Building Memories

CapitaLand-National Geographic Channel “Building People” Photography Competition draws the region to capture memorable moments

Issue: Sep 2012

This picture of Raffles City Singapore by first-time participant, Teo Kiat Choon, won the First Prize as well as the Voters’ Choice
CapitaLand-National Geographic Channel “Building People” Photography Competition draws the region to capture memorable moments

In celebratory rainbow hues, in quiet shades of grey, in a blur of motion, in meditative stillness - CapitaLand properties around the world were captured in stunning and often surprising angles through the lenses of photography enthusiasts throughout the Asia Pacific. From April, shutterbugs were invited to send photographs of people interacting with CapitaLand properties worldwide in line with the theme, “Building People”, which is CapitaLand’s corporate ideology and encapsulates its commitment to develop buildings that would enhance lives.

One of the first women photographers at National Geographic, Annie Griffiths, has taken photographs in more than 125 countries on every continent in the world except Antarctica
One of the first women photographers at National Geographic, Annie Griffiths, has taken photographs in more than 125 countries on every continent in the world except Antarctica

More than 2,000 entries were eventually sent in for the third CapitaLand-National Geographic Channel “Building People” Photography Competition, a 70-per cent increase from the previous year. In addition to countries like Singapore, China, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Brunei, there was an entry from a new participating country – India.

But beyond sheer numbers, the entries also wowed the judges with their quality.

“There were too many good pictures. It was heart-breaking having to narrow down the winners. It was thrilling for me to see the quality of the entries and how creative the people were. The photographers clearly worked so hard to address the theme of ‘Building People’. That’s not easy to do. It’s much easier to just photograph pure architecture. When you put in the human element, it’s a bigger challenge,” said celebrity judge, acclaimed National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths.

Griffiths was in Singapore to grace the award ceremony, and unveil the exhibition of more than 200 photographs at ION Orchard. She was also in the country to conduct a seminar and a photography trail with the winners which were eagerly-anticipated activities. The celebrity photographer was specially chosen for the project because of her reputation of capturing strong human elements in her works.

Mr Tan Seng Chai, Deputy Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited, added, “Participants have also become more creative in finding new angles and new photography techniques to highlight the unique design and architecture of the buildings captured. The benchmark for this competition has certainly been raised with more submissions, heightened creativity and regional competitiveness as each country strives to portray its architecture in the best light possible.”

Winning Moments

30 of the best photographs were eventually shortlisted and the winners chosen from there. First-time participant Teo Kiat Choon’s shot of Raffles City Singapore caught the judges’ attention as well as the favour of online voters, and was awarded not only the First Prize but also the Voters’ Choice. The picture features a lone trishaw operator in quiet repose as he awaits his next customer which is set in sharp contrast to Raffles City Singapore aglow with lights as the crowd stream in and out of the busy mall.

“I chose the picture because it felt like a story: life was swirling around this individual, you have a beautiful setting and people were coming and going. You want to know about this individual. When a still image can achieve that much, that’s a good picture,” said Griffiths.

52-year-old Teo, who is a Research and Development Manager at an automation company, spent an hour circling Raffles City before he chanced upon the trishaw operator.

“I was just lucky that the man happened to be there. To capture the action of the moment, I used a slower shutter speed,” explained Teo who took up photography as a hobby 10 years ago.

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This picture featuring the buzz at the basement of Raffles City at the heart of the city which links the mall to two MRT stations won Wong Chow Mein the second prize

Second-prize winner, Wong Chow Mein, took mere seconds to snap his winning shot of the basement of Raffles City Singapore linking the mall to two MRT stations.

“I am very familiar with Raffles City Singapore because my girlfriend works there. So, I had already composed the shot in my mind before I was even there,” said Wong who enjoys photography so much that he gave up his job as an aerospace engineer two years ago to become a professional photographer with a creative agency.

“I used a wide angle lens because I wanted to juxtapose the curves with the lines on the ceiling, and also to show the movement of the people depicting vibracy and energy which links back to the theme.”

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The vibrant yellow and pink of the shophouses at Clarke Quay is echoed in the outfit of the runner, creating an interesting symmetry in this third-prize and Best CapitaMall Photo shot by Ong Yi Chao

Ong Yi Chao who was awarded the third prize and the Best CapitaMall Photo Award for his delightfully colourful shot of Clarke Quay is no stranger to winning. In the last seven years, he has won over 200 prizes in photography competitions¸ including two international ones.

“I like to take part in competitions because it helps me improve my skills and lets me know where I stand vis-à-vis other photographers,” said Ong who took part in this competition for the first time.

He spent three days shooting six CapitaLand properties around the island before he sent in 15 pictures. For his winning shot, Ong waited 20 minutes for the right runner to cross his path before he clicked the picture.

Jacobs Chong’s shot of Clarke Quay in the quiet of the morning earned him the Special Mention Award
Jacobs Chong’s shot of Clarke Quay in the quiet of the morning earned him the Special Mention Award

“I used a wide angle lens and exaggerate the size of the building and went really low to get this shot so that I could capture the whole building with the person in the foreground,” said Ong.

“It was a really good use of the super wide angle lens, it was fun, there was action with the guy running past, there was colour and interesting details like the Hooters sign. It was lyrical and alive and really stretched the theme of Building People,” said Griffiths. “When I look at a picture, I look out for a moment; something that grabs me and makes me want to know more. This picture had that [quality].”

A Special Mention prize was given to Jacobs Chong for his take of a side of Clarke Quay not often seen. Set against a lightening morning sky, the dining and entertainment hub is captured in a rare moment of quiet.

“I love landscape and I like shooting sunrises and sunsets because of the changing colours,” said Chong of his photograph

Caring Moments

This year, a new staff category was added to the competition. Staff of CapitaLand were invited to snap photographs based on the theme Because iCare, a group-wide campaign to consolidate the organisation’s efforts to engage and build up its staff, stakeholders and the community.

First-prize winner, Melvin Tan, Senior Regional Manager of Sales and Marketing, Southeast Asia and Australia, The Ascott Limited, took only seconds to get his shot of CapitaLand volunteers and children at JCube’s Olympic-size ice-skating rink during a P.E.E.K. event.

“I was there as a volunteer and my main concern was the safety of the children. I was on the ice balancing with my track shoes when I saw the skaters coming towards me. Since I had my camera with me and the settings were all there, I took the shot,” he recounted.

First (top), second (left) and third (right) prize winners of the BiC Photo Story Competition
First (top), second (left) and third (right) prize winners of the BiC Photo Story Competition

Christine Teh, Manager, Corporate Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility, CapitaLand Limited, who garnered second prize was at a “Building for Tomorrow Caring for Longdong” (为明天•关爱龙洞) expedition at CapitaLand Longdong Hope School in China when she took the picture of the children in the classroom.

“They had just done a hand-printing artwork and were in high spirits when we took the photograph. I was trying to capture the words on the blackboard,” said Teh. “It was a privilege to be part of the team that went to help these children and I wanted to give others a glimpse of what it was like so that they would be similarly inspired to help these children have a better future.”

For third-prize winner, Eric Kwan, Manager, End-user Computing, CapitaLand Limited, it was an eye for detail that won the day. His shot of an iron bench outside Capital Tower revealed an interesting side of the sculpture.

“I wanted to take a picture of the back of the bench with the people motif because this bench is a common sight yet the detail is not often noticed, and it goes well with the “caring” and “people” theme of the competition,” said Kwan.

Frozen in time, each entry represents a capsule of life and shows how buildings are not only integral to life but have a life of their own. CapitaLand’s efforts to capture these memories to build an anthology of its properties is an endeavor well-worth building on.

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