One of the signature symbols of our colorful city are the beaten-up Mercedes taxis (also locally known as “Service” when they pick-up several riders along the way), renowned for the stories told by their curious drivers and sardine-like, “all you can fit” business strategy. They have no problem crossing from one side of the street to the other, regardless if there are three lanes in between, to fetch a possible customer. And boy do they love to honk!
Their nuances, however, are also their charm as we can’t imagine the city without them. Just as barbers are the local social hub for exchanging news, gossip and other anecdotes between citizens, taxi or service drivers also seize the chance to get to know their riders better and instill their own life’s philosophies.
We wanted to see how the Beirut Street Photographers community would capture the theme “Taxi” to best reflect this essence. It was a very close choice (as usual), but the winning shot was clearly the following by a new BSP member who we look forward to seeing more from in the future:
“The charming relationship between the customer and the driver means a lot to me. I did not have a car back in Beirut, so imagine how many hours, moments and minutes were spent behind that driver’s seat.. I took this picture in a blink of an eye. I knew this moment won’t last forever, and with every minute, the driver’s foot was pressing on the “gas”, the chances of me seeing that view again were low..” Farah describes. This shot was taken on her way to the airport – her “last shot before departure” (She’s currently in the US for her Masters).
The way the shot was captured puts us in the backseat, also joining in that brief moment of transition. Even without knowing more about the photograph, we get the effect through the composition, mood and angle guiding us to a less detailed background. We’re all joining in this journey to something, maybe unknown, but we have the taxi driver carefully taking us there..
With further analysis, I come to appreciate this photograph even more. The empty seat by the driver strikes the perfect balance, dividing the shot into showing the foreground and background in an almost ethereal manner. The touch of light is almost spiritual. We catch a small glimpse of the driver himself in the mirror, but his body language does all the talking – highlighting his pensive mood while focussing on driving. Even the little details within the cab itself help us build more information about the driver, such as the signature accessories taxi drivers in this region add to their cars.
As always, we are curious to hear how others interpret the photograph as it’s such a subjective matter. What stood out for you and what did you like most about the photo? We’re all ears (and so is the taxi driver)..