80-year-old wins first prize at photo contest

The winning photo entries of Aunty Mani and Mr Gowreesan on display at the atrium of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, along with 14 other entries from Ren Ci Nursing Home residents. The photos are part of the 1 Lens, 2 Photos, 3 Words exhibition launched yest
The winning photo entries of Aunty Mani and Mr Gowreesan on display at the atrium of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, along with 14 other entries from Ren Ci Nursing Home residents. The photos are part of the 1 Lens, 2 Photos, 3 Words exhibition launched yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Just over a month ago, 80-year-old Madam Vengadasalam Maniammal, affectionately known as Aunty Mani, had never used a camera phone. Now she is a prize-winning photographer.

The Ren Ci Nursing Home resident entered a competition organised by the hospital of the same name in which residents were paired with members of the instaSG photography group who taught them how to shoot portraits.

Both had to take pictures of each other, which were then spliced together to form a joint portrait accompanied by a three-word caption by the resident and a paragraph by the instaSG photographer.

Aunty Mani's mentor was 25-year-old Republic Polytechnic student Pulendrarajah Gowreesan - and the pair proved to be a winning combination.

Their entry shows a close-up of her smiling and him at a tilted angle, along with the words "Happy. Nice. Close." It won first prize and each of them took home $120 worth of shopping vouchers.

The photo is now on display in the atrium of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, along with 14 other works by Ren Ci residents who took part in the "1 Lens, 2 Photos, 3 Words" exhibition launched yesterday.

"It was the first time I have taken a picture with a camera phone and I am happy with it," said Aunty Mani.

Mr Gowreesan said the competition was a "wonderful opportunity" and Aunty Mani proved an ideal partner. "It took me only three shots to get the perfect smile from her for the portrait," he said.

The contest began in May and entrants were judged by a panel from instaSG and the hospital based on the emotion captured in the portraits.It was the first time Ren Ci held such a contest and its chief executive, Ms Low Shu Ching, described it as "heartening", saying she hopes it can be held again.

"We want to show that residents of nursing homes have aspirations and interests... They want to learn skills, pick up hobbies, just like any other person."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline '80-year-old wins first prize at photo contest'. Print Edition | Subscribe