Shooting stories: Photojournalists share their work and experiences at World Press Photo exhibition

This photo of F-16C Fighting Falcons of the Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knights by ST photojournalist Alphonsus Chern, taken last year, will be on display at the World Press Photo exhibition.
This photo of F-16C Fighting Falcons of the Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knights by ST photojournalist Alphonsus Chern, taken last year, will be on display at the World Press Photo exhibition.ST FILE PHOTO

At a time when China stories were fuelled with dizzying narratives about its rapid economic growth, documentary photographer Sim Chi Yin took the road less travelled.

The 37-year-old's work took her across the Chinese countryside - where she photographed gold miners fighting silicosis, a disease caused by inhaling silica dust produced by the blasting of rocks in mines - and to the basements of Beijing's buildings, where close to a million migrant workers live in illegal underground dwellings.

"I wanted to explore a different side of the story, chronicling the experiences of people on the margins," said Ms Sim, a former China correspondent for The Straits Times who is now a photographer with the prestigious New York-based photo agency VII.

She will share her experiences of documenting Chinese society on Jan 30 as part of a series of talks and panel discussions at the World Press Photo exhibition, which kicks off on Jan 29 and runs till Feb 21.

The exhibition will feature 145 winning photos from the 2015 World Press Photo contest. The awards, which started in 1955, are regarded as the highest accolade in photojournalism. Among the contest winners are Bangladeshi documentary photographer Sarker Protick and American photographer and researcher Pete Muller, whom Ms Sim hails as "among the most innovative and thoughtful photographers" of her generation. They will discuss the ethics of photography in a digital age at a panel discussion on Jan 29.

Mr Protick, 30, will also hold a talk on how to approach self-funded, long-term visual storytelling projects. His project, What Remains, an intimate series of portraits featuring his ageing grandparents, won second prize in the daily life category at the World Press Photo contest.

  • EXHIBITION DETAILS

  • JAN 29 - FEB 21

    National Museum of Singapore, The Concourse (Level 1) and The Canyon (Basement 1)

    Open daily, 10am - 7pm

    Free admission

    PANEL DISCUSSION AND TALKS

    Admission is free, but pre-registration is required.

    PANEL DISCUSSION

    FRIDAY, JAN 29, 7PM

    TOPIC: Photojournalism: new era, new forms, new ethics?

    PANELLISTS: Sim Chi Yin, Sarker Protick, Pete Muller.

    Moderated by Desmond Lim

    TALKS

    SATURDAY, JAN 30, 10AM

    TOPIC: Ground Up: Telling stories from the grassroots by Sim Chi Yin

    SATURDAY, JAN 30, 12PM

    TOPIC: Men, Masculinity and Violence by Pete Muller

    SATURDAY, JAN 30, 2PM

    TOPIC: Approach & Engagement by Sarker Protick

    SATURDAY, FEB 6, 11AM

    TOPIC: Shooting Singapore by Desmond Lim

    TOPIC: Sea, Air, and Land by Alphonsus Chern

    SUNDAY, FEB 14, 11AM

    TOPIC: Behind the scenes of disaster reportage by Kevin Lim

    TOPIC: Evolution of newspaper photographers by Neo Xiaobin

    Register at www.straitstimes.com/tags/st-world-press-photo

There were challenges in the process of carrying out the work, including the death of his grandmother a year after the project started.

"After her departure, my grandpa had a different state of being completely alone," he said. "Sometimes that emotional process gets difficult... Doing the work was something that helped us to be closer."

Mr Muller, who has explored gender-based violence in Congo in his work, will examine the relationship between traditional notions of masculinity and violence in his talk.

Sponsors for the speakers are political foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, Newsplex Asia, Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Press Club. Other local sponsors include The South Beach hotel, logistics company Famous Air & Sea Services and caterer Purple Sage.

The exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, the official venue supporter, is being presented by The Straits Times (ST) for the second year running. There will also be an ST exhibition in conjunction with the World Press Photo show, featuring at least 12 of last year's best photojournalistic work.

ST photojournalists Desmond Lim, Alphonsus Chern, Kevin Lim and Neo Xiaobin will share their experiences in talks on Feb 6 and Feb 14, touching on topics such as the process of documenting local communities, the challenges of photographing Singapore's military elite, disaster reporting and the evolution of newspaper photography with the emergence of online platforms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'Shooting stories'. Print Edition | Subscribe