Photographing Singapore

Beside visiting my dad in hospital, spending time with family and catching up with friends, the most exciting part of my trip has to be photography. Since I graduated from Melbourne Polytechnic and started practising street photography, I haven’t actually photographs outside of Australia. Going back to my birth country and photographing the street became a big question mark. How would I photograph a place where I was once familiar with? My observation and reaction skill picked up while photographing the streets of Melbourne, is it going to be the same in Singapore? The building, the wall, the people, the light, will I be able to come out with good photographs? These are the questions I have been asking myself before the trip. As I’m not interested in those iconic images, so be prepared to see the Singapore you don’t usually sees on travel brochures.

In the first few days, I was mainly adapting to the new environment, keeping a distance from my subject(s), slowly moving closer. The first place I photographed was actually Yishun, a housing estate in the north of Singapore. My dad was admitted into a hospital in that area, so I actually walked from the train station to the hospital, a 15 minutes walk. Unlike photographing in Melbourne, I didn’t have much time to actually wait for something to happen or someone to appear. And I can’t come back for better light, that is the disadvantage when you travel to photograph. 

There were time when it was awkward, as people are not used to being photographed in public space, thanks to STOMP, a public shaming website. People are generally very defensive when they saw a camera pointing at them, to a point that they would stare at you until they walk out of frame. My confidence level was set back due to those reaction. So out came my trusted iPhone, I manage to blend into the crowd again and started doing my old stuff. I started posting these iPhone photos on my Instagram, until I received an email from LG Australia reminding me that I’m a LG G5 Influencer for a month. Not really an issue for me, if I can do it with an iPhone, I can do it with any phone or camera. 

On most occasion, I have to put on my panama hat and look like a tourist in my country. That is still probably the best tactic to use when photographing in crowded places like Orchard Road and Chinatown. Being a tourist allow me to be up close to people, as if I’m snapping happily as I go. People let down their guard when they assume you are a tourist. There were also time when I started a conversation with my subject, unknowingly to them, I was snapping away during the whole conversation. I just love silent shutter and the advantage of the languages I can speak.

As usual, I was taking the opportunity to document the space, Singapore is one of the fastest developing country in the region, buildings get torn down and new one built within a few years. Many mature estates have been left behind when the government try to build up new estates for the younger generation. Probably in another few years time, these mature estates will be torn down to make way for the new generation. 

So to conclude, I spent the 14 days walking approximately 145km on foot, took 3745 photos on my Sony a7s, countless images on my iPhone 6s and LG G5. Some said the style remain the same, but I did realise in some occasion, I photographed differently. I will let you decide if there is a different, when I slowly publish those photos from my trip.  

PS: There was no confrontation or whatsoever while photographing on the street, either they didn’t realise or can’t be bother. After practising street photography for 2.5 years, your body language does help in some way to show your confidence level.

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