Many Are Called By Walker Evans – A Look At The Riders Of The Rails

Being in NYC last week and taking the subway to most places, this book, Many Are Called by Walker Evans, kept coming back to mind.
The best way to get around Manhattan, and the thickest concentration of the heartbeat of the city, the subway has a unique dynamic.


Everyone creates their own space and forms an almost invisible, cone of silence around them. It protects and shields them from the rest of the crowd as they wait for the screeching wheels to deliver them to the next stop.

Mainly furtive glances at others or deep concentration on the written word, which is only broken by the occasional performer or zealot, sharing their skills, asking for a donation.


This trip brought a new one for me: not a musical performance but a man claiming to have knowledge of Al Queda operations, who was then put in jail, and now released to continue his self proclaimed mission of information. A small donation was all he asked for. Speaking pretty loud, he was approaching everyone as we pretended that he was invisible, avoiding his intense gaze.
The next stop just about emptied the subway car. Actually an unusual reaction since folks asking for donations is pretty standard.

I only share this to illustrate a bit of the dense, diverse humanity that exists on the NYC subway today.
And in the 30′and 40′s, Walker Evans spent 3 years chronicling the riders. The resulting exhibit and book were called “Many Are Called” with an introduction by James Agee, a writer who seemed to collaborate with many photographers of the time.

I have to believe the the images made today would be eerily similar.

His photographs were made surreptitiously with hidden cameras. Just about the only way to do it.
There is an unspoken privacy on the cars. Your limited physical space and your visual space is respected by the other passengers because they also live in the same world of underground travelers.

This book speaks to a different time but the humanity appears to be the same.

We would like to give this classic book to one of you and hear what your thoughts are on the photographing of individuals in this mass transit life studio. One thing to remember is to turn off the shutter release sound. Trust me, I know.

If you are signed up for the NEWSLETTER, you will get and email tomorrow at 9:00AM PST with all of the details on how to get this book gratis.
Real easy.


Like what we’re posting?
Join us on Flickr.

Upcoming Events

  • WPPI
  • Feb. 27-March 6, 2014
  • MGM Grand
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • International Consumer Electronic Show
  • APRIL 10-13, 2014
  • NEW YORK, NY 10065
  • The Association of International Photographic Art Dealers

Is there an event we should know about?
Let us know on twitter.

Current Exhibitions

  • Annenberg Space For Photography
  • “The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years”
  • Current to April 27th, 2014
  • 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
  • Century City, CA. 90067
  • Tel: 213.403.3000
  • ICP
  • Capa in Color
  • January 31–May 4, 2014
  • 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street
  • New York, NY 10036
  • Phone: 212.857.0000
  • Getty Center
  • A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography
  • February 4–June 8, 2014
  • 1200 Getty Center Drive
  • Los Angeles, CA. 90049
  • Tel: 310-440-7300
  • Yossi Milo Gallery
  • David Goldes, Electro-graphs
  • January 30–March 8, 2014
  • 245 Tenth Avenue
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel: 212-414-0370
  • Howard Greenberg Gallery
  • Bernice Abbott and Charles Marville
  • February 27-April 12,2014
  • 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406
  • New York,NY 10022
  • Tel: 212-334-0100
  • Staley-Wise Gallery
  • Real and Surreal
  • Feb. 27-April 19th, 2014
  • 560 Broadway
  • New York,NY
  • 10012
  • Phone: 1-212-966-6223
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio
  • February 8–October 5, 2014
  • 11 West 53rd Street
  • NYC,NY
  • 10019-5497
  • (212) 708-9400
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris
  • January 29–May 4, 2014
  • 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
  • New York, NY 10028
  • Phone: 212-535-7710

Is there an exhibition we’re missing?
Let us know on twitter.