You Can Drive My Car

A photographer remembers her job as a limousine driver in 1980s Brooklyn. It was a good time on both sides of the partition.

In 1988, I had just graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a degree in photography. I thought it would be a good idea to find a job where I could work on a documentary photo series while being paid for working. The idea of driving a taxi came to mind first, but I wasn’t thrilled with constantly-changing passengers who would always be in a hurry to get out of the car and on with their lives—not the best scenario for photographing. Then I thought: Why not drive a limousine? The clients for this service would be with me for hours, and it would be a much better way to photograph.

I started working for a company in downtown Brooklyn that I would describe as being on the low end of the limousine hierarchy. Drivers had to provide liquor and mixers for their clients, and everything was a bit shabby and cheap. I was the only woman chauffeur working from this garage, and I never saw another during my time driving—so I was a bit of a novelty. The customers were primarily wedding parties and prom couples, with the majority of the trips never leaving Brooklyn. Luckily, being a Brooklyn native myself, I already knew the borough. (Of course, this was all pre-GPS navigation.) I worked weekends for approximately nine months to complete the photo project, which I called, simply, “Limousine.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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