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The man behind Ubergrapher

Life is a little like driving; the most pleasant routes come in the form of routes you didn’t plan for.

The Ubergrapher project began with a modest collection of picturesque Singapore as I zipped about the island doing my work. Snapping portraits of my passengers wasn’t part of the plan but it certainly headed that way.

My love affair with photography started when I was a young boy at Pei Hwa Primary. Back in the day, black and white film was the staple of our art. Armed with a modest camera, I would make pictures of my classmates, a real treat if you consider the cost of film and processing. Whilst I was busy capturing light on camera, the camera captured my heart.

At National Junior College later, I worked as the Official Photographer for the school magazine. Classmates and teachers remember me more as “the photographer” rather than a mere student. I’ll be frank and admit I didn’t get much studying done. I took a great deal of pictures; people sleeping in lecture theatres, the school’s resident dog - anything. Film in hand, I would rush home to my private darkroom (actually just my bedroom), eager to get the negatives “washed”.

The love affair with my camera hasn’t ended. From processing images in my bedroom, I have now taken the action to my car. Taking pictures and showing them to my passengers. I use a Canon 1D and it has served me well and faithful. It doubles up as an effective social lubricant to get my customers chatting. When you drive into the wee hours of dawn, you need a lot of conversation to keep eyelids from shutting.

Off the road when I’m not driving, I keep my life very busy. In the past four years, I was busy building Propstar, a property listing app. Similar to Uber, it strives to connect end-users directly to the service provider. I envision a day where consumers will transact directly, away from the grasp of middlemen. Living in an age where technology can be applied to lower costs and improve productivity gives me great excitement to be a part of this action. 

Uber is a prime example of how it has completely altered travelling patterns and solve supply problems that administrators were unable to. Commuters now have the luxury of choice, literally at their fingertips. Technology now gives hope to car ownership; a dream that was once out of reach for many Singaporeans. By providing a service drivers can now lighten the heavy financial burden on their wallets. This is one of the reasons why I am happy to drive with Uber - I can study and analyse their business model and apply the knowledge to my own business.

The authorities are wise not to over-regulate the private hire vehicle industry. If they did, the Ubergrapher would not exist and neither would this book. 

So, thank you. Thank you for picking up this book and don’t be shy to say “Hi” if our paths ever cross! I would be keen to hear more about your story and...who knows? You might appear on Ubergrapher too! 

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