Capturing ‘Out Cold’ Commuters with TIME’s @PatrickWitty

Patrick Witty (@patrickwitty) spends his days editing and curating photos as TIME magazine’s international picture editor. But in late March, Witty inadvertently embarked on his own photo series when he began documenting fellow commuters that had seemingly fallen asleep on the subway.

"One morning I was on my way to work, standing directly in front of this woman with incredible hair—an explosion of color and texture, the white earphone cord dangling below, so I took a picture. She was fast asleep so I haphazardly captioned the picture, ‘Out cold on the 2. #commute.’ I took another one the next day and it sort of snowballed from there."

Despite the appearance that the people in his photos are sleeping, most are actually engrossed in their mobile devices. “I’m not sure people realize this, but most of these people are not asleep. They are looking down, lost in their phones or tablets. And I’m doing exactly the same thing. So they are self-portraits in some ways,” says Witty.

What’s been the reaction to Patrick’s photos? “Most people find them humorous, some find it odd, some depressing. I think they are all of these things. I’m definitely not trying to make fun of anyone… It’s a testimony to the subway’s diversity and individuality.”

Join Patrick’s daily commute by following him on Instagram: @patrickwitty.