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August 23, 2013 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Stanley Kubrick's Amazing Old Photos Of The NYC Subway System
posted by Artw (32 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
nnnnnnnnnnggggah.
posted by The Whelk at 3:48 PM on August 23, 2013


Oh these are wonderful. I get all giddy every time some blog gets their hands on another set of his photographs and these do not disappoint.

Also, if these photos were taken in 1946, he was eighteen years old when he took them. Certainly an accomplishment in its own right, but on top of that, this wasn't only a hobby for Kubrick. At the time he was a working freelance photographer for Look magazine, where he eventually became a staff photographer until he quit and started making film seriously in '51, at the advanced age of twenty three.
posted by griphus at 3:56 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Didn't he sell his first photograph at like fourteen or something similarly shamefully precocious?
posted by The Whelk at 3:57 PM on August 23, 2013


Kubrick - better than you.
posted by Artw at 3:57 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is my favorite of his photos by far. Shorpy have a bunch more of his photos in really hi-res if anyone is interested.
posted by griphus at 4:02 PM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Jesus Christ, Kubrick. We get it, you're awesome. Now quit showing us all up from beyond the fucking grave even.
posted by Etrigan at 4:24 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kubrick hanging out in a mirror.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like these photos because they're a nice view into a different time period, but what, other than the photographer, makes these photos amazing?

Is there some technically great achievement in these photos that differentiates them from others during that time period? (I assume photography was much more difficult and different back then)

Or are people seeing the name and extrapolating that they must be amazing.
posted by mulligan at 4:35 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aside from the first one of the man & woman, these are not very special. SORRY BUT IT'S THE TRUTH.
posted by xmutex at 4:36 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was afraid to say it, but now that the ice has been broken - the word "amazing" is used far too liberally these days.
posted by davebush at 4:40 PM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The 47/50th stop still looks exactly the same. Except it's in color.

And yes, not amazing. Just nice to see the olden days.
posted by nevercalm at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2013


The first one is a nice shot, the ninth one is good, too. The fat guy is kinda low-rent Weegee (and you'd think Weegee was about as low rent as Weegee needed to be). But these would not be getting a second look here if it weren't for Kubrick's name.
posted by yoink at 4:42 PM on August 23, 2013


... i sorta wish the subway still had chewing gum dispensers, for some reason.
posted by yeoz at 4:48 PM on August 23, 2013


Yeah, the photos are nice nostalgia, but they're pretty pedestrian in every other way.
posted by xingcat at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


New York, you make heart flutter.
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:59 PM on August 23, 2013


Catching a couple right before a kiss, without getting in the way? That's worth something, a coin, maybe three. Twice, that's talent.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:02 PM on August 23, 2013


Well, despite the oddly rigorous demands for quality people are placing on a teenage photographer, Unexceptional Photographer Stanley Kubrick grew into Legendary Lifelong Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. He was also one of the most deliberate, purposeful directors. Everything had to be just so with him and plenty of times he did what needed to be done himself. Few directors have a reputation for micromanaging like Kubrick.

The kind of personality that is doesn't spring from nothing halfway through shooting Killer's Kiss or whatever. Some part of that, and many other aspects of his artistic sensibility, were always in him, even when he was shooting these photographs. That's what makes them interesting, for me at least.

And I'll admit that I don't know nearly as much about still photography as other arts, but this photo for instance has a bit of his one-point perspective (at least as far as I understand how that worked, correct me if I am wrong) and a subject of interest that popped up in at least one of his films (Eyes Wide Shut, probably) appearing similar to this.
posted by griphus at 5:19 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's what makes them interesting, for me at least.

Oh, of course they're interesting as historical records of a great artist learning his craft--no one is saying "there's no point in paying any attention to these." Just that outside of the context of "what was a young Kubrick up to as a photographer" there's nothing very inherently interesting in these photos. If this had been a link to "anonymous photos of NY subway turn up" there wouldn't be many "OMG these are amazing!!!" comments.
posted by yoink at 5:24 PM on August 23, 2013


If you're underwhelmed, as I was by these particular subway photos, click through to the archives for a larger selection of the purported total 8-12,000 Kubrick negatives. In the hands of the right editor I have no doubt they would compare more favourably with his contemporaries, but the most interesting part would still be parallels with his film work. Phaidon put out a collection, but like many of the best photo books, it's out of print and going for several hundred dollars used.
posted by Lorin at 5:28 PM on August 23, 2013


May need to filter that link further on arrival, but there are quite a few Kubrick images.
posted by Lorin at 5:33 PM on August 23, 2013


So many hats!
posted by unknowncommand at 6:12 PM on August 23, 2013


I like the newsstand shot, if only because of the very on-the-nose periodical titles: True Experiences, Detective, Movie Star Year [Book?], Popular Music. For some reason I am reminded of a fictional periodical mentioned in a Jack Vance novel: Interesting Activities of the Elite.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:56 PM on August 23, 2013


Totally unremarkable in almost every respect. As mentioned above http://www.shorpy.com will give you far more interesting images. The fact that they're Kubrick's is the only thing that warrants attention. And even then, all I'm seeing is a novice photographer's mediocre work.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:56 PM on August 23, 2013


He's got a good eye. This guy ought to try making movies or something.
posted by happyroach at 7:01 PM on August 23, 2013


Yeah, the photos are nice nostalgia, but they're pretty pedestrian in every other way.

And he's a pretty terrible railfan. He's not even trying to photograph any rolling stock or track alignments. I'll give him credit for accidentally capturing some of the signage, though it would have been nice if he had made an attempt of documenting how it might have reflected the recent connection between the IND Culver Line and BMT Culver Line.

This guy could learn a thing or two from www.nycsubway.org
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:39 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This photo could have been taken in black and white today and I wouldn't know the difference. The guy seriously looks like he's looking at a cell phone, and is wearing some kind of zany tie I would associate more with the early 1990's than the 1950's. In fact, the woman standing with him has that head hunched over looking at phone look as well. Which is really weird when you consider that we only barely got cell phone service in NYC subway stations in the 2010's. I guess they could be using their phone as watch.

The women speaking to each other are dressed in a bit of a dated fashion, but I sometimes see people in NYC who dress like that for cultural/religious reasons.

At least comforting to know that NYC subway stations largely looked as crappy back then as they do now? I do see much fewer black stains on the floors, but I guess the gum vending machines changed that soon enough...

This one looks strangely "modern" too, apart from the woman's dress, which is just a touch more retro than you usually see these days. Maybe it's the guy sleeping on the floor that makes it seem so modern? The page loaded with that one and I honestly thought this was going to be a set of those 1970s/1980s photos of the NYC subway with graffiti everywhere.
posted by pravit at 7:49 PM on August 23, 2013


If this had been a link to "anonymous photos of NY subway turn up" there wouldn't be many "OMG these are amazing!!!" comments.

I'm really tired of the shouty, enthusiastic Buzzfeed/Flavorwire/Cracked style of showing us lists of AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, stuff YOU WON'T BELIEVE.

It's just so crass and linkbaity and vulgar.

And yeah, these Kubrick pics aren't AMAZING.
posted by Unified Theory at 7:52 PM on August 23, 2013


I think the first one is awesome.
posted by spbmp at 8:50 PM on August 23, 2013


I think they're very nice.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:26 AM on August 24, 2013


i sorta wish the subway still had chewing gum dispensers

No. No you don't.

I agree these aren't amazing technically, mostly, except for a couple -- he was maybe working on perfecting his f-stops or something -- but they are amazing artifacts of the time. That alone may or may not appeal to you.

Also, first one is clearly Roger Sterling and that girl who inherited the dog food empire.
posted by dhartung at 2:40 AM on August 24, 2013


When is Kubrick going to make something new?
posted by mazola at 9:47 AM on August 24, 2013


The gum machine shot reminded me of Charles Addams' take on the subject: 5¢ Get Thru The Day 5¢....

/derail
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 7:16 PM on August 25, 2013


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