Straits Times photojournalist Neo Xiaobin has won Singapore's most coveted photography award, the Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu 2014. The 30-year-old, who has worked at The Straits Times since 2010, beat six other contenders to claim the $30,000 that comes with the award. It was established five years ago by Martell Cordon Bleu cognac to honour the best in Singapore photography.
Neo was chosen from among seven shortlisted photographers by a five-member jury, led by independent French curator of photography Agnes de Gouvion Saint-Cyr. The judging was done based on portfolios submitted to the jury, and the award was given based on a body of work.
"She has a gift for explaining the context of her subject and she develops her narration in well-composed and subtle images, whether in black and white, or in colour, thus conveying strong emotions and empathy. To summarise her work, we can say that she has the gift of a photojournalist working with the vocabulary of an artist," said Madam de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, 69.
Neo's submission to the competition included the series Shattered Dreams, 9/11: Ten Years On, Lights And Moments, Last Outfits, Malaysia Decides and Singapore Seconds.
Here are some of her works:
This is the story of the death of karaoke lounge hostess Li Hong Yan who was found naked and dead in a Sentosa Cove bungalow pool in March 2010. Neo followed Li's family back to their home town in Heilongjiang, China, where they grieved and laid to rest their daughter who had come to Singapore to seek a better life.
9/11: Ten Years On
This is a feature on people who were affected by the catastrophe of 9/11, ten years after.
Lights And Moments
These are a sample of the work Neo has produced from her daily assignments, ranging from her coverage of the missing MH370, the Hougang by-election among others.
This is a collection of portraits of people wearing the clothes they want to be sent-off in, after death.
This is from ST's coverage of the Malaysia Elections in 2013.
48 Singaporean Seconds
This is a collection of portraits shot for videos - each 48 seconds long - featuring 25 Singaporeans from all walks of life telling their story, their hopes and dreams for themselves and for Singapore. This series was produced to celebrate Singapore's 48th Birthday in 2013.