Photographer Captures Poetic Photos of Strangers on the Paris Metro During His Commutes

Black and White Subway Photos by Sébastien Durand

When French street photographer Sébastien Durand began his practice in 2017, he was looking for inspiration. Luckily, it didn't take him too long to realize that he could take advantage of his commute to work and get creative on the metro. What followed was a growing portfolio of memorable images that detail the small moments in life as these commuters go about their business.

By focusing these images in black and white, Durand gives his photography a timeless feel. Though taken on the Paris metro, viewers are given the sensation that they could be anywhere at any time. For Durand, the lack of color also gives viewers of his work a chance to decide on their own where to focus.

“I found that color naturally directed the gaze towards the main subject, to the detriment of the surroundings and secondary subjects or motifs,” he tells My Modern Met. “The black and white imposes nothing on the reader and gives him time to discover the image by browsing it in his own way. I like the idea of ​​taking the time to visit a photograph. It fits well with the story I wanted to share.”

Over time, Durand's work on the metro naturally evolved into two different series. The first features daily life on the metro, while the second takes a look at people and their unknowing interactions with what Durand refers to as “street furniture.” This second series, titled Subway Travel Companions, really shows off Durand's eye for observation. In these photos, he uses advertisements and other elements to add a bit of irony. These “winks to the viewer” are his way of celebrating the flow of the anonymous crowds.

In the end, the metro has been a wonderful teacher for Durand. “It was only when I took the time to lay my eyes on my journey that I discovered how interesting these little everyday, harmless journeys can be,” he shares. “All of humanity seems to meet there. This is perhaps the first course one should take to learn street photography—putting the camera down and being attentive to others.”

French street photographer Sébastien Durand honed his craft by taking photos on the Paris metro.

Black and White Subway Photos by Sébastien Durand

Street Photography Paris Metro

Street Photography Paris Metro

Subway Street Photography

His black and white photos have a timeless feel.

Street Photography Paris Metro

Black and White Photo of the Paris Metro

He also has a series of photos that show anonymous crowds interacting with “street furniture.”

Photos in the Paris Subway

Artistic Photo on the Paris Metro

Photos in the Paris Subway

Photos in the Paris Subway

Photos in the Paris Subway

Sébastien Durand: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Sébastien Durand.

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Photographer Spends Years Documenting His Daily Commute on the New York Subway

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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