Capturing the S'porean identity

Unable to picture exactly who a Singaporean is today, Mr Koh Sze Kiat shot this silhouette representation instead.

The professional photographer got this shot taken behind a Singapore flag to create this posed portrait as his entry for last week's Big Picture contest theme of "Singaporean".

Said the 27-year-old: "When I saw the theme, I visualised this shot in my mind because of the anonymity of who a Singaporean is today.

"It is so mixed. Anyone around you could be a Singaporean, although they may not sound or look like one."

This photo won him the $500 prize for the Big Picture, a year-long contest organised by The New Paper and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to encourage Singaporeans to document everyday life in the city.

Each of the three judges for last week's contest picked a different winner, but Mr Koh's photo got the nod as it was the only one they shortlisted in their top-three picks.

Judge Gwen Lee selected the thoughtprovoking photo as her winner. She said: "The identity behind (the) silhouette is ambiguous, but it sets one thinking (about) what exactly identifies... (a) Singaporean."

SECOND RUNNER-UP

The other two judges, Mr Kevin Lim and Miss Mindy Tan, both picked the photo as their second runner-up instead.

While Miss Tan was impressed by how Mr Koh's photo left the issue of Singaporean identity open for interpretation, her winner was a photo of a military passing out parade at The Float@ Marina Bay shot by Mr Paul Tang.

She praised him for shooting an image of a national service event, which concerns every Singaporean.

"It is interesting to note the juxtaposition of the mature, well-worn hands of the soldier's parents, a generation who has toiled for this country, against the celebratory soldiers - the generation that will lead Singapore into its future," she said.

Mr Lim liked how Mr Koh used "a simple idea" to bring across the debate on what the Singaporean identity is.

However, he picked the image of train commuters at Jurong East MRT station during peak hour, captured by Mr Kevin Loo as his top photo instead.

"It says it all. Not a literal interpretation, but indeed a Singaporean trait of peak-hour commuting," he said. "The helpless faces of the commuters are telling."

tnp@sph.com.sg


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