Aggrieved and listless faces stare defiantly at the camera in photographer Matthew Joseph’s latest series, examining the impact that Uber has had on local taxi drivers and their businesses across New York, Paris, Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and Rome.
A revolution in technology it may be, but at what cost? This a question that Joseph’s work begins to answer, discontent sketched into every crevice of a driver’s face as each photographic portrait sits alongside a quote. "Ubers are like cockroaches," one proclaims, a bitter and poignant statement that all too aptly describes the reality of Uber’s stranglehold over the world’s traditional taxi system.
As a photographer, Joseph has a passion for people and the journeys that they take, including all of the stories they carry with them. With the arrival of Uber in London and the vast impact that the company continues to have in the capital, Joseph was driven by a desire to explore beyond the clickbait headlines and meet those whose lives had been impacted by Uber first-hand.
Talking with and photographing taxi drivers across six significant cities, from New York to Cape Town, The Uber Impact brings to light questions around how developments in this multinational corporation filter down and cause significant issues for those who have worked as taxi drivers for generations. Should we give greater consideration to the lives of those affected, or should we embrace this technological change?
"Many of the subjects have paid a high price for their trade, training for years to become experts of each route and side street and often laying down large sums of money for the medallion or insignia that registers them for trade," explains Joseph.
"From a consumer standpoint, the rise of Uber seems largely superlative, a case study of supply and demand. Feeling tired? Order an Uber. Visiting a friend? Take an Uber. It’s a mantra that seems whispered on the winds of change, but it is a wind that has whipped into a frenzied tornado of frustration and loss for these drivers, whose source of income has been irrevocably damaged.
"As with all evolution, one could argue that fortune favours the strong, but here we see a strength sapped from the lifeblood of a proud people, those who have existed for generations on providing a fundamental service to those in need of getting from point a to point b. The influence that Uber has had on the taxi cab industry is written on every face in Joseph’s profound photographic portraiture series, exploring the true impact of the controversial conglomerate giant and questioning the cost of technological revolution."
London-based Matthew Joseph is an award-winning photographer whose commercial work sees him shooting across the advertising, editorial and corporate industries for brands, creative agencies and publications. Find out more at matthewjoseph.co.uk.