F's Tweets
Powered by Squarespace


Pixie Set Photo Sharing
F. Carter Smith Portfolio
« Astros Provide Joy for Devastated City | Main | Respect for Lady Gaga »

"Taxi Rider" turns 40

In the summer of 1977, having moved back to Houston to pursue my career in photojournalism, I soon needed a more dependable vehicle. My 1955 Buick Roadmaster was beginning to rust. Plus it was difficult to park due to its whale-like size. A fellow journalist started leasing a small fleet of Yellow Cabs, and soon I had a new Checker Cab to call my 24/7 mobile office. 

With my Nikon F 35mm camera resting beside me in the front seat, I watched the humanity that passed through my back seat. Chatting with each customer was easy for me, then I could turn around, shoot a single candid frame and then explain what I was doing. Only once did I come across an upset subject. I quickly learned to seek permission at night as I needed to use flash.

Pagers* were the cutting-edge technology of the day. An editor could reach out whenever there was breaking news and I would head that way. If I had a fare, I would drive faster! Taxi Zone parking came in quite handy. There was no Google Maps, of course, but there was the Key Map**. Knowledge of the city and its best routes was essential. So, I really had two concurrent vocations. As a taxi driver, I drove constantly to earn my daily rental of about $100, not including gasoline. I enjoyed the late night pancakes with other drivers at The House of Pies or The Dot Coffee Shop, where we mainlined coffee waiting for the bars to close.

These are a few shots from this series of photographs I made called "Taxi Rider" which was published in Houston City Magazine 40 years ago.



**Pager (aka beeper) is a wireless device that receives and displays messages developed in the 1950s and 1960s, and became widely used by the 1980s.

*Key Map is a unique and easy to use grid system of Houston and Harris County maps. There is a genuine affection that many people have for holding and actually reading maps rather than staring at a device's screen.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (8)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>