Doomed Man on Subway Tracks: Opinion

If you happen to take a look at the recent New York Post cover of the below photo is what you’ll see. It’s an attention grabbing image, showing a man who is moments away from being struck and killed by an oncoming subway train in New York City. It’s also a controversial image, not just because of the morbid moment it captures, but because of the fact that it even exists.

The background: the man in the image was 58-year-old Queens resident Ki Suk Han. He was reportly pushed onto the tracks at 12:30pm by a panhandler who had been harassing passersby. Han had approached the man in an attempt to calm him down.

After being shoved into the path of the soon-to-arrive train, Han struggled desperately to lift himself onto the platform, but wasn’t strong enough.

R. Umar Abbasi, a freelance photographer for the New York Post, was present at the scene. He claims that after he was unable to help Han himself, he began using his camera flash to warn the train’s operator. He tells the Post, “I just started running, running, hoping that the driver could see my flash.” The train couldn’t stop fast enough.

This is only my opinion but the photographer’s story is flimsy, as a photographer I see that the framing of the shot and can tell you it is a well composed image(discounting the horrific imagery). It has leading lines to the train then the train coming toward the man about to be hit. The photo also adheres to the rule of thirds, top third the train and bottom third the man. That exit sign is also very straight. Why not just admit to the truth as a photographer we take pictures and if see something we find interesting our reaction is to take pictures. If you are trying to get the attention of the conductor with flash why are the pictures not of the conductor’s window filled with the reflection of your flash.
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One Comment

  1. Clockwork Rebel
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Controversial or not this will forever be an iconic image like so many others that winded up on a list by Time magazine. So many memorable pictures are of violent scenes. Example: The monk who lit himself on fire.

    I’d say it’s easier to be honest and admit the truth. A professional photographer is conditioned to witness, and capture, not get involved. Its what makes a good photographer. To make exscuses after the fact is only the man trying to defend himself against a tide of crticism from non participants in the event. Its so easy for others to say they would try to help, but how many of them could have acted fast enough, or aoided freezing?

    I say its part “bystander affect” part reaction. No different than a soldier raising his rifle to a target, or hand that shoots out to catch a falling person. The poor photographer is busy fielding heat that should be directed at the paper for publishing a front page photo of a person who was violently murdered moments later. The controversy is misplaced.

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