© Bruce Davidson (Magnum)
One of my favorites storytellers … the legendary Bruce Davidson … and one of my favorites series of his work, Subway (published in a book). You have to see an exhibition to really appreciate the beauty of his images. Listen to Bruce describe the project here at the New York Times. You can see some of his projects here (note that the web reproduction of the subway series is quite poor).
I wanted to transform the subway from its dark, degrading and impersonal reality into the images that open up our experience again to the color, sensuality and vitality of the individual souls that ride it each day.
I don’t consider myself a documentary photographer. Documentary photographer suggests you just stand back, that you’re not in the picture, you’re just recording. I am in the picture, believe me. I am in the picture but I am not the picture- Bruce Davidson
When he made his extraordinary subway series, spending five years in the 1980s snapping the riders on every inch of New York’s subway system, he found himself using color, which he had always thought gratuitous, to capture the movement, the life.
If I am looking for a story at all, it is in my relationship to the subject – the story that tells me, rather than that I tell. Taking photographs, taking candid photographs, means that the photographer is an invisible man. Whereas there is still a feeling that in having a photograph taken there is loss of face: something of the soul is gone.
Let’s say that Eugene Smith was my photographic father and Cartier-Bresson, my mother. Bresson was generous in spirit and took life as it came — he never imposed himself in his images. … Smith worked more like a film director- Bruce Davidson
More about Bruce Davidson (read below) …
From Magnum Photos: Bruce Davidson began photography at the age of ten in Oak Park, Illinois. While attending Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University he continued to further his knowledge and develop his passion. He was later drafted into the army and stationed near Paris where he met Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the four founders of the renowned international co-operative photography agency, Magnum Photos. When he left military service in 1957, Davidson worked as a freelance photographer for Life magazine and in 1958 became a full member of Magnum Photos.
From 1958 to 1961 he created such seminal bodies of work as “The Dwarf”, Brooklyn Gang”, and the “Freedom Rides”. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962 to photograph what became a profound documentation of the Civil Rights Movement in America. In 1963 the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented his early work in a solo show. In 1966 he was awarded the first grant for photography form the National Endowment for the Arts, having spent two years bearing witness to the dire social conditions on one block in East Harlem. This work was published by Harvard University Press in 1970 under the title East 100th Street and was later republished and expanded by St. Ann’s Press. The work became an exhibition that same year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1980 he captured the vitality of the New York Metro’s underworld that was later published in his book Subway and exhibited at the International Center for Photography in 1982. In 1992 he photographed the landscape and layers of life of Central Park.
Bruce Davidson is a 1998 recipient of an Open Society Institute Individual Fellowship to return to East 100th Street and was awarded the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Photography. Classic bodies of work from his 50-year career have been extensively published in monographs and are included in many major public and private fine art collections around the world. He continues to photograph and produce new bodies of work.