SINGAPORE - Hobbyist photographer Yong Jia Ping was exploring the Chinatown area some time last month when she chanced upon a group of elderly men in serious thought over a game of Chinese chess.
The 34-year-old, who works for an engineering company, was captivated by what she saw and was surprised to see the group there when she returned over the next few days.
"To me, it told a story about Singapore, and about home. In the past, these elderly folk worked hard to build the country, but now they are able to slow down and enjoy the moment doing the things they like," she said.
Her black-and-white photo of the scene won her $200 in Takashimaya vouchers as part of The Straits Times' latest Instagram photography contest.
ST is calling for readers to submit a uniquely Singaporean photo that describes what home means to them, in celebration of its Instagram followers growing to more than 200,000.
To join the contest, readers have to post the photo and add the hashtag #ST200k in the caption, as well as like ST's Instagram profile. The contest is now in its third week, and will end on July 14.
Each week since June 17, four semi-finalists have been selected based on merit by ST's Picture Desk. An Instagram poll is held to pick the two finalists, with the weekly winner determined by a second Instagram poll.
Ms Yong, who was among the winners in the first week of the contest, said that she noticed ST promoting the contest on Instagram and decided to take part just for fun.
"I saw many nice photos under the #ST200k hashtag, so I didn't think I stood a chance to win," she said. "I was very surprised and I hope to bring my family for a nice meal."
The contest is also ST's way of engaging with and recognising readers. There were more than 1,030 entries as of 10pm on Wednesday.
Social media specialist Gregory Phua, who manages ST's Instagram account, said: "Our Instagram followers have been showing us tremendous support over the years through comments and direct messages. This is just one way of thanking them."
He added that the social media team chose "home" as the contest theme as it was something that many readers can relate to.
ST picture editor Stephanie Yeow, who is among the judges, noted that the entries so far have been impressive, with many readers choosing to feature Singapore's iconic Marina Bay skyline and the new Jewel Changi Airport.
Many others showcased local food, street scenes and architecture.
When asked about attributes that the judging team looks out for, Ms Yeow said: "I go for visual impact first. The photo must catch the viewer's attention immediately- through its composition, light and colour, among other things."
She added: "What we are looking for is creativity and uniqueness."
Here's how to enter the contest:
1. Post a uniquely Singaporean photo of what home means to you. (From pictures of the Marina Bay skyline to those of your favourite comfort food, here is your chance to get creative!)
2. Add the hashtag #ST200k in the caption
3. Like ST's Instagram profile
Mr Ventus Tay, a 31-year-old regional sales manager, also emerged as a winner with his photo of a Housing Board block in the Bugis area decked out with Singapore flags.
He said that he spent about half an hour perfecting the shot when he took it about two years ago, by going from floor to floor at the block.
"HDB blocks are iconic for Singapore, and I wanted to capture this part of history for future generations," said Mr Tay, who plans on taking his wife for a shopping spree with his $200 worth of Takashimaya vouchers.
"Times have changed and a lot more people are reading the news on their phones," he added. "I think ST is taking a good direction by using Instagram to connect to readers, as it allows for more meaningful interactions."