The Underground: Kalen Hollomon’s Guide To People Watching

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Using a combination of collage, photography, and a little bit of Photoshop, Hollomon creates mixed media images rife with a wicked sense of humor, tongue always planted firmly in cheek. Despite its irreverence, the goal goes deeper. “I am always concerned with what lies beneath the surface. I hope to create conversation that is rooted in questions related to learned social rules, identity, the subtext of everyday situations and perception. Above all, I try to capture a sense of romance in images that are spontaneous and slightly unnerving.”

Hollomon’s Instagram has proven to be a runaway success, one of those feeds you look forward to amongst the humdrum of uncreative humble brags and pictures from brunch. With a bag full of cut-outs, Holloman is ready to take most perfectly weird photos around the city imaginable—the result often a laugh-out-loud superimposition of something out of context, changing the narrative completely.

When it comes to people watching in New York, there was no better person to ask than Mr. Hollomon, who obliged to share with us his favorite places to spy on this city’s endless sea of strangers… and the wealth of weird material that they provide.

A note from Kalen Hollomon:
New York is a diverse metropolis full of people from all over the world, making it a fantastic place to be a watcher. Around every corner there’s a character for your viewing pleasure. Bewildered tourists narrowly avoid being trampled by hurrying natives brushing elbows as they rapidly pass each other on the street. I love it all— from being trampled to doing a little trampling myself—but every once in a while I enjoy stepping back and watching it all happen in front of my eyes. Watching people often helps me gain compassion and perspective. Here are some locations I find fascinating for people watching:


Art Openings, Galleries, and Museums

Art galleries are great because everyone’s standing around looking at the art or listening to their friend talk about last night.


Nail Salons and Spas
The nail salon is an interesting place to watch how people respond differently to being pampered.


Your neighborhood bodega has good watching because you can watch the regulars slowly change over time, and everyone’s starving.


Bars are great. People are often a little more open then usual. Everyone’s inner darkness starts to seep out—sexuality, depression, ego, whatever. Everyone’s just there thinking about taking their clothes off.


Retail Stores
Shoppers are often crazy. I like to see the ones that are really cheap, but want an item so bad they go through this long, immensely miserable personal battle leading up to the final purchase moment.


The Metro
I love people watching on the train, a place where all ages and almost all walks of life mix together, squeezed in, stuck in a tight area surrounded by strangers. Personal space is compromised regularly and it often feels like I’m inhaling the exhale of the bastard next to me. Trapped, I stare at dandruff-covered shoulders as I feel foreign breath recycle inside of me.


I enjoy watching people do whatever they’re doing the public restroom, where we all wish we were alone.

All photos courtesy of Kalen Holloman. You can follow him on Instagram @KALEN_HOLLOMAN.





Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, specializing in music, fashion, the arts, and culture, both high and low. Her work has been featured in Cereal, Lenny Letter, and more.