Photographer captures life in Singapore in the 5 seconds before MRT train doors close

SINGAPORE - Taking the MRT train is a daily routine for many people here, but in the five seconds before the train doors close, photographer Edwin Koo managed to capture moments that show an interesting side of the otherwise faceless crowd.

Frowning at the thought of the long day ahead, yawning the Monday blues away or flashing a curious smile at the photographer, the commuters wore different expressions, and each appeared to tell a different story.

Mr Koo, 36, shared these photos on his Facebook page to showcase the slice of life he managed to capture.

The album, "People of Transit", has received almost 2,000 likes and has been shared more than 1,700 times in less than a week since April 1.

Mr Koo told The Straits Times that he started taking such photos in 2011, when he had just returned to Singapore after living and working in Nepal for two years.

He was angry that the trains were so crowded then that there was no space for him, but accepted the situation. "I took the photos as a sign of protest, as a sign of alienation. I was angry as a citizen," he said.

When he got over his frustration, he thought it was a unique way to capture the Singapore society in a different light.

On April 7, he will publish 23 of the photos in a book. He took these pictures over a period of four months till February this year. His book is among a series of 20 photo books that are being published through a private initiative, in the lead-up to SG50, to mark Singapore's Golden Jubilee, and more information can be found on

He hopes that the people in the photos will get in touch with him. "I am trying to reach them because I never knew what they were thinking and feeling, and I want to know," he said. By April 6, 12 people had contacted him.

When asked about his favourite picture, Mr Koo singled out a photo which showed a young man standing in the middle, holding his phone facing out, as if he was trying to take a photo of the photographer. The other commuters were all looking at him.

Mr Koo said: "He looks like he is existing in his own lonely world, even though there are so many people around him. He is holding up the phone, which is almost iconic of how people in the MRT look now."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.