Photographer captures MARTA riders on iPhone

Dejan Djordjevic rides the train to work every day in Boston, and many days, he takes out his iPhone and snaps photos of those around him -- the businesspeople, homeless guys, schoolkids. He began posting them on Facebook, just to keep it interesting. Then, the images became a Web site, www.subway-series.com, and a gallery show in Boston that revealed the day-to-day comings and goings on the city's transit system.

During one weekend of riding MARTA, Djordjevic gave Atlanta the same photo treatment. This weekend, a gallery show featuring the images runs at The Granite Room in Castleberry Hill.

MARTA asks photographers and filmmakers to seek permission before shooting or filming at stations; Djordjevic didn't. In a statement, MARTA CEO Beverly Scott said:  "As a matter of policy, MARTA cannot prohibit individuals from taking photos or videos for noncommercial purposes with hand-held cameras in public areas of our system. However, as operators of the largest mass transit system in the South for the past 30 years, we recognize that MARTA is more than just about moving people around. It is also a moving piece of art that appeals to the creative impulse and often captivates the public's imagination."

Here’s what Djordjevic, 26, had to say about the project.

Question: Why did you start the Subway Series?

Answer: It was a little Facebook fun project. Most of my friends would post a joke daily, or a riddle, something random to keep people commenting. I tried to come up with something I could do that wouldn’t take me away from my daily routine. I take the train to work and the iPhone has a camera, and I’ve always been interested in photography. I’d take pictures of people on the train and post it on Facebook, and people kept commenting.

Q: What was it like shooting in Boston and Atlanta?

A: It was a bit of a different experience shooting on MARTA. When I did this in Boston, it was during my commute to and from work. I didn’t seek out people. Some of my MARTA shots are much better than Boston, but I guess because my eye was going toward people I thought would look good in pictures.

I rode every line top to bottom, red, gold, blue, green. I was a little nervous at first because my friends told me to be careful. I was told riding MARTA wasn’t a great experience. I had no problems. The trains seem to be much newer and lighter.

Q: Do you ever introduce yourself to people and let them know what you’re doing, or do you just put the camera away and move on?

A: I put the camera away and move on. Sometimes I get really close to a person’s face, where it looks like I’m just playing with my iPhone, trying to find a song. In a year and a half, not one person has asked me about it.

I’ve been criticized for not identifying with my subjects. Most photographers meet their subjects. I have no idea what these people are thinking, feeling, where they’re going what they’re doing. The beauty of the Subway Series is “He’s in a business suit. Is he going to work? Is he going to a divorce lawyer?”

Q: Do you worry that you’re invading people’s privacy or that they'll sue you?

A: Before the Boston show opened, I did contact a lawyer to see what I can and cannot do. Because it is a train, I believe it to be a public domain. I feel that I can take these pictures. In that regard, do I worry about people suing me? Of course, but I do believe the train to be a public space. I don’t want to defame anybody.

Q: Do you still like taking the train?

A: I do. I was worried after all the [media attention in Boston] that someone would say something, not be too happy. I was worried about taking the train after that, but it’s the easiest way for me to commute from home to work. I guess everybody is in it for the same thing, going from point A to Point B.

INFO

Subway Series exhibition. 7-10 p.m. April 9, noon-5 p.m. April 10. Free. The Granite Room, 211 Peters St., Atlanta. 404-221-0201, www.subway-series.com .