Anyone looking at Stan Raucher’s images can see that he has a keen eye for capturing human interactions and emotions in unguarded moments. Whether it’s fervent religious believers celebrating Holy Week in Guatemala, or people on streets and subways around the world, Raucher brilliantly portrays snippets of daily living.
For over 30 years, Raucher was professor of chemistry at the University of Washington. In 2003, he indulged a lifelong interest and took an extension course in photography at the university. During this course of study, he learned about shooting blackand- white film, composition and working in the darkroom. “I’ve always been intrigued by looking at people, and found that I really enjoyed photographing them,” he says.
He shoots digitally now but says that everything he learned in the traditional darkroom applies to digital processes, “especially in black-and-white.” Looking back, he values his film-based darkroom experience, and he currently uses Adobe Photoshop Lightroom in the digital darkroom. He retired from his teaching position in 2011, which gave him more time to pursue his passions of travel and photography. Now he travels the world to document people and real life around him. “It’s a great way to enjoy my retirement,” he says.
After finishing the university extension course, Raucher continued this pursuit by taking numerous photographic workshops, as well as attending a professional development program at Artist Trust, a Seattle-based arts promotion group. “The Artist Trust intensive course detailed what galleries would like to see, how to put portfolios together and everything aside from the actual creation of art.” He has also attended portfolio reviews where he received important feedback on his work.
In 2007, he took a street photography workshop from Peter Turnley in Paris. Regarding the pictures he took aboard the Metro, he notes, “I wasn’t very skillful at that point, but I got one or two interesting images that I wound up using.” When he first started, he wasn’t thinking about creating a project per se, he explains. “I was just interested in doing street and candid photography of people.” Then in 2009, he took pictures on the streets and subways of New York City during a workshop with Ernesto Bazan. Later that year, he went to a photo festival in China, where he took more pictures on the Shanghai Metro. “Then I realized that this had to be a project,” he says, “and started concentrating my travels in places where I could photograph on public transportation systems.”
Raucher’s Metro project was selected as a finalist for the 2012 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography at Duke University. He then showed this project to Taj Forer and Michael Itkoff, the cofounders of Daylight Books, at the Photolucida Portfolio Reviews in 2013 and 2015. Daylight Books published his monograph entitled Metro: Scenes from an Urban Stage in 2016. The 50 images in this book represent countless hours he spent over an eight-year period photographing in over twenty cities on four continents.
When asked if his subjects are aware that they’re being photographed, Raucher replies, “I try to make my images candid. I have the camera hanging around my neck, but I don’t raise it to my eye when taking a picture. People are lost in their own world on public transportation systems, and usually they are not aware that I’m photographing them.”