A traffic light turning red is reflected in droplets of water. This year has not been smooth for me. Seven months ago, an accident on my way to an assignment in Sentosa changed my life . Travelling along Keppel Viaduct, I was thrown from my seat when the driver had to jam on the brakes to avoid a multiple-vehicle collision after a vehicle broke down and stopped in the leftmost lane. I was not wearing a seat belt. The impact of the accident affected my nerves, resulting in hypersensitivity and shooting pains in my hands. I was not able to do the simplest things - like putting my clothes on and washing my hair - without pain. I could not even pick up my camera. It took months to heal and I learnt not to take road safety for granted. The first thing I do now when I enter a vehicle is buckle my seat belt.
The year has been a reminder to me that good health is a blessing. Three weeks ago, my cousin Bernadette Sim, 49, underwent a cranioplasty - a procedure that closes the hole in her skull with an artificial piece - to rebuild part of her skull and to restore both its contour and a chance to "feel whole again" (left, top). She had a craniotomy during brain surgery in 2011 due to bleeding in the brain. A piece of her skull was sawn off (bottom). During this time, Bernadette suffered several personal setbacks, including a divorce, but she remains hopeful about life. Empowered by her religion, Bernadette, a Catholic, has chosen to stay positive. She says: "I feel energised and eager to achieve things. I feel like a new person. My faith told me this was an important part of my healing and the procedure would be successful. I am very positive about the next few years of my life. My religion has helped me to come this far and, having lived through this, I believe I have a lot more to do and offer as part of God's plan. I'm eager to go back to work and help the disabled and the older workers as I know what they face, having lived it."
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline Reflecting on 2016: Pictures that define the year for ST photographers. Subscribe