Your Subway Photos: The Editor's Picks

We got hundreds of amazing submissions for our subway photo project - here are some highlights, as selected by the Brian Lehrer Show staff and the folks at Aperture Books.

Farhad Yasseri
I took this photograph back in 2010 when I was living in Brooklyn. As someone who grew up in Europe, I was fascinated and in the same time frustrated by the sheer loneliness and poverty some of the New Yorkers live in. Among the wealth and glitter of this city, residents like this fragile, old, lonely, perhaps homeless person seem forgotten or displaced. As a result of the socioeconomic problems of NYC, its subway system, contrary to its actual function, is not just a major transportation system but serves a lot people also as shelter.
Paul Szynol
The NYC subway is one of the richest sources of material for documentary photography that NYC has to offer, the place where people from all walks of life meet in passing, and the spot where many "only in NYC" moments happen. I think this photo, of a man exercising in a subway station while one woman waits for him to finish and another walks by pretending not to notice, falls into the "only in NYC" category. Bruce's images are one of the reasons I became a photographer, incidentally, so I am very happy to get to share this photograph with him! Cheers, Paul Szynol
Etienne Bellan-Huchery
This photo was taken in June 2008. Coney Island, the first day of summer, Puerto Rican parade day.
Carolyn Steinhoff
I took it from inside the F train, at the above-ground 4th Ave/9th st. stop in Brooklyn. It's subway workers. I liked the layers of the smears and reflections of light on the window, then the men working, the colors of their equipment contrasted with the industrial colors and look of the station. Then I like the background of the stairs going down, suggesting more layers of space. It says that in New York in the subway we are seeing momentary, changing, less-than-clear views through those often marked windows as frames all the time, and we are seeing layers on layers, what's right in front of us, what's just beyond us, and openings into spaces higher and lower and that we are not in at all and that flash by. We are riding to our destinations at the same time that millions of others are pursuing their separate endeavors, all of which intertwine. The workers are doing their jobs working on the system while we ride it to our jobs. Separate, yet dependent on each other, passing each other briefly yet dependent in an ongoing way.
Julie Turkewitz
New York City, and in particular its subway system, is like a candy store for photographers -- visually rich and full of sweet surprises. I snapped this in Chinatown with my iphone.
Betsy Romero
I took this photo on the 4 line's elevated track in the Bronx in the spring of 2009. I was in still in school at the time pursuing my degree in photography and interning for I was developing a true passion for street photography and was inspired by the work of photographers such as Mr. Davidson, Roy DeCarava, & Helen Levitt among others. I think this photograph represents one aspect of city life; amid all the hustle and bustle and crowded trains there are still some quiet moments. Even if its only for a second.
Joni Sternbach
This photograph is part of a series shot while I was a student at SVA in the 70's. At that time not many people walked around with a Leica around their neck taking pictures illegally. This particular photo of these sisters was made on an elevated train in the Bronx--oh beautiful light.
Matthew Ziegler
This photo was inspired by my curiosity. Walking the street, or subway, of New York makes me see things I could never see anywhere else. As I was getting off the train I walked up the stairs towards the street and caught a glimpse of someone's arm hanging around the corner of the wall as they walked around it. I thought it would be a nice frame so I waited for another person to walk through. This was the only frame taken (film). This was taken last August. I think the white tiled walls and square patterned floor represents a majority of the subways stops in the city. I think many New Yorkers could look at this photo and know it was taken in one of it's many subway stops .
Lisa Futterman
This photo was taken yesterday, October 6th 2011 on the A train heading to Brooklyn. It was taken with my iphone. I thought the 2 men sitting with the pole in between was interesting. They are like mirror images in their posture, but also 2 completely different characters - what you often get in NYC.
Francois Ilnseher
Here we go again- that Photo is from the last recession
todd fisher
Todd Fisher
Todd Fisher
Elizabeth Ross
Vesna Gajic
Last May I've visited NY and had 3 inspiring weeks full of photography excitement. After a lovely evening out with a friend, we started taking pictures at the Astoria Subway station, with the view on Queensborough bridge. This is one of the outcomes. For me it shows the movement in the city, but also the little sequences of silence. I call it "rush & hush" :)
Ashley Middleton
This photograph was taken in Vienna on the way out of the subway station. It was the evening and this man seemed like he was having an out of body experience. I thought perhaps he was tired from a long days work but it seemed like he carried a weight bigger than that. I found his lack of desire to move while on a machine that was making him move to be ironic so I snapped this photo.
Marcelo Añez
For the past few years I've been documenting these subway poster defacings in a blog. This ephemeral street art make subway rides more fun, and actually turn some boring posters into cool and interesting objects to look at.
Steve Harmon
Design and mystery.
Alex Robleto
As a native New Yorker, I have traveled the streets and subway all my life. The city can be chaotic but at certain times in the wee hours there is a certain peace walking the desolate streets.
Josh Goleman
This was taken last year on the 2 train around 9:30am. There wasn't very many people in that car when I noticed this couple poking at one another. I walked and sat across from them, and was able to shoot 10 frames without them noticing. I really think this frame sums it up.
Josh Goleman
I shot this early afternoon a few months ago. To me, this image really tells a story, and kind of breaks my heart. I would guess that they are brothers, and one brother takes care of the other. Seeing them make it through the turn styles, really made me realize the hoops we all have to jump through for this weird system / city to work, no matter who you are.
Josh Robinson
This photo, for me, captures themes at the heart of the subway experience: anonymity, mystery, shadow and light, watching and waiting.
Ernest Herman/
Face-to-face. (© E. Herman/
Steve Harmon
An old photo from the late 70s or early 80s when homeless people would spread out and occupy a good part of the seating and people would just ride along without being bothered. Democracy in the subway!
Olga Kasatkina
This photo was taken one year ago. There was only one moment when I could see this scene - the amazing light, the woman turned to the window and the recognizable view of Coney Island. That time I was working on the series "Take a Train". This picture couldn't be include in it (it looked different and I knew it at once), but my camera was ready for shot and I got one of my favorite photos.
Daniel Echevarria
G-Line platform (2007-2008). From the series "Advertising Underground." For almost a decade, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has derived yearly revenues upwards of $100 million from the sale of advertising in its stations, trains, and buses. The fast and expansive growth of advertising throughout MTA's transportation system may concern those who consider advertisements effective social and cultural influencers. Still, before too much credence is given to the supposed capacity of media groups to condition people, we should look at how advertisements are actually used in MTA spaces. "Advertising Underground" explores the language of New York City subway advertising at the end of the 2000s, and it asks whether the ways in which individuals alter ads can serve to subvert their messages or even completely empty advertisements of their meanings.
Jacqueline Silberbush
Taken on a morning commute, just before heading underground. Shot in an instant from the passenger seat of the train. It reminds me of just opening my eyes, the entire picture in halves.
Rudolph Vernaz-Colas
Apologies for sending so many pix, I've just read the posts underneath! Okay this is the last one, taken w/ a cheap camera hence the grainy look, but I think it's a cool one and I don't think it needs any exolanations...
Jan Cieslikiewicz
I liked the slight surrealism of this scene. It was a year ago in Times Square.
Paul Szynol
A couple readying for the Mermaid Parade while en route to Coney Island.
Rufus Mangrove
I see this guy a lot on the Q train. It was taken a couple years ago. On the subway, there are so many cultures interacting.
Vincent Goldberg
Broadway/Lafayette Station, Winter 2008: Riding the New York City subway, we are consistently surprised by both beauty and grit. In this image, the girl’s balloons brighten an otherwise dreary platform and her stillness contrasts the motion of the train and other riders.
Sam Williams
I usually see this street artist play most weekends in Washington Sq Park on a baby grand (not sure what his real name is, to me he is simply "The Piano Man"). Late last winter I was walking down the ramp to catch the E at the W 4th and heard a Beatles cover echoing up the ramp. When I finally saw the source, I was shocked to see the Piano Man had actually managed to get a full upright piano onto the subway platform. I'm still not quite sure how he managed it... At any rate, I quickly pulled out my camera and snapped this shot before jumping on the Uptown E that arrived shortly after.