What Photography Taught Me


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leonzhu

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May 12, 2003
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thegeekphoto.com
#1
On a whim, i decided today to go to Seletar Market to do the long overdue photo story i've wanted to do since last year, before SARS. The whole estate will be demolished in September '04, to make way for new development.

Already, 90% of the tenants have moved out, and most shops have closed down, or moved away. This leaves the entire area in a semi-desolate state. In certain areas, it's business as usual, and just 20 paces away, it can look like a ghost town.

My partner and I walked around the small neighborhood, cameras in hand, shooting whatever was interesting. She brought up a very thought-provoking point, saying "What are we photographing?"

My answer was, simply, "The sadness and desolation of this place."

Exactly, we were there to document the sadness, because there was nothing joyful left to capture.

However, a short time later, all this would be changed.

From a distance away, i spotted a group of silver-haired gentlemen sharing a conversation over bottles of Heineken. I tried to discreetly 'snipe' a photo, but was spotted, and waved over. Upon reaching them, i promptly introduced myself as a freelance photographer, and my friend as a student. Our request for photo opportunities was met with an invitation to join them for a drink, and one of the gentlemen insisted on buying us food and drink. Chatting with them, we reveled in the pecular friendship shared by these four men: two Hokkien, one Teochew, and one of Malay-Javanese descent.

These men shared with me their 20 years of friendship, forged by working together in the market. One sold drinks, another chicken, yet another fish. The javanese-malay was the foreman of the market, overlooking all the cleaning staff. Over the last 20 years they all spent working in the market, a magnificent cross cultural friendship was forged. To me, the friendship was all that was Singaporean. Multi-racial, and harmonious. Bridging cultural and language barriers. Their willingness to buy us students food and drink showed the 'kampong spirit' that's all but gone in this cosmopolitan Singapore.

After a prolonged conversation, we left the gentlemen, promising to return with prints to show. Somehow, I learnt more about myself today than I expected i would. These four friends showed me that, while expecting sadness in the imminent loss of livelihoods, they can find much joy in each other's company. I came to document sadness, but ended up learning what hope means.

See the full gallery at http://leonzhu.fotopic.net/c125841.html
 

sehsuan

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Dec 12, 2002
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#5
i was highlighting the good thing that photography got you into, the good relation with people you wouldn't know or probably talk to otherwise. :)
 

leonzhu

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#6
sehsuan said:
i was highlighting the good thing that photography got you into, the good relation with people you wouldn't know or probably talk to otherwise. :)
yup, it's a good thing! :D doesn't matter if the photos are lousy, the memory will be with me forever!
 

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