Commuters Asleep on D.C. Metro in Photo Series ‘Sleep in Transit’

man asleep on the train

Ideas for new photo series need not be overly complicated. Take for example Sleep in Transit by commercial and editorial photographer Willis Bretz which features commuters who have fallen asleep on the Washington D.C. metrorail system. Willis had been working an office job for a few years before he decided to pursue his passion in photography instead. Having shot glamour in the past, he found himself delving deeper into portraiture.

asian woman asleep on dc metro

man on dc metro asleep leaning on window

He shares how he first began the project Sleep in Transit in an interview with Fstoppers,

At the time, my daily commute was a 45 minute metro ride to and from where I worked in Washington D.C. Like most people, I would listen to music or bury my face into the newspaper or a book. There was one evening on my commute home when I was trying to solve the daily Sudoku puzzle. In my frustration over the puzzle, I looked up and there was this woman sleeping in the most awkward position while sitting on the train. I definitely chuckled a little inside as I’m sure everyone else within viewing distance did. I don’t know why, but I felt I needed to photograph her with my iPhone so I could share the laugh with my girlfriend.

woman falling asleep on dc metro

The next day’s commute on the Metro was spent being more observant than usual. Instead of losing himself in other activities, he got to work snapping photos of sleeping commuters with his iPhone. Later on in the series, he switched to his Fujifilm X100 and mentions how it is the perfect camera for this type of photo series. For one, he had to be discreet. Another issue was focal length.

Even though it has a prime lens that is not interchangeable, its focal length was perfect. Its 23mm lens comes out to about 35mm with the camera’s crop factor. This made it ideal for shooting across the aisle or even if I was photographing the person sitting right next to me. Also, the X100 is small. This made it easy to act as if I wasn’t taking a picture when in fact I really was.

man laying on seats in dc metro

There are 86 photos in the series all in all. The final number was chosen to represent the 86 metro stations that make up the D.C. rail system.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.