Pioneers of Singapore Photography: Grand Old Man of Photography


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Hacker

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Amazingly, I found out last Saturday that my ancestors were the pioneers of photography in Singapore. Their works are the single biggest collection in the Singapore National Archives (http://snb.nl.sg/itemdetail.aspx?bid=7259582). The whole bunch of relatives can be traced back to the 13th century and they were the 21st generation (I'm 23rd) and if anyone has any information of Eastern Studio or Lee Brothers Studio (7 studios in all), please share with me. I would be interested to know.

 

gommy

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#2
No wonder you such a fanatic:) Maybe my ancestors were too:D


Amazingly, I found out last Saturday that my ancestors were the pioneers of photography in Singapore. Their works are the single biggest collection in the Singapore National Archives (http://snb.nl.sg/itemdetail.aspx?bid=7259582). The whole bunch of relatives can be traced back to the 13th century and they were the 21st generation (I'm 23rd) and if anyone has any information of Eastern Studio or Lee Brothers Studio (7 studios in all), please share with me. I would be interested to know.

 

Dream Merchant

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How were you connected...on which side, if i could ask? The Lee clan extended far and wide from what I gather...
 

Hacker

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How were you connected...on which side, if i could ask? The Lee clan extended far and wide from what I gather...
I'm a Lee (most probably a direct descendent of Lee King Yan or Lee Poh Yan). Still figuring out the maze of family lines as Dr Lee Ying Keng was the one who kept the records up to 20 generations before he passed on in 1992 at the age of 103. He was the oldest graudate of King Edward College VII.

It all started with the death of my grandmother recently and one of my uncles revealed that he has kept the records to the 24th generation (up to my kid) and as he is very old, he is hoping that someone continues with the records (and photography).

The extent of the pioneering spirit of my ancestors are wide: Keng Chun Studio in Bangkok, Bee Wah Studio in KL, Yung Cheong in Ipoh, etc to Java, Bandung, and The Dutch India Chinese Photographers Union in Batavia.

Records show that the Lee Brothers Photographers were the choice of a Who's Who list: Dr Lim Boon Kheng, Dr Hu Tsai Kuan, families of Tan Kim Seng and Tan Kah Kee, Dr Sun Yat Sun, etc.
 

Hacker

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The Uncle and the event (September 2007) which started this thread:

 

Hacker

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Maybe my ancestors were too:D
Most probably you were connected to the merchants, seeing the equipment that you have and the "Dr Leica" nickname that have stucked on you. :bigeyes: Cathay Photo's long lost relative?
 

Dream Merchant

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I'm a Lee (most probably a direct descendent of Lee King Yan or Lee Poh Yan). Still figuring out the maze of family lines as Dr Lee Ying Keng was the one who kept the records up to 20 generations before he passed on in 1992 at the age of 103. He was the oldest graudate of King Edward College VII.

It all started with the death of my grandmother recently and one of my uncles revealed that he has kept the records to the 24th generation (up to my kid) and as he is very old, he is hoping that someone continues with the records (and photography).

The extent of the pioneering spirit of my ancestors are wide: Keng Chun Studio in Bangkok, Bee Wah Studio in KL, Yung Cheong in Ipoh, etc to Java, Bandung, and The Dutch India Chinese Photographers Union in Batavia.

Records show that the Lee Brothers Photographers were the choice of a Who's Who list: Dr Lim Boon Kheng, Dr Hu Tsai Kuan, families of Tan Kim Seng and Tan Kah Kee, Dr Sun Yat Sun, etc.

Thanks for sharing that Hacker. It sounds fascinating! And to be able to track the roots or lineage must have brought a sense of revelation and wonderment. I'm not one for details, but I heard that there may be some fairly direct links/descendents still around.

Will you be taking over the records from your grandfather? It sounds like an honourable task to bear.
 

Hacker

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Thanks for sharing that Hacker. It sounds fascinating! And to be able to track the roots or lineage must have brought a sense of revelation and wonderment. I'm not one for details, familiar, but I heard that there may be some fairly direct links/descendents still around.

Will you be taking over the records from your grandfather? It sounds like an honourable task to bear.
Trust it to my ancestors to be detailed. The earliest that can be traced was a Lee Shun Tsai who founded the Little Yellow Earth Village presently known as Nam I Loi, a district of Foshan, famous for Wong Fei Hung and the teacher of Bruce Lee ;p.

If I took over? I will just do what many watchmakers are doing. Set up a studio, market the history, get some non-Lee to take the photos and earn big bucks selling the lineage. :bigeyes:
 

Dream Merchant

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Trust it to my ancestors to be detailed. The earliest that can be traced was a Lee Shun Tsai who founded the Little Yellow Earth Village presently known as Nam I Loi, a district of Foshan, famous for Wong Fei Hung and the teacher of Bruce Lee ;p.

If I took over? I will just do what many watchmakers are doing. Set up a studio, market the history, get some non-Lee to take the photos and earn big bucks selling the lineage. :bigeyes:
Sounds like a plan to me! :bsmilie:
 

Keltzar

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#11
guy,
you obviously read everything from that book. :) Take note Gretchen may have made some errors.

I am a descendent of Lee Shui Loon, from the Yong Fong branch. I have been collecting the commercial work of the clan for a few years now. Your branch of the clan resided mostly in the serangoon area I think.

My father and my uncles used to play with their cousins from your branch. That would make us second or third cousins.

Drop me a PM and we can take it from there.
 

sbs99

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Wah congratulations to everyone who found their lineage. :)
 

Keltzar

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There are 1-2 more people in clubsnap that are related. I had asked a similar question more than a year ago.
http://clubsnap.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-182474.html
I have since understood that for many people, there is no interest in the past or the connections... :)
In any case, that's fine by me ... helps to keep the prices of the antique photos and books I buy down ... ;)
 

theRBK

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was at the National History Museum photography exhibit just now and saw many images from Lee Brothers Studio... :)
 

Hacker

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Unbelievable indeed. I will try to contact my uncle and get some more information, maybe lead him to this thread.
 

Keltzar

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haha... right after I read your post, one of my regular sources called. He's just come into 3 pieces of old work and I'm going down later today to view them. It will cost me a small fortune :( ... but while money can be earned back, heritage once lost is irretrievable.
 

Keltzar

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I re-read Gretchen's book after your post yesterday. With 2-3 years of hindsight now, I find it much easier to follow... so I can probably understand how you feel that it was a confused maze. A lot of things are also clearer to me now. There is also a lot of information in the footnotes at the back which help to shed more light.

(BTW, like you ... I inherited a geneaology book... and some years ago my aunt translated our branch into english)
 

Hacker

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I re-read Gretchen's book after your post yesterday. With 2-3 years of hindsight now, I find it much easier to follow... so I can probably understand how you feel that it was a confused maze. A lot of things are also clearer to me now. There is also a lot of information in the footnotes at the back which help to shed more light.

(BTW, like you ... I inherited a geneaology book... and some years ago my aunt translated our branch into english)
You are right, some relationships are not too clear. I've sent some info you and Dream Merchant have given to my uncle, and have given him this link.
 

Keltzar

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#20
Based on Gretchen's book, the Lee Brother's studio would have been in two locations. From the mid-1930s, it would have been on Hill Street approximately the physical location between Cathay Photo at Peninsula and the Grand Plaza hotel is today :)
 

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