The Taxi Driver´s Gaze
By Fernando Gómez
My name is Oscar Fernando Gómez. I was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. I am now 39 years old. At the age of 18, I left home to rent a small place of my own. At the age of 20, I decided to travel to Mazatlán in search of work and a change of life but ended up in the wrong city. I came to a city called Guadalajara, which is four hours away from Mazatlán, and started living on the street, with no Money, just a bag with my personal documents. I lived on the street, and ate popcorn and the remains of soft drinks that people left outside the cinemas. I thought that my life would end there, but then I remembered I had an aunt living in León. Guanajuato. I hitched a ride, on a trailer, a car and a truck carrying strawberries.
I lived there until I was 28 before going back to León, Guanajuato. I bought a Kodak camera to remind myself of the images of the city. I got around by foot or bike. I toured León, Guanajuato, taking pictures.
I went back to Monterrey, by which time I had bought a 35 mm roll of film. I started taking photographs for pleasure, in rivers, hills and all kinds of natural settings. Someone mentioned that a neighbor of mine was going to get married and that I should take photos of the event. From then on, I started taking photographs at events. I had not studied photography, but I had read two things about how to take photos in some two-page photography courses. Over the years, I was given a lot of photography events. I spent a lot on taxis, so I decided to rent one to save on taxi fares and have a car, since I could not afford to buy one myself.
The taxi rental was about the same as what I used to spend on taxis some days. I could not drive properly. Once, at an event, a woman decided to pay me with a clapped out Volkswagen. I learnt to drive on that because the woman told me to take it away and I started to practice by driving round the neighborhood. When I rented the taxi, I could not drive properly. The passengers gave me tips on how to drive since by that time I had a wife and we were planning to have a family. Sometimes, I would work in the taxi and watch the dawn or the sunset and I planned to make a photograph album for my future son or daughter. We found out that it would be a girl from the ultrasound and I went on taking photographs of landscapes and scenes I noticed during my work in the taxi. At about the same time, I had decided to tour the whole state, visiting the over 35 municipalities in Nuevo León and wanting to put together a photograph album for my baby. We were extremely happy and were looking forward to the next day. My daughter was born on November 24, but died the next day.
We never realized there was a problem until she was born. Everything finished in a single day. I no longer had any events to photography and began working as a full-time taxi driver and went on taking photos. I was attracted by people’s tragedies and problems and I took photographs by letting myself be carried away by my heart and mind every time I felt a sort of impulse or the energy to take a photograph. I have taken thousands of photographs in which I felt nothing, but there have been others in which I have felt an irrepressible desire to take them and preserve them.
As the years went by, I took part in photography competitions and enabled my daughter to transcend through my photographs. Nowadays I live in San Nicolás de los Garza and want to have my own taxi. What I enjoy in life is driving, taking pictures and having an ice-cold drink. I think I will spend the rest of my life appreciating the fact that I do what I like. My only frustration is not being able to have my own taxi in the state of Nuevo León, which is where I am from. I have no opportunity to have one, the authorities are not interested in supporting my project and being able to continue my work will depend on my personal efforts and the support of the people that like my work. I can visualize myself in the future, showing my photos to my two children, one aged 2 and the other aged 8 months and if I am lucky, to my grandchildren. And I would like to tell any Mexican who reads this that where there's a will, there's a way. All those that are famous or important now or transcended have undergone all kinds of limitations. Some will be ashamed and others will be proud to see the route they have taken.