We’re pleased to welcome Ryan Walls, CityCabs Taxi Driver/ Photographer and founder of Edinburgh People – ‘a photographic journey through the lens of an Edinburgh taxi driver.’ A published author, Ryan holds talks and exhibitions to share his story and help inspire others with their creative journeys. Through his photographs, Ryan tells the story of the many people who travel in the back of his Edinburgh black cab.
From a young age, Ryan was interested in getting to know the story behind the faces he saw fill Edinburgh’s bustling streets. “My high school was located on the edge of town and our school year starts in August, Festival time. Getting the bus to school took on a whole new meaning and I was fascinated even back then. Edinburgh’s always been on the tourist map but this was different – who were all these people? Where had they come from and why?”
Since becoming a taxi driver, Ryan was able to tap into his creative side and discovered new talents he didn’t know he had! “This was all new to me – I’d never given myself a chance for that side of the brain to work. I kept a notepad in my cab in order to start writing ideas down as they came to me. I decided to save all the £2 coins from my fares in a jar and when I had enough, like an excited schoolboy who’s just saved enough for his first Walkman I drove to the store, with my coins still in the jar, to buy a laptop. I loved writing during those ‘waiting’ periods in my taxi, and out of that time I’ve written a play and many short films based on various crazy characters in my head. It was a revelation that I could write and it gave me confidence to pursue my other creative dream, photography.”
Edinburgh People was created from Ryan’s love of photography and his genuine interest in the people he encounters. Ryan enjoys getting to know his passengers and initiates conversation as he takes passengers on a journey through Edinburgh’s streets: “My favourite conversation is always when people test me on my considerable and ever-expanding knowledge of our beautiful city of Edinburgh. And during Festival season, there are plenty of opportunities to share that knowledge…
Edinburgh is a superb city, rich in heritage, culture, history and all those things which give a place real depth of character. It’s attractive, diverse, vibrant, and it plays host to twelve major festivals over the course of the year, six of which overlap in the month of August. And that’s when the city propels itself on to the global stage and its population of nearly half a million people practically doubles overnight.”
“I remember clearly when I connected with a piece of art in a gallery for the first time and the experience has stayed with me. I must have been around 16, my friend’s mum took us down to London. One of our first visits was the ‘The National Gallery’, this was the first time I had entered a gallery. I never once thought this would be boring, I was intrigued to find out what all the fuss was about. I remember it bustling with people. Walking from room to room, some paintings I liked and some I walked straight pass. Then boom, I saw ‘The Umbrellas’, by Renior - this painting made me take a seat and look at the painting longer, thinking about the young girl in the painting. For me, it was not an everyday occurrence that a piece of art stopped me in my tracks; I felt a connection with this painting. Then it happened again with ‘Bathers at Asineres’ by Georges Seurat, I believe it’s still in Room 43 at the ‘The National Gallery’. Again, it grabbed my attention and it made a teenager whose head was full of Nike Air
Max and girls take a seat and think about the young lad in the painting - it made me have a think about what was going on in my own life too. This is what I love about art, the connection we make with it; it could be poetry, live music, graffiti, theatre, paintings, images or anything else. If we connect with it and it provokes feeling, we want more.”
“For me now, I have a new lease of life, I never been happier. I work loads of hours in the taxi, along with bringing up 4 kids – sure, I have my hands full, but having a creative output gives my life balance. I get a buzz from putting together a project, discussing ideas with friends, taking images on my camera, then editing my work at home. The buzz I got from putting my exhibition together, then receiving my self-published book blew my mind. I think my wife could even say I’ve been a lot happier.
I may never be the greatest writer or photographer, but that’s fine by me, I just want to keep doing things that make me happy. Even now, I know my writing isn’t the best, but it doesn’t stop me. This is why I want my blog to be a platform for others to share their ideas and work. A platform to gain confidence and praise, ideas and motivation to complete that project that’s been sitting on your desk or computer. Or that book or project you’ve being talking about for years but never got around to doing it. We are never too late to start a hobby, I purchased my first camera at 39 and I’m now 42.”
“Every passenger I pick up is going somewhere; we’re all on a journey through life. I’m no different to you, we’re all on a journey to somewhere, we all have stories, but not everyone has the outlet to share them. I created my own outlet, with the help of my friends, family and, of course, you the passenger. That was my journey, the following are snapshots of some of my customers’ journeys – now, what’s yours?”
For ‘Edinburgh People’ content and information regarding Ryan’s upcoming exhibitions and talks, please visit one of the following channels:
Facebook: Edinburgh People