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.”