train sleeper

standup sleeper

I just finished re-reading The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer in preparation for a talk I’m giving in a few weeks. One section of the book is a history of candid photographs whose subjects, because they are sightless or have their eyes closed, are unaware of their pictures being taken. It reminded me of this image I worked up from a snap I took on the El train last winter, and thus of the ethical dilemma described by Dyer and which I find myself in whenever I take a candid portrait of someone in public who I don’t know, doesn’t know me, and, moreover, doesn’t know what I’m doing. Do photographers capture unmasked authenticity via this approach? Or do they render their subjects “powerless to control the way they are regarded (44)”?  I worry sometimes that I shade too far toward the latter. It’s just so tempting (and easy) to take advantage, especially when commuting by train with smartphone in hand. When I make pictures like this public (here, on Instagram, on Facebook) I tend to filter and crop the hell out of them so they’re more about the image and less about the person – a rationalization of bad behavior, perhaps.


About Randall Honold

I live and work in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Some of my other photographs can be found at
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