Bombay Taxi

October 13, 2013 ·

Azhar Chougle

It’s easy to make a ‘good’ picture of something. It’s harder to do it twice. Or thrice. Or say, fifty times. That’s what any photographer who wants to pursue the art as a profession has to come to realize. A collective of images, a tight woven net of photographs, is one that takes on meaning. It tells a story, it has weight, it becomes a narrative. Pursuing a story, phenomenon or thesis is by no means an easy undertaking. It involves constantly expanding your horizons, broadening your views and chasing your images one after the other ; then editing it into something meaningful, all the while dealing with bouts of failure, (which is very much a part of the process).

The things closest to you (almost) always churn out your best work. I don’t mean that in physical terms. I mean it in the emotional sense. Something you care about will create work that you care about.

I started documenting the rustic taxis of Bombay and ended up doing so for three months. They will soon disappear due to relentless pace of modernization in the city. These gleaming gaudy black Padmini cabs are something I grew up around, and I’m quite heartbroken to see them go. During my rush hour commute to work I started documenting each of my journeys.

There were a lot of days where I came back empty handed. It’s just a part of the process. You can’t capture it all each day. It’s a slow and time consuming process. Just have to keep shooting, and shooting a lot. For each of the images you see here, there are sometimes 25-50 shots I took in that minute or an hour before everything came together and the moment happened.

You have to be willing to explore all angles of your story. That can involve travel, danger, heights, bugs, heat or what-not. I walked around past two in the morning to find empty streets and abandoned cabs. I took cabs late at night and they’d run lights and speed through sodium-lit streets.

It’s easy miss things if you aren’t paying attention. You don’t stop to pick up calls or check your e-mail when you’re out there. A very important thing I’ve come to realize is that you have to know your tools like the back of your hand. Know instinctively, without looking at them, which dial does what, in what direction can you go up an F-stop, you have to know it all like clockwork. I missed so many moments because of a wrong turn of the wrong dial. Be ready, always, you never know what can happen, always be on edge, you could miss something that you will never have in front of you again.

Sometimes the best photographs I made were the ones where I took a moment to look behind me, or didn’t put down my camera even after I thought I got the shot. “Just one more picture“, I’d say to myself.

Interior of an autorickshaw taxi.

Never be afraid to take chances, because that’s what makes a good story. Follow your gut. Run around, climb the stairs, wait on a bridge. Suck in everything around you through your lens. Never give up, give it time, and live in your story.

October, 2010


See The Full Series at

All Images Copyright Azhar Chougle

Azhar Chougle is a photojournalist who lives in Bombay, India
and studies in New York, New York.

His portfolio is at

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