“The photo was part of a National Geographic series on population. The folks in the office at the Geographic all wanted me to make this photograph at Churchgate Station. It’s been made before. But at that time the location was a lunchroom and anybody could go up there with a tripod and shoot a long exposure of people coming out of those trains. But after the 2007 terror attack it became a military control center. They didn’t let anybody in. As my fixer and I were traveling around, we hired a guy to go to all the security offices and try to get permission for me to do it, but we ran into brick walls everywhere. There was more pressure, with the office saying, 'Look, we’re gonna run someone else’s picture if you don’t get this.' So we tried again finally got a government official to say, 'If he was Indian, then we’d let him up there.'
The only Indian guy I trusted was my fixer, so I put together a photographic kit and sent him up there with a tripod. I then sent the runner to ferry the digital card back. It was taken at rush hour so we would get as many people as possible pouring through the frame. I would put the card in another camera, look at it, then send instructions back with that runner, saying, 'Wider,' 'Tilt it up,' or 'Longer exposure.' It was about ten trips in all! Mostly to fine-tune the shutter speed to get the blurring effect I wanted.
Meanwhile, I was sitting in a van outside in the street with G.I. Joe in Hindi blaring on the little DVD screen up front. [Laughs] I felt like I was doing something illegal, and at any moment I was going to get caught.
It took quite a while but there were a few frames that worked. And this is one of them.”
Location: Mumbai, India
Photograph Date: 2011
Medium: Chromogenic Print