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Friday, April 9, 2010

Dejan Djordjevic's MARTA photos come to Atlanta

MARTA-Subway-Series-Djordevic

For nearly two years, Boston resident Dejan (pronounced "Dan") Djordjevic has been riding trains and and snapping covert photos of his fellow passengers with his iPhone.

What began as something to distract the Chicago native from his daily commute has turned into the Subway Series, an ongoing collection of simple, stark images that capture all walks of life — and a diverse range of emotions — in an everyday setting. After snapping pics of passengers on Boston's T, the Chicago native decided to spend a weekend photographing riders and transit scenes on MARTA.

Photos from his time spent on the Boston and Atlanta transit systems will be on display tonight and tomorrow at the Granite Room in Castleberry Hill. CL spoke with Djordevic today after he landed in Atlanta.

What made you decide to photograph people on transit?

It's very interesting to have so many different types of people share a similar experience. What makes taking pictures on the train so exciting is that you've got all walks of life taking the train. Whether it's to work, to visit friends, go out to eat, catch a flight in and out of the city. The expressions on people's faces are priceless.

Is your mindset to just go out and shoot or do you go looking for certain people?

When I was doing this in Boston I was getting in the train before and after work. So I'd shoot whoever was in front of me. I flew down here and was here for the weekend. I was looking for subjects who'd be more interesting to shoot. I didn't specifically shoot who was in front of me. I'm careful not to shoot anybody in a bad light or defame them. They are mere candids, caught moments in time.

I can guess why you took photos on the T, but how did you come across MARTA?

[My representative] and I have been working to exhibit in other cities. She reached out to galleries in Atlanta and the Granite Room was interested in the Boston T Subway Series. It was suggested I mix some MARTA commuters to give it a more local flavor.

Do people know you're photographing them? Or is covert?

It's pretty covert. Little children always seem to know. I've shot little kids when they're being held in their parent's arms. No one's ever said anything and I've been doing this for about a year and a half now. With the iPhone it's easier to be covert to make it look like I'm playing a game or shuffling through my photos.

MARTA has a strict photography policy, which can make it difficult to snap photos on a train or bus. But anybody can take photos on MARTA with their iPhone. Have you had any discussions with MARTA, or have they reached out to you about what you're doing?

Prior to coming, I didn't reach out to MARTA and explain what I was doing. When I heard a gallery in Boston was interested in exhibiting my pictures, I did reach out to a lawyer to see out what was and wasn't possible. Because a train is public domain I do feel I have the right to take pictures. Again, the lawyer advised me to not paint anybody in a bad light or defame them so they could come after me and sue me. I run the risk of being sued, but I'm confident the law is on my side. (Access Atlanta's Jamie Gumbrecht reached out to MARTA. General Manager Bev Scott — and we're paraphrasing here — said it's all good.)

Coming from a place like Boston, which is dense and walkable, you've got much more transit coverage than Atlanta. What struck you about MARTA?

The negative differences were the lack of lines. When I was here shooting the project, I rode every line, top to bottom, in about four hours. I was surprised by the lack of lines in such a spread-out city. Boston's much more dense. You've got more commuters. People from businessmen to families to students to the homeless. You've got everybody riding the train. It seemed that wasn't the case here. But MARTA's much nicer than the T, in terms of trains. The trains are much wider, cleaner, newer. It was surprising to me. (laughs)

(Photo by Dejan Djordevic)

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