People automatically presume that David Bradford is first and foremost, a cab driver, and as an afterthought, took-up photography. Not by all mean to demean cab driving, but Bradford was in fact, throughout his earlier life always keenly interested in the visual and performing arts. He relocated to New York City in 1978, fresh from Rhode Island School of Design’s illustration program, and became an art director for no less than Saks Fifth Avenue. After a decade there, Bradford quit to freelance as an illustrator and a designer. In the 1990s, he took to cab driving to make ends meet, while still creating his own art. Pushing a cab, the artist in Bradford saw the city from yet another perspective, calling New York City “the greatest stage on Earth.”
Bradford was behind the wheel for 18 years, a time which also surely had its artistic payback, as he captured the soul of a city which is home to 8 million people.
The body of work he amassed during those years was initially published in Drive-By Shootings, a book that has photographs Bradford spent shooting for 10 years while a cab driver, using a Kyocera Yashica T4 camera. In 2006, a second volume of photographs was published to reprise Drive-By Shootings.
Entitled The New York Taxi Back Seat Book, this follow-up shares more intimate stories about the passengers he shuttled while driving a cab. In those 18 years total, Bradford also got lured by the video medium. With his cell phone camera he shot several 15 second video clips, combining visuals with the audio from the in car radio. Some of these rough and raw pieces were exhibited at a show at The Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City.
Bradford is well-known nowadays all over the world. He is kept busy these days with digitizing hundreds of film negatives for a permanent installation at the Zoxx Gallery in The Netherlands as well as in Australia, where he will soon be featured on Photodoco.com. He now shoots with a Leica M9, and is no longer behind the wheel of a cab.
Go see more of Bradford’s work in his website.