Our story, in snapshots

PHOTO: The Straits Times

From the last General Election to the passing of Singapore's founding prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew this year, the Big Picture has witnessed significant chapters of Singapore's history.

Over the last five years, this photography contest has also captured the public scenes, community festivals and personal moments of everyday life in our city.

Launched in 2011, the Big Picture has successfully held four year-long seasons of competition.

Every week, Singaporeans and permanent residents were invited to respond with pictures to themes ranging from events like National Day to abstract topics such as the future of this country.

Over 21,500 pictures were submitted for this contest organised by The New Paper (TNP) and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to encourage Singaporeans to frame life in this nation through their lens.

Over the 208 weeks of this contest, a total of 103 photo enthusiasts - some of whom were repeat winners - won the weekly cash prize of $500.

In each round, up to 10 pictures were shortlisted by me and presented without the contestants' names to a rotating panel of three judges to vote for a winner.

Despite this anonymity, the talents of several contestants shone through.

Civil servant Hang Loo Ming, engineer Chan Wai Meng, freelance photographer Suhaimi Abdullah and secretary Tay Kim Suan were part of a select group of contestants who won multiple times over the years.


They could only win up to four times each season, however, as a cap was placed to ensure a diversity of winners.

More than just a contest, the Big Picture was also a platform for Singapore's photography community.

Some 89 professional photographers, curators and artists volunteered their time to judge each week, not only to select the winner but share their opinions and tips with contestants.

The Big Picture itself was designed by photographer Tay Kay Chin, who also acted as the contest's chief judge by advising on photography-related queries.

He particularly championed fair conditions for photographers, and the Big Picture winners retain the copyright of their images while allowing the organisers royalty-free use of these for a limited period.

"The Big Picture presented a snapshot of photography in Singapore and the city itself," said TNP editor Dominic Nathan.

"Week after week, we told a new Singapore story. That has been the beauty of the Big Picture, its ability to uncover hidden stories in our neighbourhoods. None of this would have been possible without MCCY's financial support, the judges who volunteered their time every week and Justin Zhuang, who worked quietly behind the scenes to make it all happen, both in print and online.

"With this collection, who knows, maybe we might we able to find a way to exhibit them soon. Any sponsors out there?"

To see photos of all the Big Picture finalists, winners and learn more about the judges, visit our website, www2.tnp.sg/thebigpicture, and our Facebook page, facebook.com/TheBigPictureContest

This article was first published on September 8, 2015.
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