Photojournalists 'can be the eyes of the people'

Ms Neo and Mr Lim have been with The Straits Times for about six years. The award-winning photographers, who are married to each other, chanced upon photojournalism as NTU communication studies students.
Ms Neo and Mr Lim have been with The Straits Times for about six years. The award-winning photographers, who are married to each other, chanced upon photojournalism as NTU communication studies students. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Prestigious photo exhibition to feature talks by ST photographers

Intern photographer Kevin Lim was in a cab on his way to a job in 2008 when he saw something that made him jump out of the taxi.

It was an accident scene: A lorry had veered off the road and struck a woman after she had shoved her toddler son and teenage daughter out of harm's way.

After checking that an ambulance had been called, Mr Lim started taking photos of the scene, including one of the motionless mother and her visibly shaken son.

The picture bagged Mr Lim, now a staff photojournalist at The Straits Times, a Singapore Press Holdings News Picture of the Month Award in 2008.

"More satisfyingly, the story garnered public interest and help poured in for the mother, who was fighting for her life in hospital," said Mr Lim.

The woman has since recovered and the incident sealed his decision to pursue photojournalism as a career.

Mr Lim will share his experiences in covering disasters tomorrow at The National Museum, as part of the World Press Photo exhibition, presented by The Straits Times, with Canon as worldwide sponsor.

The free exhibition, featuring 145 of the most compelling images from the 2015 edition of the prestigious World Press Photo contest, is on at the museum till next Sunday.

  • Tours and talks

    JAN 29 - FEB 21

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

    Address: 93, Stamford Road, Singapore 178897

    • Open daily, 10am-7pm

    • Free admission

    Guided tours

    • Every Saturday and Sunday, 11am and 2pm (Limited to 20 people for each session, registration on-site)

    Talks by ST photojournalists

    Admission is free but pre-registration is required

    Sunday, Feb 14


    • Behind The Scenes Of Disaster Reportage by Kevin Lim

    • Evolution Of Newspaper Photographers by Neo Xiaobin


    • Shooting Singapore by Desmond Lim

    • Sea, Air And Land by Alphonsus Chern

    To register and for more details, go to tags/st-world-press-photo

Mr Lim, 33, covered the 2010 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami, and Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, the Philippines, in 2013. He recently won an excellence award from the international Society For News Design for his arresting portrait of an elderly mother and her son, who was formerly the chief of a gang.

Mr Lim will be joined by his colleague and wife, Ms Neo Xiaobin, who will talk about the evolving role of newspaper photographers.

Ms Neo and Mr Lim, who both use Canon cameras, have been with the paper for about six years.

The couple, who have been married for a year, stumbled upon photojournalism as communication studies students at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

"I dabbled with photography as a tool for storytelling and was inspired by the works of John Stanmeyer and Marcus Bleasdale," said Mr Lim, who specialised in journalism for his undergraduate studies.

"Their works made me want to shoot like them and showed me that news pictures can also be aesthetically beautiful."

Likewise, Ms Neo, 32, found her calling at NTU after going on a reporting trip to Nepal, where she did stories about street children.

"I realised then how photojournalists can be the eyes of the people by bringing stories to them," she said. "I always feel that with knowledge comes awareness, and photography can be a powerful communication tool."

Ms Neo has won international awards for photos of a Chinese family who had to grapple with a daughter's death. The 24-year-old, who had moved to Singapore to work, was found dead in the pool of a Sentosa Cove bungalow in 2010.

In 2014, Ms Neo clinched the most coveted photography prize in Singapore - the Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu - for her portfolio.

The couple said the road ahead for the profession is going to be tougher as the onslaught of new media means that competition for readers' attention is stiffer than ever. "The challenge is juggling photography and videography on assignments because we have to cater for print and online; being fast and also accurate," Ms Neo said.

The increased workload can take a toll on their personal lives, but Mr Lim and Ms Neo said being in the same job means that they have a common understanding about the demands of the profession.

Said Mr Lim: "Although we see each other every day, there is still so much to learn from each other - both positive and negative. It is just like the photography we do - there is always something new to experience and to learn."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Photojournalists 'can be the eyes of the people''. Print Edition | Subscribe