things like 5 or 7). Then they are contained within their own sub frames (I love frames within frames). Finally, it is not obvious what is going on which adds a bit of mystery and keeps the viewer looking.

The much larger, but non dominant silhouette, is me reflected in the glass, so it is also a selfie.

This (and a series of similar images) was inspired by a photograph by Alex Webb where he caught the silhouette of travellers on a train projected onto a wall in the street. By his own admission it took him a lot of effort to get the shot, and he doesn’t think he can do it again.

For me, this kind of image is very hit and miss to capture – it needs patience, luck, and some vision of what you are trying to achieve. However, it is unpredictable and will never come out how you expect. Most of such shots will be junk for the bin, but occasionally with the right technique – bam! you have it.

Commuter photography