When you think of London one of the main things that springs to mind are the iconic black cabs driving people from place to place. But with the rise in apps such as Uber – is the reign of black cabs on the verge of extinction?

This is something that Oleg Tolstoy explores in his photographs which are currently on display at Carousel . Running across the two walls, all of the images merge together as one and compare and contrast between black cabs and Uber in a balanced and documentary like way.

All of the photographs have been well framed and perfectly capture the range of emotions that are clear on the drivers faces but it has to be said that it feels more like a taster rather than conveying a proper message.

1-4 However, the more that you look at the photographs as a whole, you do begin to get a sense of the similarities between each apparently different image. For example, you really begin to get a sense of the loneliness and isolation of the job that these drivers experience – no matter if they are driving a black cab or are a pre-booked taxi.

All of the pictures seem to question as to whether black cabs are willing to adapt with the times and technology advances such as contactless payment and the use of apps such as Uber or are they just happy to continue as they are?

It should also be said that although the images are focused primarily on the black cab vs. Uber debate, there is still a hint of the artist’s portrait experience and the way in which he captures people’s personalities. The photographs look very natural and are understated.

Explaining the reasons why he wanted to do this project Oleg Tolstoy said: “In my job as a photographer I use Uber cars, black cabs and mini cabs to travel between shoots. During these journeys I noticed an underlying weight in the air as a result of current conflicts between app and black cab, card and cash. Noticing this mood, in an idle moment between jobs, I began taking a series of photos of cabbies lost in their thoughts. These haunting portraits are ones most passengers and Londoners are usually unaware of, as they ride in the seat behind.”


It is a fascinating idea to use something that is causing debate so recently but when looking back at them in a few years time will they still have the same impact? Perhaps not but it does pay a nice tribute to black cabs and the importance of them in London.

Who’s Driving You? by Oleg Tolstoy is on display at Carousel from the 7th to the 26th September.  To see the exhibition you must book an appointment and is open daily from 10.30am to 8pm Monday to Saturday. 


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