From the mailbag: Jake Marsico’s “Blue Tram”

Jake Marsico - Blue Tram (detail)

Jake Marsico just wrote in to let us know about his new project “Blue Tram.” The pictures are interesting, and the presentation is especially worth a look. It reminds me a bit of some long photos we’ve featured previously. I asked Jake a bit about the photos and the project.

Jake Marsico: The Alexandria tram system runs the length of this city and is used extensively by the middle and lower classes. I’ve been living in/visiting Alexandria for the past four years and it has become one of my favorite cities on earth. Unlike Cairo, Alexandria is extremely laid back, especially during the winter (I’m guessing the constant sea breeze helps calm people’s nerves).

As for choosing the tram, i feel like it’s a good representation of the city as a whole; it has resisted change (still only about 5 cents a ride) and it’s in a state of a constant, but elegant decay. Most of all, it’s a window into the communal nature of alexandrians: this is a city that lives on the streets – everyone seems to know each other, even when they’ve just met. Unlike the States, it’s perfectly acceptable for an old man to sit next to you and rest his hand on your leg as a father would, and talk to you. There’s one frame in here that i particularly like, it’s of an old man speaking to a younger guy. It looks like a great story and the younger guy seems to be enjoying it greatly.

dvafoto: Why shoot it this way?
Jake Marsico: I had been experimenting with different ways to shoot the tram – from different angles, with natural light, with strobes. I ended up shooting this way for two reasons, for one it was the easiest way to be consistent: straight on, set up the camera and light and just wait for trams to pass. The other reason is that i wanted to present the tram in a unique way online. I’ve been in the process of learning basic html coding and i’ve seen horizontal scrolling before on several of my favorite photo websites, i thought this would be a great way to utilize horizontal scrolling in a unique way. I also like the dirty effect you get when using strobe on moving subjects.

In the end, it’s about getting a shot of someone in their most natural state. Alexandrians are so hospitable that natural, unintrusive street photography is nearly impossible. If they notice a camera is pointing at them, they’ll almost inevitably look straight at the camera and smile, then invite you for tea. It’s such a warm gesture but makes for boring, unnatural photos. These images also show the city’s residents in a rare down time between work life and home life. Most of them are just staring out the window, deep in thought.

2 Responses to “From the mailbag: Jake Marsico’s “Blue Tram””

  1. Bluetram is finished « jake marsico photographer

    […] image is finally finished. I’m pretty proud of it. You can check it out here. The guys at were also kind enough to post it on their great photojournalism blog and let me say a few things […]

  2. David

    Sweet, I like it.

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