Toronto’s taxi drivers in the spotlight through this photographer’s lens
They know the city streets like the back of their hands. They’ve accumulated weeks worth of trivia, useful information, personal stories, and anecdotes of the varied cast of characters that they’ve had the opportunity to meet. Taxi drivers have a treasure trove of stories to tell, and for photographer Henry VanderSpek, they are some of the most intriguing photo subjects for his new photo series.
“Taxi Drivers of Toronto,” his new exhibition, is currently on display this month as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. The photo series aims to delve deep into the lives and stories of the drivers going around the streets of Toronto.
“They move us around, but what moves them?” the exhibit asks, as the series takes viewers not just into the drivers’ cabs, but into bits of their lives.
VanderSpek told CBC Toronto that he began taking interest in taxi drivers when he was still working at a refugee agency, and a taxi driver brought a claimant to the organization despite the lack of a sign identifying the agency.
He said that the driver had asked around among his friends, tapping into what VanderSpek describes as a social network of taxi drivers.
In 2013, the Toronto photographer began documenting the lives of these drivers, asking them about their work, anecdotes to share, their experiences. He’s learned how they keep busy and pass the time while waiting for passengers; how some have moved on with their lives; and how the job is usually seen as a first job for many immigrants.
See some of his selected photos, and his memories of particular drivers, in this CBC story.