<<< o >>>I'm not speaking to you either! 49 comments + add yours

One of the shots I really wanted to take while I was down in London last weekend was a shot on the Underground, something akin to the great shots that Travis Ruse routinely produces over at Express Train. And I don't think that this shot is quite in Travis's league, but I do quite like it.

capture date
focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
12.31pm on 13/2/05
Canon 20D
EF 17-40 f/4L USM
17mm (27mm equiv.)
aperture priority
C1 Pro
yes + 2° rotation
3x2 + people
comment by John at 08:43 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005


Love this shot and as you know I think whenever chances arise you should always try to get them.

To me, it just about sums up my experience of when I lived in London. People looking bored, tired and uncomfortable by having their personal space invaded.

This is a true moment in time I'm sure you will agree.


comment by Nick at 08:43 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Such life in this picture. So candid. I love it. It's fabulous.

comment by James at 08:48 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

This rocks, although I can't believe that barely anyone seems concerned by the stranger pointing a 20D at them!

comment by m at 08:51 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

A number of people seem to have noticed you ;-)

comment by quinten at 08:59 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Very nice faces, almost like they try to be as casual as possible like "i don't care" but they do. It's one of these pictures that keeps the attention.

comment by AJ at 09:00 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Dave, I love their expressions ... great shot!

comment by Chris at 09:00 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Great shot Dave. You can;t help but smile at the blonde, 2nd from the right, who's probably wondering what on Earth you're doing.


That Travis Ruse blog is spot on as well.

comment by djn1 at 09:05 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

There's a detail about the taking of this shot that I didn't mention: I'm standing up, but where's my camera? It's important because it probably makes quite a big difference to their reaction.

comment by Andy at 09:09 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Great shot! Everyone except for the woman on the right looks clueless. As if sheep are being herded to just another location.

comment by Chelsea June at 09:23 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Wow. I like this shot- the even composition and their expressions. Nice work! :)

comment by Beth at 09:27 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

The Tube perfectly embodied in one shot! The only thing lacking is the lovely body odour.


comment by Darrell at 09:57 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Ahh! The old camera on the chest trick, so explaining the need for a rotation. Wouldn't it be nice if we could fit waist level viewfinders to our DSLRS?

Nice candid


comment by Adriana at 10:00 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

As every body has seid, it is so funny to see how every one is trying to look natural, but the girl in the right. Travis photo is so natural also :). Well done as usually David.

comment by Alastair at 10:31 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

The guy to the far left is cracking me and the guy on the far right up!

comment by Fellow Eskimo at 10:47 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

Some of those people dont look to happy...and it loks like you have every steriotype on the underground. Pretty good...I never dare take out my camera in a crowded place. Points for having more guts than I do!

comment by Jason Davies at 11:53 PM (GMT) on 20 February, 2005

I love people shots like this. Well done for capturing the mood so well!

comment by Travis at 12:13 AM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

I would love to put up a site with images from eveyones commute. I bet the world over every one is looking quite similar when in transit mode. Weather you're stuck in track, hiking down a sidewalk or stuck in a train, we're all just trying to make it through. What tickles me so much about this image is that it looks like this is one big family on an outing. They seem a little annoyed with each other. Love that tension in the air. Boy that subway looks a lot cleaner than what I ride on....Thanks for challenging your photography and sharing the work.

comment by Chris at 03:33 AM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

so, so cool.

comment by BigA at 04:55 AM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Not to contribute to loutish behaviour but I think it would be great if you got on the tube with your trusty camera, composed the shot just as you have, but then let out an almighty yelp before clicking away. The reaction shots would be priceless ;)

comment by Mark at 07:01 AM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

This is my first post for your site but I've been viewing your photos for about a year. So I guess I'll start commenting now by saying that you really captured thecandid moment on this shot especcially on that woman's face on the right. Great Photo!!


comment by Jesse at 07:25 AM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Alastair has a great point: those two guys on the ends look very funny! The only time I get to see these tight situations in the US comes at airport transit sites, or full elevators. This picture does capture the awkward ride accurately. Could the picture look more humorous with an odd colorization?

comment by Andy (SensorChip) at 08:55 AM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

I'm a massive fan of Travis so this shot really appeals. Although, how did you go about taking this shot, did you just stick your camera up and take it? I see you were only at 17mm. Looks like people are looking at your with THE 'what the f*** is he doing' look on their faces. Don't think I have the bottle to get these type of pictures, although I so want to.

comment by Norris at 10:11 AM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

There's something about the structure of this that grabs me, and I think it comes from the focal length. I'm on the verge of buying a 17-35mm zoom and this pic screams at me to get up and do it.

Also, I love the expression of the guy seated in the left foreground. It's as if he's looking at the blonde standing on the right and thinking, "Oh no, she's going hit that guy with the camera."

I'm in a very small hippie town in far far far Northern California. When I have the temerity to carry my camera in public, many of the locals act as if I work for the CIA or something. Did anyone say anything to you?

comment by Chris at 12:33 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Dave, I know from previous posts that you talk with your subjects to check they're OK for a picture going up on the website ... was that the case here? If not, is this kind of shot an invasion of privacy? Where does the law in the UK stand on this one?

comment by djn1 at 01:41 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Chris: I check with my subjects if they know they're being photographed; especially if there's just one person in the shot. But in this case it wouldn't have been practical to have asked, asking them would have wrecked the shot, and I'm fairly sure they didn't know that I'd taken it anyway. My camera was around my neck, and while it looks as though the blonde woman and the guy immediately behind her are looking straight at me, they were actually looking at my camera.

As for the legal position: my understanding of UK law is that candid photography isn't an invasion of privacy if you're in a public space; i.e. there's no expectation of privacy on public transport hence it's perfectly ok to take photographs. If I were to take a similar shot through the window of someone's house this would be a different matter entirely because people would expect privacy in such a setting. A second legal issue relates to libel; i.e. if I post a shot that, for example, implies that the subject is a criminal, or wife-beater, or whatever, then I could be sued for libel. But again, this shot does none of those things.

However, this leads onto a second consideration; i.e. it's lawful, but is it moral?

I suspect that some people would argue that it isn't moral to post photographs of people if you haven't checked with them. My own position is that it's ok providing the shot doesn't ridicule anyone or portray them in a negative way. This shot, though it's moderately humourous, doesn't portray anyone in an especially bad light, it just demonstrates the various ways in which people can seem uncomfortable on public transport. In that sense I think it's ok to put up.

comment by digili at 01:49 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Completely agree with you Dave - it's a public place, so it is purely a moral issue. This picture does no harm to anyone in it, and provides an interesting and honest insight to the world of the tube. These people do exist, and almost evey visit on the tube can be a humourous one, simply due to the broad range of people and lifestyles in London that use this public transport. To capture it so candidly and openly is a bonus!

comment by Trina at 02:53 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Great shot ... everyone's eyes pointed in a different direction ... no 2 eyepaths intersecting. So different from Japan, where I live ... everyone's eyes would be pointed toward the floor, or shut ...

comment by miklos at 03:54 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

No dance today. :D Maybe tomorrow.

What you have to keep in mind is that most (if not all) of these people have funny british accents!

(HAH.. I wish I could talk like that.)

Anyway.. Just to be a bit anal ... With your title for this photo, aren't you sort of making fun of your subjects already? I mean the title seems like an invitation. It does invite the reader to say things about them...

If they knew that you were taking the shot, it would be a different issue.. but since it's a candid shot.. I don't know. I suppose as said above; this is a moral issue. Personally, I don't care, I just find things wrong because I like to stick out like a sore thumb :) I simply thought that it contradicted what you said up there...

On a technical note: I like the exposure. Very nice tones, both on the people's faces and hands, as well as their clothes and surroundings.

comment by tobias at 03:56 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Hmmm, I'm not sure on this one. I do feel particulary conscious when involving the public and was going to ask you about this particular shot. After all, in this case you are gaining publicity due to the presence of strangers. Not that I am disagreeing with it, just that people can be funny about such things (do you recall the school, a previous footnote of yours) and it would seem it leaves little to drive the public to insane fits of anger. I tend to steer clear rather than ask because when you ask you end up losing the "authencity" I feel that we all crave as photographers.

Quick rant for everyone. Having discussed at length with both Dave and Mike Golding exposure above 30seconds with the 300D and the need for a remote I have just purchased the Canon RC-1. Very diddy (about 3cm by 1cm) but I bought it from amazon and it comes with free batteries... which were flat and having replaced them have cost me just under 14 (for 2). The remote costing just 20. Just in case you were thinking of buying one. I think I will definitely be mentioning this to amazon. As for how it works. I will be taking a few photos of a windmill in the dark tonight (weather permitting) I'll email you an image Dave if you want.

comment by RainKing at 04:00 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Leaving the moral considerations aside, I think this is a great shot. It wouldn't have been better even if it had been staged.

comment by Zach at 06:37 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005


Huge Megaton Balls.

You've got quite a set on you to snap this photo, chest level or not. Did anyone say anything to you? Or did they all just mumble amonsgt themselves?

Just terrific.

comment by gabriele at 07:10 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

great shot dave, if you are interested in metro shoot, i suggest you to have a look on the work of "marco pesaresi" an italian photographer who done a reportage about the people on metro all around the word, the work it's called "underground" and it's a book to, published by CONTRASTO, an italian photo agency. you can have a preview of some pictures here http://foto.virgilio.it/gallery/reportage/metropolitanaritratti/index.html

keep on like this

comment by Jenny at 07:12 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

The blonde to the right is what makes this picture even more memorable. While everyone is in their own world, it is that one girl that ties everyone together. =) Very lovely.

comment by VPra at 07:17 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Interesting shot. The blonde woman on the right pulls in the piucture together as she just casually looked at the camera.

comment by Alan at 08:45 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Everyone mentions that blonde girl, and you just know that she has probably been going around telling everyone about "that weird guy on the tube taking pictures thinking no-one would notice!!"

Anyway, great shot. You can feel the uncomfortable-ness of the people crammed in. This captures the real essence of riding the underground ..

comment by jim at 08:56 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005


that is such a wonderful photo. I've spent ages looking that that this evening, and reading the other comments, and marvelling at the travisruse link you added. This one is quite amazing. Thanks for sharing your work.

comment by ckozo at 08:57 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

having just taken about 350 people photos in a 4 hour time frame at an indoor public cycling event, i never once received any negative reactions to my photographing. this includes many shots taken as close as 4-5 feet. i suspect they all assumed that i was part of the organization (i kinda was) that was holding the event or part of the local media and that this was just part of being there.

anyways, excellent photo. i wouldn't change a thing.

comment by John at 09:05 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

I read an article recently by someone who took candid photographs of Bresson. Apparently Bresson tried to stop the photos from ever being published because they were taken without permission. Yet Bresson was a master of candid street photography.

I was again approached today in the street. I was stood outside a crumby kebab shop but had noticed the furniture inside might make a nice shot.

Two very obnoxious guys (actually they were orthodox jewish) approached me and asked me why I had a camera and what was I doing. I actually (a) had not lifted the camera to my eye, and (b) only briefly looked in the shop. I stood my ground and told them to mind their own business and they walked off.

Again it does beg the question of how viable or safe is it to be working in public places.

comment by djn1 at 09:12 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Thanks everyone.

miklos: I see what you mean but the title was meant to reference the discomfort we all feel in these circumstances rather than make fun of these people.

tobias: yes, send me the windmill, I'll be interested to see it.

Zach: I honestly don't think they noticed me taking the shot, it was just coincidental they were looking right at the camera at that moment.

gabriele: thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

John: I've not had quite such a hostile response, not yet, but if I do I don't imagine it will make too much difference, at least I hope it won't. The world is full of belligerent people and I think you were right to tell them to mind their own business.

comment by P at 09:15 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

great shot! the facial expressions are marvelous.

Tobias, i bought an RC-1 for my 300D just last week, in order to take long exposure night shots. it works great! i highly recommend it.

comment by tobias at 09:26 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

:) big one too. you have to the camera to timer!


it would seem the batteries + remote work! what is it with gadgets and electronics... they rule!

comment by zee at 12:17 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005


when did we all become so unfriendly...

comment by Simon C at 12:07 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

This is defintely one of your best shots. You've captured the essence of the tube. Lots of people trying to find something and yet nothing to look at, as long as it means avoiding eye contact with another commuter.

comment by Brian at 01:59 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

You might be interested in the recently re-issued Walker Evans collection of New York City subway photos clandestinely taken around 1939-40: "Many Are Called." It's amazing how similar - despite the obvious changes in clothing styles - these people are to us 65 years later. Check it out. No doubt Amazon.com has it.

And greetings from NYC.

comment by Allan at 05:13 AM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Damn fine shot. When I first looked at it I thought it was staged because it looked so good (lighting, poses, etc.) but quickly realized that it couldn't be.

I agree with Zach... big ones.

comment by btezra at 12:35 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

~this is very interesting, I find myself wondering about the collection of faces, lives, etc., DAMN crisp detail, GREAT light and color here as well~

comment by diann at 05:21 AM (GMT) on 28 February, 2005

people all around yet each is very alone.

comment by selene at 12:17 AM (GMT) on 1 March, 2005

Really nice composition. I always wanted to take pictures of people but don't have the guts to do it.

The 2 skinhead guys are hot! *giggles*

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