Gallery: Please visit the gallery to view images in full size. From the gallery, you will be able to add the images to the shopping cart and checkout. YouTube: I have a YouTube Channel (Hari PHL) where I post videos once a week. Please subscribe to my channel and share my videos. I appreciate your support. Thank you for visiting my site.
Do you have a long commute? I did at one point. I used to commute from Exton (Pennsylvania) to Center City Philadelphia. This commute used to take me about an hour by train (Driving is pointless considering the traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76 East)). Now my commute is a 10 minute walk!!
In the United States the average commute to work is over 40 minutes a day which adds up to an incredible 200 hours a year! In congested cities, such as London, UK, the average commuter spends more than 1 hour and 20 minutes per day commuting to work and the average British worker spends nearly 500 days of their life travelling to and from work!
When we have to commute to work it can feel that it’s purely time wasted and so we might sit and dream of a holiday or being anywhere else except on the busy train, pushing our way through the crowded stations and platforms, traveling across the city in the early hours of the morning and then again when the sun is setting in the evening.
However, as with any situation in life, you can really make the most of it by using a bit of creativity and imagination. A regular commuting journey can offer an incredible window into the world around you and the people who move quietly through it without getting much notice.
There are many ways that you can approach photographing your commute. It’s a good topic to capture and you can set about it as a project with a specific theme. The daily commute is such an ingrained part of so many people’s lives that sometimes they hardly notice that it takes up so much time. However, because so many people commute, or have commuted at some point in their lives, if you can take some powerful, meaningful and representative photography it will speak deeply to your audience.
Just remember though to try to be as considerate as possible when you are taking photos on your commute. Bear the ethics of photography in mind and be sensitive to the wishes of any subjects you capture on film but with a little common sense you should have no problems! Also, it is important to note that you should not be photographing if you are driving (Unless you have a device that is attached to your vehicle. This might also be not legal in certain jurisdictions).
What can you photograph on your commute?
Depending on how you get to and from work you will have a different range of subjects, scenery and images to snap with your camera. If you want to create a themed collection then focus on something specific and work towards that. You could, for example, decide to take minimalist photography on your commute in which case you will want to practise and focus on the negative space in your shots. Utilizing minimalist photography on your commute could be a great way to bring out the feelings of isolation and loneliness that many people feel while they commute, even in the crowd. Alternatively, you could focus on the bustling crowd, the hectic stations and busy intersections and bring out the dynamic, colorful and elevated mood that can happen when people come together in large numbers.
Train and Subway Commuting Portraits.
If you are travelling by train or the subway, moving through platforms and stations, it can be a fantastic opportunity to take some candid portrait photography of your fellow commuters.
It’s always a good idea to ask the permission of your potential subjects before taking their portrait and you can always offer to send them a copy of the picture if they would like by email or by posting it on your own Instagram page which they can follow! You can also make some interesting friends like this, especially if you regularly take the same route to work since your paths may cross again in the future!
Transport Photography and the world around you.
Capturing the powerful energy of transport systems is an exciting theme to photograph while you are commuting to work. Whether you travel by car, bus or train, you’re going to be presented with a wide range of great snaps. You can focus on signals, traffic, platforms, transport hubs such as stations and bus stops, the architecture on your route, unusual street furniture or street vendors and performers.
As well as the actual vehicles you and other commuters travel in the world they pass through is altered by their presence. This interplay between the moving and the static creates an interesting canvas for you to express your creativity on and because it is constantly changing it can be an interesting challenge to capture this dynamic interaction in your photography.
Try Personal Documentary Photography on your commute.
If you are keen on capturing the important details of your own commute and creating a documentary style series then you can work on taking photos of the major points of interest on your route. From the moment you leave your front door to when you arrive at your place of work, you can bring your audience on your trip to work with you!
Another take on this type of documentary series could be to take photos of your route at certain points of interest throughout the year so you capture these landmarks throughout the seasons in order to compare how the people and places change with the cycle of the year.
Sunrise and Sunsets on your commute.
Many people travel to work in the early hours of the morning just as the sun is rising and travel home in the evening as the sun is setting. The hour before sunset is known as the ‘golden hour’ because the light is warm and mellow and can produce incredible images. Equally, the early morning light has a bluish tint that can make subjects such as buildings and people look more stark than usual. Either way, you can make great use of the natural variations in light to supercharge your commuter photography.
Try taking Light Trail Photography.
This is easy to do as long as you can bring a tripod with you and stop safely by the side of a road or train tracks. Light trail photos use a longer shutter speed, usually between 10 to 30 seconds per shot, and capture the trails of the lights in the image over that space of time. Set your aperture to somewhere between the f/4 to f/11 range to get the best images.
When you take photos of traffic for example, the red headlights trail away from the camera and the front headlights merge towards you. You can get a very unique perspective of the traffic and the city scenery using light trail photography which works particularly well just after sunset.
Mix it up – Explore different ways to get to and from work to make it interesting!
Commuting will take up a lot of your time but you can always mix it up and take different routes to work each week. This is much easier to do if you live in a major city and even if you have to leave home a little earlier than you usually would it will be well worth your time!
Doing some urban exploring on your commute is a great way to mix things up and discover new locations for potential photo shoots in the future.
Photographing your commute – make it a project that develops over time.
Life is an opportunity that you can’t afford to miss out on – and that means all of it, not just the hours outside of your work schedule. With some imagination and creativity you can make fantastic use of your commuting journeys. Not only can you view it as an opportunity to travel through new parts of the city that you would not normally visit, by taking new routes as often as you can, but it can also form the basis for a dynamic and evolving photography project.
While you are commuting you could plan to specifically look for certain things each month, each season or even just depending how you feel that day! Practice minimalism one month, and then focus on using leading lines, the rule of thirds of making the most of positive space in an uncluttered way! Choose to do a project about the street vendors, the other commuters or the transport itself. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and vision so really let yourself be expressive and make the very most of your commutes to work each day.