NEW YORK - There's never a shortage of characters in the subway. Rick McGuire has carved out a living by finding the most head-turning moments in the system and sharing them on social media.
"We see the most outrageous stuff and there was nowhere that this was being documented," McGuire says.
McGuire launched his Subway Creatures website in 2011 to do just that. But he found his biggest audience on Instagram where he now has 1.6 million followers.
A video of a rider on the L train dressed as the Stephen King character PennyWise racked up more than 803,000 views. A clip of a passenger reacting to actor Ben Stiller saw nearly a million views.
While we live in an age where everyone is looking for that viral moment, McGuire says he's able to spot a staged setup.
"I've been doing this for almost 10 years and I've really almost become an expert," he explains.
McGuire began by posting his own photos and videos, but now he receives hundreds of submissions a day. He picks photos and videos that he believes will get the most reaction.
It's become so popular, McGuire left his job as a television producer and turned his hobby into a career. He earns income through sponsored posts and Subway Creatures merchandise. He has also started partnering with musicians, posting videos like one of Hozier performing at the Rockefeller Center subway stop. While the account has plenty of fans, it has critics too who say it exploits people and invades their privacy.
"There is an ethical side to this where you have to decipher sometimes is someone in a vulnerable position where you probably shouldn't post something," McGuire says.
Though McGuire now posts videos from all over the world, he says nothing compares to the New York City's transit system — from a rat spotted in a MetroCard machine, to a baby shark on the 'F' train. He says nothing would surprise him.
"There's such an eclectic crowd, you're gonna come across anything," he says.
And McGuire plans to continue swiping through video submissions day in and day out to share the oddest subway sightings for all to see.