Saturday, June 23, 2012
Subway an open book
Alongside subway commuters with noses buried in bodice-rippers, biographies and Bibles, Ourit Ben-Haim clutches her camera and waits for just the right shot. The free-lance photographer creates surreptitious portraits of the New York riders as they turn their book pages, publishing the results on her website.
In some cases, the subjects are in a reading reverie and never know they have been photographed. The 700 bookworms featured in photos she has published on Underground New York Public Library, the blog she launched in December, are identified only by the titles of their books.
Someone, a PN patron, I think, told me about that site.
Her blog approximates the sensation of reading over a stranger's shoulder. Ms. Ben-Haim acknowledges that the act of taking photographs of strangers without permission might make some people uneasy.
There is a question of ethics, indeed.
On her website, she writes that taking photographs of people without their permission is "not wrong" legally. Ms. Ben-Haim also says that she never hides her camera, answers questions from those who notice what she's doing and discards photos if she thinks the subject would find the results unflattering.