ST photo exhibition: Photographers still starstruck after all these years

ST photo exhibition: Photographers still starstruck after all these years
Can you spot Aileen Tan, Jazreel Low, Chen Hanwei and Zoe Tay in this photograph from Star Search '88?

Even as he crouched on the airport tarmac to snap the shot, Mr Simon Ker could feel the Pope's presence.

Then 66, Pope John Paul II was on his first visit to Singapore, a five-hour stopover as part of his tour through Asia and the Pacific in 1986.

Mr Ker said: "It was one of the rare occasions the press was allowed to go onto the tarmac.

"The Pope had a custom of kissing the tarmac immediately upon arrival, and we had to catch that action."

Mr Ker, 56, who currently helms the photo desk at The New Paper, was a photographer with The Straits Times from 1982 to 1988.

"As a junior photographer then, I was really excited and honoured to be so close to such a powerful man," he said.

The Pope met then-President Wee Kim Wee and then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Istana. He then celebrated mass and delivered a sermon at the National Stadium to a crowd of more than 70,000.

Mr Ker added: "Throughout my career, I have covered other important people, like politicians. But Pope John Paul II stood out.

"You could really feel his presence."

Retired photographer Tan Suan Ann, 70, also recalled having taken many photos of celebrities.

He was with The Straits Times for 29 years, from 1976 to 2005.

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