Words and Photographs by Peter Turnley
Very late Friday evening, I got on a #2 train heading north through the Bronx, New York. I wanted to see life on the trains on Halloween night, late, as people rode home. Once past the 135th Street stop, very few people were on the train with me. As I reached the end of the line, way out in the Bronx, I got off the train to return to Manhattan. I sat down on an elevated subway platform, in the rain, and waited for nearly half an hour for a train heading south to arrive.
It was cold, and I felt quite alone. This moment reminded me of how alone it would be possible to feel in life. I have been near that feeling a few times, and I longed to get back on a train and return home.
When I boarded the train returning south to Manhattan, initially there were only a couple of other people in the car with me. When the train paused at a Bronx stop, two people, a young man and woman, sat down in front of me. At first I wasn’t sure they were together, and the beauty of each of them captivated me. They both looked very much alone as well, and in their own world, and tired. Soon, the young woman leaned over and put her head on the shoulder of the young man.
I made a few photographs of them with out them being aware, and pushed myself to stand up and cross the train and lean near their faces. I said, "excuse me, I'm a photographer, and I'm riding the train photographing people tonight, and you both are so beautiful, could I please make a photograph of you?" They looked at each other and looked back at me and nodded okay.
I made several photographs, quietly, my heart excited by the gift of this moment. I handed them a card and asked them to contact me so I could send them a photograph. Then I sat back down and rode many stops in silence. When the train came to my stop and I got up, as I walked by the couple I said, "you offered me a beautiful gift tonight and I want to thank you." They both responded quietly, but strongly, "we thank you."
And this is for me, is what life is all about. Good night.
12:30am, Nov. 1, 2014, on a train in the Bronx, New York
Text and photos © 2014 by Peter Turnley, all rights reserved
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Speed: "Stories are best told in words and pictures. Peter is the rare person who does both well."
Paul: "Peter Turnley's work and approach to the photographic life in general should be obligatory studying for any aspiring street photographer. Obviously I'm sure the best way to learn would be with one of his workshops. [Link —Ed.] However anyone who for whatever reason cannot attend the workshops will learn an inmense amount of wisdom and knowledge by studying closely his words and images here at The Online Photographer and especially his daily images and thoughts on Facebook. His apparent lack of interest in gear, mixed with his full concentration on the image are a healthy respite from the usual gear-driven chat on the web. Personally what he's probably taught me most is the grace and respect towards his subjects and I find this is one of the key reasons he manages to capture such beautiful and compelling street photography."
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