What Makes a Happy City?
Children’s laughter and precious moments amidst delightful architecture were just some of the 3,500 portrayals of urban happiness featured in CapitaLand-NGC “Building People” Competition 2014
Issue: Oct 2014
Happiness in a Cone by Edward Tian clinched the top prize in the CapitaLand-NGC “Building People” Competition, which saw more than 3,500 photography entries from around the world including the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and the Bahamas
What kinds of joy can a city bring? Over 3,500 entries sought to capture happiness against the backdrop of CapitaLand properties for the CapitaLand – National Geographic Channel (NGC) “Building People” Competition 2014.
In its fifth year running, the competition, with the theme of “happiness”, invited a wide variety of interpretations from around the world including the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and the Bahamas. For some, happiness is taking in the dazzling view of the cityscape. For others, the hustle and bustle of city life introduces exciting chance encounters.
For 24-year-old Johannes Ardyan, joy was experiencing the energetic pulse of Clarke Quay with his best friend. He captured that special moment and submitted it to the competition. “My best friend and I had just graduated, and Singapore was our first vacation together,” said Ardyan. “I took this picture as it was one of the happiest moments in my life!”
Through photography, Building People revealed the many interpretations of happiness in city life; the exhibition launch drew an international audience including Ardyan (left), who took a flight from Jakarta to Singapore
Mr Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited, said: “Bringing ‘Happiness’ to our stakeholders is in line with our credo of ‘Building People. Building Communities.’. Our commitment to develop high-quality real estate products and services, and the well-being of our shoppers, tenants, serviced residence guests and homeowners is driven by our aim to bring ‘Happiness’ to those who live, work and play at CapitaLand properties. A good building brings people together, and its role as a backdrop for many memorable moments, is a simple, yet important one. ”
Held at ION Orchard for over five days, the competition’s exhibition highlighted over 450 top entries. On the opening day, more than 120 eager visitors thronged the fourth level basement of the mall.
But even before the exhibition, some of the shutterbugs were already enjoying a treat at a photography seminar hosted by NGC’s Photographer, Sean Gallagher. During the three-hour session, participants learnt about the numerous ingredients that went into making a good photograph, including storytelling and people skills.
"Photography is a way to understand what is happening around us. The camera is a passport that allows you to meet and understand people, their stories, different cultures and the environment,” said Gallagher during the Building People photography seminar
Beyond Building Buildings to Building People
Tham Kham Hooi (left) is often drawn to photographing people interacting with unique architectural features, while Ellis Tay (right) focuses her lens on textures and buildings
The laugher of kids was a common portrayal of happiness. Children were mostly photographed at malls such as Westgate, which is popular for its garden playground, and Bugis Junction, which has a fun water feature.
Retiree Tham Kham Hooi, 64, said, “Both the young and old get curious when they see an exciting water feature. When they play with it, they get so exuberant. That’s really fun to photograph!”
Architectural photography enthusiasts had a great time with buildings like Bugis+. Ellis Tay, 50, was so intrigued by the mall that she kept photographing it. “Bugis+ is interesting because of its textures and combination of different buildings,” she said.
Photographers who attributed happiness to the earlier generations took shots of the bronze statues of coolies and merchants that line Boat Quay. These photos revealed how Singapore’s present bliss in terms of peace and prosperity were built laboriously by the efforts of previous generations. CapitaLand offices such as Six Battery Road were featured in these shots.
Meanwhile, the electrifying pulse of city life was seen in entries of Clarke Quay, ION Orchard, The Interlace and The Star Vista.
Visitors, excited to see their own or their friends’ entries featured in the exhibition, were snapping away excitedly at the showcase
The judges of the competition had a challenging time selecting the winners as many of the shots displayed talent. The panel comprised Gallagher and representatives from CapitaLand and NGC.
“We were so excited when we received the entries!” said Gallagher. “The photographers have really nailed the theme of ‘happiness’ by capturing a diversity of emotions amidst the unique backdrops of CapitaLand properties. The entries also encapsulated the excitement of living in a city. I feel honoured being a part of this, and witnessing so much potential in photography.”
Alvin Leow Ek Teck with his niece and nephew, who were photographed at ION Orchard sharing a good cup of ice cream – the picture of them won him the Third Prize
Alvin Leow Ek Teck, 43, was elated when he was announced Third Prize winner. He has been practising photography for three years, and makes trips to places like Xinjiang, China, and Myanmar to hone his skills.
“For me, ‘happiness’ is about having a good time, which is why I took this shot of my niece and nephew enjoying ice cream at ION Orchard,” said Leow. “No photograph can be replicated, and no moment can be repeated. This moment with the kids is something I’ll always treasure.”
Wong’s shot was praised by Gallagher as dramatic, playful, and having a composition that is “just perfect”
A colourful shot of kites flying over Raffles City Singapore won the second prize. The picture, by Wong Chek Poh, 53, a tutor, was shot during the Singapore Kite Festival. “This shot gives a sense of freedom,” said Wong, “and that, to me, is joy.”
Gallagher enthused over Wong’s shot: “The playfulness of the kites has been captured really well against the dramatic clouds and the architecture of Raffles City. The composition is just perfect!”
(Left) The Voters’ Choice went to Terryl Villablanca Eugenio, whose colourful depiction of the interior of ION Orchard, juxtaposed with human figures, drew the curiosity of many viewers; (Right) Tian, who won first prize, will soon get to fulfill his dream of going on an overseas photography assignment with a mentor
The first prize went to a moment of shared happiness between two strangers at Clarke Quay: a Turkish ice cream seller famous for his humourous antics, and a lady. Edward Tian, in his forties, managed to vividly encapsulate the dynamic, spirited moment despite challenging lighting conditions.
Tian said: “The shot was actually quite accidental as I was testing out my new camera. This is my third time participating in the competition. Last year, I won the ‘Voters’ Choice Award’ for my photograph of the Ascott Raffles Place Singapore. This year, I’m ecstatic to learn that my photography has improved to win the top spot.”
Happiness begets happiness: Gallagher (second from left) with the winners of the competition, First Prize winner Tian (left), Second Prize winner Wong (second from right), and Third Prize winner Leow (right)
Tian added that he has “never grown out of my childhood love for ice-cream, which always brings me that tingling sense of happiness.” For that, he can now also happily walk away with S$2,000 worth of CapitaVouchers, and a complimentary stay at one of Ascott’s serviced residences in Asia-Pacific.
However, the consultant is most excited about embarking on a three-day exclusive photography assignment in China with Gallagher, who is a six-time Pulitzer Center grant recipient. The mentorship is one of the highlights of the prize.
“I’ve always wanted to improve my skills in photographing streetscapes and local scenes. They are where I believe the life of a city takes place,” said Tian. “This assignment with Mr Gallagher is more than what I’ve ever expected.” Indeed, Tian will now get to fulfill a dream he has had for a long time.