Ready, aim, shoot! Capturing beauty of Singapore via photos

Entrepreneur James Lum took this winning photo of an old woman at a void deck talking on her phone. He said: "I came across this old lady alone. The void deck is a very uniquely Singapore feature, and so are her vintage clothes. I wanted to capture t
Entrepreneur James Lum took this winning photo of an old woman at a void deck talking on her phone. He said: “I came across this old lady alone. The void deck is a very uniquely Singapore feature, and so are her vintage clothes. I wanted to capture this passing generation and remind us that Singapore isn’t just about buildings, but about people.” PHOTO: JAMES LUM, @LUMOLOGY
Entrepreneur James Lum took this winning photo of an old woman at a void deck talking on her phone. He said: "I came across this old lady alone. The void deck is a very uniquely Singapore feature, and so are her vintage clothes. I wanted to capture t
Lawyer William Ong is at the Marina Bay area every July and August to take photos of fireworks in the run-up to National Day.PHOTO: WILLIAM ONG, @ONGWILL
Entrepreneur James Lum took this winning photo of an old woman at a void deck talking on her phone. He said: "I came across this old lady alone. The void deck is a very uniquely Singapore feature, and so are her vintage clothes. I wanted to capture t
Freelance photographer Isabelle Lim with her photo of a man's shadow on the national flag. She has three photos at the Mad About Singapore event.PHOTO: ISABELLE LIM, @ISSYSHOOTS

Typical social studies lessons involve textbooks and teachers. But entrepreneur Santo Thie, 39, wants to offer a different sort of lesson about Singapore, using photography and social media platform Instagram.

He is the founder of InstaSG, a community of Singapore "Instagrammers" that aims to showcase the beauty of Singapore.

InstaSG, with support from the National Youth Council, organises the annual Mad About Singapore photography exhibition and competition. Started in 2014, it held its fourth edition yesterday at Our Tampines Hub.

This year's edition received the highest number of submissions - over 16,500, from fewer than 10,000 in 2014, and about 14,000 last year.

"The point of InstaSG is to show what Singapore means to people. Nowadays, people go online to get information and learn things. So Instagram can naturally be a place where they learn about Singapore and develop a sense of identity and pride," Mr Thie said.

Out of the submissions, a panel of judges with photography expertise chose 100 for the exhibition, submitted by 79 Instagram users.

The winning photograph was submitted by entrepreneur James Lum, a 27-year-old who goes by the name "lumology" on Instagram.

His submission was a photo of an old woman at a void deck talking on her mobile phone.

"It has always been a personal project for me to document the old Singapore," Mr Lum said. "I came across this old lady alone. The void deck is a very uniquely Singapore feature, and so are her vintage clothes. I wanted to capture this passing generation and remind us that Singapore isn't just about buildings, but about people."

Another noteworthy Instagrammer who had three photographs exhibited is 23-year-old freelance photographer Isabelle Lim, who is deaf and has a rare genetic disorder called Nager syndrome.

"For me, photography is a way to save memories and communicate with my viewers," she said through sign language.

Taking snapshots of Singapore in new ways is not just the domain of the young. Lawyer William Ong, 57, has been into photography for over 30 years, and now uses Instagram as a platform to showcase his work.

"It's about the shared love of photography," he said. "In the past, you put your work in an album and left it alone. Now, people can 'like' and comment on it. It's an instant response."

Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng was the guest of honour at the exhibition. He is well known for being active on Instagram.

"For me, it's to share snippets of my life," said Mr Baey. "Through photos, ordinary things are given meaning. Hopefully this will remind us to keep our eyes open even in our homeland and neighbourhood, to distinguish beauty and uniqueness."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Ready, aim, shoot! Capturing beauty of S'pore via photos'. Print Edition | Subscribe