Life Behind the Lens

Life Behind the Lens


Interviews with the 12th SAFRA Photographer of the Year winners

A great photo evokes strong emotions and gives you a sense of connection to the subject matter, providing a powerful narration to the story from the photographer’s perspective.

In celebration of the nation’s 50th birthday, the themes for SAFRA’s Photographer of the Year (PTY) competition for 2015 are close to the heart of every Singaporean: Home, Celebrate, Makan, Heritage, Progress, Diversities, Culture, Hopes and Dreams. Mr Koh Meng Hua, emerged champion for the 12th edition of the competition this year with a photo series that weaves dynamism and colourful vibrancy into Singapore’s multi-racial fabric, tackling the theme of Heritage, Home, Celebration and Culture with energy and fervour.

We’re fortunate to engage the reigning champ, three merit and consolation winners for a short Q&A session to tell us a little about the inspirations behind their winning photographs and give a few tips for aspiring photographers.


'Heritage' and 'Home'

Mr Koh Meng Hua, Champion of the 12th SAFRA Photographer of the Year.


1. Tell us about your photo series.

The 12th SAFRA PTY is the most challenging as this is the first time SAFRA PTY introduced an overall theme relating to SG50 on top of the 8 given themes. I chose to present the multiracial aspect of Singapore, which to me is ‘Uniquely Singapore’. This was a challenge because I had to select 4 images based on the 8 given themes to show Singapore’s multiracial society and common living environment.

I have selected these four subjects which depict the themes succinctly - Sepak Takraw, a Malay Heritage sport (Heritage); HDB flats, which for about 75% of Singaporeans call home (Home); Sri Mariamman Temple, an image that illustrates devotees celebrating in worship in the main temple hall adorned with a beautiful fresco ceiling (Celebrate); and Lion Dance, which connotes part of Chinese culture (Culture).


2. Where did you go to take these photographs? Why did you choose these locations?

The image of the Sepak Takraw was taken at a community sports hall in Bedok that organised the Sepak Takraw competition. Sports is one of the many genres that I enjoy photographing.

As for the picture of the elevated HDB flats, it was taken at the crack of dawn at Singapore’s Second Oldest Housing estate in Toa Payoh. I chose this location to show how Singaporeans typically live. With BTO flats and classic old style HDB blocks juxtaposed in the frame, it also shows progress in Singapore’s living environment.

The Sri Mariamman Temple image was taken at Singapore’s Oldest Hindu Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple to share the beauty of the temple’s architecture and vibrant interior fresco.

Lastly, the image of the lion dancer was taken at one of the annual Lion Dance competition along Orchard Road to show one aspect of Chinese culture in Singapore.


'Celebrate' and 'Culture'


3. Which photo in your series was your favourite?

My favourite photo is the Lion Dance photo because it was technically more challenging to photograph. Lion dance is easy to photograph but to photograph it artistically is another challenge altogether.


4. Finally, could you give one piece of advice to our readers and other aspiring photographers?

For aspiring photographers, they should join any established photo clubs in Singapore to get a good grounding in photography. In my case, I joined SAFRA Photo Club and met photo mentors and friends who helped improve my photography.


'Culture' and 'Home'

Mr Bernard Poh Lye Kiat, Merit Winner of 12th SAFRA Photographer of the Year


1. Tell us about your photo series.

My photo series is about home, diversity, culture and dreams.


2. Where did you go to take these photographs?

The photographs were taken in Singapore at my workplace and studio. I choose these locations because it shows the contrast of the old and new buildings changes through Singapore growth.


'Dreams' and 'Diversity'

3. Which photo in your series was your favourite?

The one with the bubbles surrounded the little girl is my favourite in the photo series. It was taken in my studio. The little girl look so natural and it matches the theme requirement.


4. Finally, could you give one piece of advice to our readers and other aspiring photographers?

All potential contestants should strive to put in their hard efforts to achieve results.


'Heritage'

Madam Chua Tiew Eng, Merit Winner of 12th SAFRA Photographer of the Year


1. Tell us about your photo series.

The pictures were all snapped in Singapore. The Sultan Mosque and tall trees at Marina Bay Gardens are our iconic attractions. Singaporean commonly celebrates National Day by penning wishes and Chinese opera is well liked in our diverse cultures.


2. Where did you go to take these photographs?

The pictures were taken at Kampung Glam, Tampines, Kovan and Gardens by the Bay respectively. They represent our diverse attractions in Singapore.


'Hopes'

3. Which photo in your series was your favourite?

The penning of wishes on National Day is my favourite. It reflects passion and patriotism.


4. Finally, could you give one piece of advice to our readers and other aspiring photographers?

Photography is enjoyable, especially when your work is appreciated and recognised by others.


'Home'

Mr Daniel Yeo, Consolation Winner of 12th SAFRA Photographer of the Year


1. Tell us about your photo series.

This photo series is taken from Chingay and NDP 2014. It showed how our people have been participating in these events, which depicts passion and engagement.


2. Why did you choose these locations?

I wanted to be part of these events and capture our Singaporean spirit as we are part of these events that represent our national culture.


'Diversity'

3. Which photo in your series was your favourite?

My favourite is the ballet dancer. It was a dramatic scene with the dancers in white basking in spotlight, and here is this dancer whom you can see passion in her eyes.


4. Finally, could you give one piece of advice to our readers and other aspiring photographers?

Go out and take more pictures. Practise makes perfect. Ask yourself why you click the shutter, does it trigger any emotions? What does this picture mean to you? What do you want to represent?


Check out the winners’ complete photo series here.


Are you a photography enthusiast? Be a member of SAFRA’s Photography Club today!


Time to unite as one nation and celebrate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee Year – SG50! Check out the fantastic line-up of events and promotions just for SAFRA card members at our SG50 That’s So Singaporean page!


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