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September 28, 2017

Candid Photographs Reveal New York City Taxicab Passengers Taken by Their Own Driver in the 1980s and '90s

A self-described “photographer-taxi driver,” Ryan Weideman presents duotone portraits of punks, white- and blue-collar types, prostitutes, club kids and others who rode in his cab before plunging back into New York City's anonymous throng.

Weideman wrote in his book In My Taxi: New York After Hours, “When I move to New York City in the fall of 1980, it's my first time ever in the East. By then, I know I want to be a photographer, I'm not sure how to pay the rent.”

After migrating east from the California Bay area in 1980, Weideman began driving a spacious Checker cab, capable of accommodating seven passengers. Weideman wrote: “I drive one week on the day shift. The dense traffic is too frustrating, so I quit and and request the night shift - 5 P.M. to 5 A.M.”

In a terse, mercurial introductory essay evocative of the city's intensity, he tells tales of life as a cabbie, explains how he captures his subjects on film and reveals their myriad reactions, from enthusiastic to wildly negative.

The motley New Yorkers here exhibit many attitudes: some glare menacingly yet comply, some seem exasperated, still others smile, attempt sexy poses or appear blase. Weideman occasionally sets up the camera so that his countenance dominates the foreground, separated from the action behind him. These transitory glimpses of radically dissimilar individuals are a sincere, blunt, affectionate document of New York's multicultural night life.

(Photos by Ryan Weideman)


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