Singaporean is only winner from Asia of iPhone contest

Architecture photographer Darren Soh, whose first formal photography job was as an intern photojournalist at The Straits Times, started shooting buildings for a living 13 years ago. His winning photograph (below) shows a reflection of HDB blocks on t
Architecture photographer Darren Soh, whose first formal photography job was as an intern photojournalist at The Straits Times, started shooting buildings for a living 13 years ago. PHOTOS: C.Y. KONG, DARREN SOH

Local architecture photographer Darren Soh has been named one of the 10 global winners of Apple's Shot on iPhone Challenge.

Mr Soh, 42, was the only winner from Asia in the list of winners Apple announced on Tuesday.

The winners' photographs will be featured on billboards in some cities, Apple retail stores and online. The photographers will also receive a licensing fee for their work.

Mr Soh told The Straits Times that the win is not a big deal as he does not take photographs with competitions in mind.

But he is happy that his photograph of a reflection of Potong Pasir Housing Board blocks was his winning submission.

The photograph happened by chance, said Mr Soh, whose first formal photography job was as an intern photojournalist at The Straits Times.

Architecture photographer Darren Soh, whose first formal photography job was as an intern photojournalist at The Straits Times, started shooting buildings for a living 13 years ago. His winning photograph (below) shows a reflection of HDB blocks on t
His winning photograph (above) shows a reflection of HDB blocks on the wet floor of a basketball court. PHOTOS: C.Y. KONG, DARREN SOH

He had been in Potong Pasir estate, shooting the iconic sloped roofs of the blocks in the area when he noticed a reflection of the buildings on the wet floor of a basketball court.

"I was just trying different compositions and taking many pictures without realising that a bird would be in the shot."

He had submitted five of his photographs via e-mail for the competition, including shots of Singapore's cityscape and public housing.

Mr Soh, who started photographing buildings for a living 13 years ago, enjoys taking pictures of buildings from the 1960s and 1970s, including Golden Mile Complex and People's Park Complex.

In many of his personal photographs on Instagram, he tries to showcase the history of HDB homes as well.

"As a photographer, it is always nice to be recognised for the work that you do," Mr Soh said.

"But I am happier that this win means that an image of public housing in Singapore has gone global, especially when our public housing landscape is changing so much," he added.

Mr Phil Schiller, one of the judges of the competition and senior vice-president of worldwide marketing at Apple, said of Mr Soh's winning picture: "You are compelled to think about where and how this photo was taken. The bird flying in the corner provides the single sign of life in an otherwise surreal composition."

SHOWCASING HDB TO THE WORLD

It is always nice to be recognised for the work that you do. But I am happier that this win means that an image of public housing in Singapore has gone global, especially when our public housing landscape is changing so much.

MR DARREN SOH, an architecture photographer from Singapore who is one of 10 global winners of Apple's Shot on iPhone Challenge.

THOUGHT-PROVOKING SHOT

You are compelled to think about where and how this photo was taken. The bird flying in the corner provides the single sign of life in an otherwise surreal composition.

MR PHIL SCHILLER, one of the judges of the competition and senior vice-president of worldwide marketing at Apple

He was among an international panel of judges which included Mr Pete Souza, former United States president Barack Obama's chief official White House photographer; Mr Jon McCormack, camera software team leader at Apple; and Ms Chen Man, a Chinese fashion photographer.

Photographers were invited to submit their work for consideration between Jan 22 and Feb 7 this year.

In May 2016, Mr Soh's composite image of lightning in Sembawang earned him an interview with British broadcaster BBC.

The stunning photograph was created using 12 images that were shot from an HDB block in Sembawang's Montreal Link, and it was his first time producing a composite image of a lightning storm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2019, with the headline 'S'porean is only Asian winner of iPhone contest'. Print Edition | Subscribe