November 27, 2016 11:29:57 pm
Talk about the iconic yellow taxis and instantly pictures of two metropolitan cities would flash before your eye – New York and Calcutta. These public transports have been part of the cities’ character and mood since decades, and are often emblematic of these places as well. As interesting as these cabs are, the lives of those driving them are even more so.
After we’ve ‘ogled at’ and objectified the chaiwalas, tarkariwalis and security guards of the world, the time has come for the cab drivers. But thankfully, here the reason is more than skin deep.
Now, there is calendar available for sale that highlights beauty of taxi drivers of New York but not in the way the above notice has been highlighted. These photographs are a means to get an insight about their lives, their side of story that goes unheard. A city-based couple took upon the task of showing the beauty of these drivers but of their lives and souls not just physical characteristics.
Philip Kirkman and his wife Shannon McLaughlin started the project on their own using funds from their own pocket and even compensating the drivers for their time. Talking exclusively with the indianexpress.com, Kirkman informed, “The original idea came from a tongue-in-cheek calendar we made of my oldest brother as a Christmas gift to his wife/our sister-in-law back in 2012.” After their efforts were loved by family and friends they decided to expand their reach and target a larger audience.
“Shannon and I brainstormed on how we could expand the idea for a larger audience. We considered other groups (e.g. sanitation workers), but ultimately landed on yellow cab drivers due to their iconic status, yet relative lack of visibility (or appreciation),” said Philip Kirkman in an email interview.
The New York Taxi’s drivers’ calendar is not out for the first time; in fact, the project is four years old as their first project was launched in December 2013.
Sharing about the experience and shooting, Shannon Kirkman, the photographer responsible for the funny and sensuous photos said, “Photographing the calendar is always fun, and shooting in the streets of New York City always presents challenges. But we are never short on beautiful scenery – both from the city or from the drivers!” She also explained how each character and the corresponding background was chosen, “Each shoot is very different based on the scenes we have chosen and the driver’s comfort level, but they all have the same general flow. We really try to showcase each of the drivers’ unique personalities while remaining within their individual comfort zones.”
Shooting in urban spaces can always be extremely tricky and difficult, especially with just a two-member team. “Phil and I are a team – he does most of the creative planning beforehand, so during the shoots he is both directing and also sometimes holding lighting, adjusting props and making sure we don’t get run over by passing cars.” For the perfect frame and picture, sometimes they have to wait for the red-light to lie down or even climb and balance on a fire hydrant!
The 2017 calendar is up for sale and features 12 taxi drivers, their stories and what makes them unique. Many are immigrants with different dreams, and this job is just a stepping stone. The happy pictures certainly make one smile and one can also understand the comfort and bond they share with the photographers.
The amount collected from the sale will be donated to “University Settlement, America’s oldest settlement house (1886), based in New York City’s Lower East Side and serving over 30,000 immigrant and working individuals and families every year with basic services like quality education, housing, recreation and wellness opportunities, and literacy programs.”
The calendar can be bought at $14.99 and can be shipped anywhere in the world.
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