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These Backseat Taxi Photos Are An Incredible Fashion Time Capsule

Too. Cool.

If New York City streets are runways, New York City taxis are backstage.

Ryan Weideman is an artist who moved to New York in 1980 in hopes of becoming a street photographer. He took a job driving a cab to pay bills, and began photographing his passengers. Nearly 40 years later, it’s clear he captured a time capsule not just of people, but of style, too.

Odalisque in the Back of a Hack, 1982
Odalisque in the Back of a Hack, 1982

“By photographing the spectrum of characters comprising this burgeoning period ― from models to poets, drag queens to celebrities, business men to prostitutes ― Ryan Weideman skillfully transformed his taxicab into a highly-functional artist studio,” states a summary by the Bruce Weinstein gallery, which represents Weideman.

You Put Me on Ecstasy When You Ride Next to Me, 1982
You Put Me on Ecstasy When You Ride Next to Me, 1982

Weideman shot the photos during his shifts, which were from 5 p.m. to 5 p.m., according to the gallery. In some of the photos, Weideman is pictured with his subject (the original selfie, if you will), while in others, only the passenger is captured.

In a 2016 New York Times article, writer John Leland wrote that although Weideman “usually” asked permission of his subjects, he once “said simply, ‘Don’t move, I’m a photographer,’ and just started shooting.”

Riding with Dream Lovers in Love, 1983
Riding with Dream Lovers in Love, 1983

His photos can be seen in a 91-page book aptly titled “In My Taxi,” and were most recently on display this summer at the Espronceda gallery in Barcelona, Spain.

Ruby Duby Do, 1982
Ruby Duby Do, 1982

The power suits, the fishnets, feathered hair ― it’s all so deliciously plucked from the ’80s and ’90s. Although the hair and clothing has evolved, there’s one thing that hasn’t: the debauchery that goes on in the back of a cab late at night. Except for maybe the photo with a dog.

Check out that and more images from the provocative series below.

Ryan Weideman
Beauty Aloof, 1982
Ryan Weideman
The Loneliness of The Front Seat, 1997
Ryan Weideman
Mystery Couple, 1998
Ryan Weideman
Self-Portrait with Transvestite, 1997
Ryan Weideman
Self-Portrait with Passenger Allen Ginsberg, 1990
Ryan Weideman
In the Shadows, Lower East Side, 1992
Ryan Weideman
8 Punk Rockers [with Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys], 1982
Ryan Weideman
Self-Portrait with Cowboy, 1998