Through the Lens by The Straits Times: Talks on Photojournalism

National Museum of Singapore - Gallery Theatre (basement)

National Museum of Singapore

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Through The Lens: Celebrate the best in news photography  

October 5 - 27, 2019
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Level 1 (The Concourse and Stamford Gallery)
Open daily, 10am to 7pm, free admission
Guided tours are available every Saturday in October, at 11am and 1pm

Through The Lens is a month-long visual festival celebrating the best in news photography, organised by The Straits Times

The festival will be anchored by two photojournalism exhibitions and will include several outreach and engagement activities.

The Straits Times photo exhibition will showcase some of the best images captured by its photojournalists in 2018 and 2019. More than 100 images will be on display. Some of the best videos, produced by the ST Digital team, will also be screened.

The World Press Photo exhibition celebrates the most powerful, provocative and poignant images from around the world. A new digital segment showcasing the winners of the Digital Storytelling Contest will also debut in this year's exhibition.

A series of talks has been organised for the month of October. 

Speakers and Topics

Mark Cheong, The Straits Times

Mark Cheong has been a photojournalist with The Straits Times since 2012. He picked up the camera as a skateboarder in his late teens while dabbling with black and white film at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Design, which was also when he developed his interest in news photography.
During his time at the papers, he has covered everything from football to festivals, and robberies to riots, both locally and regionally.

Audrey Tan, The Straits Times

Audrey Tan is the environment correspondent with The Straits Times. She has written extensively about regional and international environmental issues, from international climate change negotiations at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, to the Day Zero water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa, and the illegal wildlife trade in South-east Asia's notorious Golden Triangle. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Social Science (Sociology) and holds a masters degree in climate science and policy from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.

Mark and Audrey will be talking about Climate Change on Oct 5, 11am. 

El Nino is a natural climate phenomenon that will occur regardless of global warming. But when it hits, it has symptoms that mimics that of long-term climate change. In Singapore and South-east Asia, El Nino leaves its mark with fire and haze. But across the Pacific Ocean in the Galapagos Islands, El Nino brings rain so intense, that the giant tortoises of Darwinian fame can be washed away. As the seas warm and rainfall patterns change during an El Nino event, it gives us a glimpse into what things could be like in a warming world. The Straits Times visited two archipelagos across the Pacific to document the impacts of this climatic event, and the lessons it can teach us in this era of anthropogenic climate change.


Lim Yaohui, The Straits Times

Lim Yaohui is a photojournalist with The Straits Times in Singapore. His passion for nature and the environment led him to work as a horticulturist with the Singapore Botanic Gardens after graduating from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Life Sciences in 2007. In 2012, he left to pursue photography and became a full time photojournalist in 2016. 
Since joining The Straits Times, he has covered regional and international news like the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Germany, Malaysia’s 14th General Election, 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests in 2019.  
Today, he continues to champion his love for nature and the environment through feature stories, from illegal wildlife trade across Asia to the last days of Inuka, the Singapore Zoo’s last polar bear to coral bleaching.

Benjamin Seetor, The Straits Times

Benjamin Seetor has been a photojournalist with The Straits Times since 2017. He first joined The New Paper in 2007 after graduating from Murdoch University, Western Australian. Over the years, he has covered both local and international events. A versatile shooter who enjoys news and sports coverage.
Benjamin believes that photojournalism and visual storytelling are more important than ever in an age where digital technology has the power to both highlight and obfuscate the truth.

Ong Wee Jin, The Straits Times

Ong Wee Jin is a 36-year-old staff photojournalist at the Straits Times.
At the age of 25, he picked up his first camera after graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering and joined the Straits Times a year later. He enjoys unearthing stories about the facets of Singapore that may sometimes miss the public’s eye. 

Yaohui, Ben and Wee Jin will be talking about Drone Photography on Oct 12. 
Everything on drone photography, from how to apply for permits, tips on how to fly them in a safe way, and what kind of shots we've taken with it. 
Benjamin will look at (i) Drone application process. ie pilot licence, activity permits, flight path, maintenance records, etc (ii) Challenges and Dangers flying in an urban environment  (iii) Media and Hobbyist, what are the restrictions differences  (iv) Istana Project, an interactive aerial perspective and walk-thru of the Istana compound 
The 'Southern Islands' refer to the cluster of islands where most of Singapore's offshore islands are located, in the southwest of the main island. They are used for different purposes like recreation, landfill, research, petroleum refining and military training. Some are relatively untouched by developments and surrounded by rich biodiversity. Photojournalist Lim Yaohui will speak about the challenges as he explores the unseen beauty of these islands taken from an aerial perspective using a drone.  
Wee Jin will show his project titled: “Beyond the arc”, which shows the diversity in the design of basketball courts in Singapore.


Chong Jun Liang, The Straits Times

Chong Jun Liang, a photojournalist with The Straits Times, first picked up his camera at the age of 13 when he joined his school’s photography club. Inspired by his then photography coach, Mr Lim Sin Thai, who was a ST photojournalist, Jun Liang decided to become a professional photographer after graduating with a business degree in 2005. A year later, Jun Liang cut his teeth in the gritty world of photojournalism by joining The New Paper, a paper that specialises in human-interest stories. He switched to making beautiful fashion, lifestyle and business portraits for SPH content marketing department for the next 10 years. In 2018, he returned to the photojournalism fold by joining The Straits Times and has been enjoying every minute of it. 

Together with Yaohui, Jun Liang will be sharing their experiences in the talk on Oct 26 called The Hong Kong protests in pictures

The proposed extradition law that would allow Hong Kong to send fugitives to mainland China for trials have resulted in protests over many months. Yaohui was in Hong Kong for 17 days from June 15 to June 24 and July 1 to July 7. He covered the two million people protest march on June 16, release of Joshua Wong on June 17, surrounding the police headquarters on June 21, storming into the Legislative Council building on July 01, and Hong Kong Mothers’ Anti-Extradition Rally on July 05. He will speak about the challenges he faced and lessons learnt when covering the protests. . 
Jun Liang took over Yaohui on July 6 and did a few stints of coverage (July 6 to July 15, July 23 to August 6 and September 18 to October 16) for the Hong Kong protest. He documented how the protests,  which were still largely peaceful in the early July, got more violent over time as both the police and the protesters increased their level of aggression. He will showcase his photos taken from the various protests. He will also talk about the dangers of working as a photojournalist in the hostile environment;  tear-gas, rubber bullets, protestors and even triads become just another day in the office for the press. 

Neo Xiaobin will be moderating a panel discussion with Ezra Acayan and Mario Cruz on Oct 19, 4pm 

Converging Lenses: Contemporary issues in documenting social and human rights issues

In a world obsessed with consuming and disseminating images via the Internet and social media, how do contemporary photographers create photographic subjectivity while having their own unique approach or perspective? 
We discuss the photographers’ motivation in their work, their difference and similarities in working the ground when it comes to photographic representations of human suffering and injustice.

Neo Xiaobin, The Straits Times

Born in 1983, Neo Xiaobin is a photojournalist with The Straits Times, an English-language daily in Singapore, since April 2010. She first joined the now-defunct my paper, a bilingual freesheet, in 2007 after graduating from Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.
A journalism major, she believes that good visual storytelling has an ability to reach and communicate, to move and connect people. She has photographed in countries like Myanmar, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Indonesia and China. Xiaobin currently manages Home in Focus, a weekly series of photography features produced by The Straits Times picture desk, which documents different facets of the quirky, compassionate and ever-changing in Singapore. 
Her photography and multimedia work has garnered regional awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA), WAN-IFRA Asia Media Awards, Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (PANPA), and the Asian Digital Media Awards (ADMA).


Ezra Acayan, Manila, Philippines

Ezra Acayan is a documentary photographer based in Manila whose work primarily focuses on social issues and human rights. Currently, he is working on a documentary reportage on the suffering and abuse experienced by communities under the Philippine government's war on drugs. 
In 2017, together with a team of Reuters journalists, was awarded a special merit at the Human Rights Press Awards for multimedia reporting on the drug war. In 2018, he received both the Ian Parry Scholarship Award for Achievement and the Lucie Foundation Photo Taken Emerging Scholarship, as well as being named Young Photographer of the Year at the Istanbul Photo Awards. 
This work—along with work by other journalists who cover the drug war—has been exhibited in Geneva for two straight years as part of the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines at the United Nations Human Rights Council. It has also been exhibited at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand (FCCT), in France during the Prix- Bayeux Calvados Award for War Correspondents, in Sarajevo during the WARM Festival, and in Germany during the Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism. 
He has done multimedia work for various outfits such as Reuters, European Pressphoto Agency, Agence France- Presse, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, and the French Society magazine. He has also done work for NGOs such as Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Care International, and the French Red Cross. His work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Vice, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Le Monde, Stern, Paris Match, and more.

Ezra's talk " Duterte's war on drugs is not over" will be on Oct 19, 11am.

Synopsis of his talk: More than 27,000 dead: this is the result of a two-year war on drugs in the Philippines. In 2016, Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Southeast Asian republic. His campaign promise to fight drugs with any means won him the election: he threatened those connected to drug consumption and sales with the death penalty, called for
vigilante justice and allowed the police to act with brutality under complete impunity. As president, Duterte has likened himself to Hitler and vowed to massacre millions of drug users. Dealers and users were murdered, as well as countless innocent lives and children—mostly poor people. An estimated 30 people are killed each day across the country. The United Nations appealed in vain to the Philippine government to investigate extrajudicial killings
and to prosecute the perpetrators, while the International Criminal Court has begun preliminary examinations into these alleged crimes against humanity. But the killing continues.
This photo reportage hopes to illuminate both the violent acts carried out in the Philippines as well as the questionable methods of Duterte and the police. With thousands dead in three years and with three more years left in Duterte’s term, it has become more than ever crucial to record these atrocities.


Mario Cruz, Lisbon, Portugal

Mario Cruz is an independent photographer focused on social injustice and human rights issues.
His projects have been recognized worldwide.
“Recent Blindness” - Estacao Imagem Award 2014
“Roof” - Magnum 30 Under 30 Award 2015
“Talibes, Modern Day slaves” - World Press Photo 2016, Picture Of the Year 2016, Magnum Photography Awards 2016, Estacao Imagem Award 2016
“Living Among What’s Left Behind” – World Press Photo 2019
His work has been published in Newsweek, The New York Times, Washington
Post, CNN, El Pais, CTXT and Neue Zurcher Zeitung.
He's the author of two books: Talibes Modern Day Slaves and Living Among What's Left Behind.

Mario will be discussing Photograhic Narratives : Photography as Evidence" at his talk on Oct 19, 2pm.

Synopsis of talk: 
The talk will be focused on the power of photography and its role to raise awareness and social change. 
Two main projects will be shown: Talibes Modern Day Slaves - World Press Photo 2016 and Living Among What's Left Behind - World Press Photo 2019.


Through the Lens by The Straits Times: Talks on Photojournalism

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