Book-Review: “SUBWAY” by Bruce Davidson

Thought that the time has come for another book-recommendation.

This time I will give you a quick look into “SUBWAY” by Bruce Davidson.

Just quick note before we get startet: I do not own any of the pictures printed in the Book! Everything you’ll see inside the book belongs to Bruce Davidson / the Aperture publishing company /Magnum Photos 🙂 It’s totally not my intention to bash the copyrights here I just want to highly recommend this book!

Back in the 1980`s Bruce Davidson went on a Mission to document the old New York Subway and the interesting creatures in it!

“Creatures” isn’t meant to be pejoratively! This Book is just an absolute timetravel and the looks of the people so special and intersting 🙂

The cover of the book pretty much reminds me of an old “Gang Starr”-CD-Cover I looked at some years ago. The stranger has some kind of a mysterious look as the viewer can’t see his eyes… is it a friendly person you are looking at or….

© Bruce Davidson / Aperture publishing company / Magnum Photos

Even Bruce Davidson himself wasn’t pretty sure about what kind of characters he will meet in the Subway-Wagons. Before he started his photographic work he even started to train alot and get in shape so he could fight back if someone wanted to rob him or beat him up for taking photographs of people and get in their private zone. Further on he had to carry all this heavy equipment every day. The Introduction of the book is filled with Davidsons self-preparations to prevent fighting, robbery and so on.

© Bruce Davidson / Aperture publishing company / Magnum Photos

The Book itself is pretty well made and has a nice format so you can look at the pictures in a gallery like way.

© Bruce Davidson / Aperture publishing company / Magnum Photos

It must have been so much hard work to get the pictures Bruce Davidson banned on film within this series. Some pictures just show so strange situations that I really can’t figure out how to photograph these without getting punched into a hospital 😀 Other Photographs just show a real sense of personality and intimacy like the book-cover itself. Davidson shot so nice and colourful portraits, all with this gritty, all over tagged subway-background. Especially the colours are just mind-blowing in all of these pictures!

© Bruce Davidson / Aperture publishing company / Magnum Photos

I could probably write hours and hours about this book and tell you how nice it is. But what I am really trying to tell is: BUY IT! You won’t regret it even when the years go by! Pure timelessness 🙂

For me it was pretty hard to get a copy of this one as there has been a long time in which it wasn’t released again. But finally I was able to get a reprint here in Germany and have to say that this is one of the greatest photo-books I own!




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