6 mins

New York City subway: Story behind the photo

Renny Whitehead, winner of the Travel Photo of the Year 2013 portfolio category, tells the story of the photographs he captured in the New York City subway

New York City subway system (Renny Whitehead)

As cabin crew for a major airline, I travel to New York often. This most famous of cities is also one of the world's most photographed and I wanted to find my own way of telling a New York story.

I'd taken many photos around the city but I hadn't spent much time in the subway system. With its grime, attitude, and everyday hustle, I thought it would be the perfect place to capture something unique and truly representative of New York.

Whilst waiting for a train, a bench on the platform opposite caught my attention due to the ever changing faces and characters I was observing. They were people from all classes, backgrounds and walks of life, a diverse mix of New Yorkers all there for their own different reasons. These changing characters seemed to combine well with the speeding trains giving a sense of the frenetic nature of the subway system.

The resulting pictures received lots of positive attention and photographing the subway soon developed into a personal project; a study of life and of the racial and cultural diversity of New York City.

When I heard the news that my portfolio had won Wanderlust's Photo of The Year competition I was completely blown away. I hope to use it as a springboard to achieve even greater things from behind the lens in the future.

Judges comments:

The judges were deeply impressed by Renny's portfolio. You can see the full collection of photographs here.

“This set of images suggests a real purpose to capture the mundane and the photographer has executed it brilliantly. These photographs directly challenge the traditions of story telling and force us to confront both the boredom and excitement of travel” Photographer Paul Harris FRGS.

“In seven years I have never encountered such a portfolio. It is superbly conceived and perfectly executed, thoughtful, funny, ambitious, provocative and difficult. This took time and I could look at it for months. I love it.” Wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein. 

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