The act of voyeurism has been making people’s hair stand on end since the dawn of time. Have you ever watched someone, unaware of your presence, through a window? Have you ever been on the top deck of a bus and pulled up next to another bus only to be side to side with a stranger? Getting a semi-intimate, snaffled peep into a stranger’s life is simultaneously thrilling and eerie — perhaps this is why John Schabel’s voyeuristic photographs of aeroplane passengers strike such a chord with us.
Back in the 1990s, armed with an enormous lens, John waited patiently by the runways of numerous airports trying to get the perfect shot. Surprisingly, he was only occasionally politely asked to leave, which compared to the almighty amount of trouble he’d be in if he did that nowadays is pretty impressive. The photographs are now collated in a book entitled Passengers which, due to Shabel’s obsessive nature, has only just been completed almost a decade later.
John Schabel will be signing copies of Passengers at the International Center of Photography on February 22nd.