This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.
by Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E) and Hoong Li-Ann (16A03A)
If you were to pop by the Raffles Photographic Society (or Photog, as we’re informally known) on a given Friday afternoon, there are a number of things you might find us doing. We might be in the Year 1-4 Artspace, having one of our mentorship sessions, as professional photographers teach us about anything from portrait to night photography, or perhaps we might be on a CCA outing, at some fascinating area in Singapore for a shoot. From atmospheric abandoned places like the Istana Woodneuk, to the colourful likes of Little India. It’s always an interesting experience to discover new places – or sometimes, new ways of looking at familiar places – while getting the chance to put what we’ve learnt from mentorship sessions into practice. This hands-on experience is definitely meaningful, especially with the immediate feedback from our mentors who frequently tag along. Plus it’s also nice to have time set aside in a busy week just for photography. Also, after our outings, we have review sessions as a club where our mentors give personal, detailed feedback on our photographs, helping us improve. It’s also nice to see fellow CCA mates’ photos too and learn from them, and to chat with them, in the process not only swapping ideas and insights about photography, but also making friends.
It’s quickly apparent that far from the stereotype of photography as an individual, solitary pursuit, there’s really a lot of interaction as a photographer, not least within the CCA. There’s a friendly, easygoing vibe to photog as we discover new places together in our outings, and share photos and conversation both in and out of sessions. The photography community you’ll spend time with is at once diverse, while at the same time also bonded, as we indulge in our shared passion for photography. With all our different levels and areas of expertise, it’s also always great to be able to learn from and help others. Plus, being with a bunch of fellow photography enthusiasts also means having some cool, hilarious adventures – spending hours trying to make a CCA group photo just right, entering the Canon Photomarathon, where some of us actually won!
The interaction happens not just within the club, but also outside as we share our works, participating in and even creating our own exhibitions both in school and sometimes for the public. In 2015 for example, we contributed to the Singapore Night Festival, a huge event in the local arts scene, and also put up our very own inaugural year-end exhibition, In Transit. Alongside these artistic pursuits, a large part of photog’s activities also includes events coverage. While certainly a commitment whenever you sign up to cover an event, there are perks too: free entry to, the chance to interact with people from other CCAs and walks of life, and sometimes even get behind the scenes. It’s especially fulfilling when one covers events where a friend’s performing, since you’re not only supporting them by being there, but also helping them preserve treasured memories.
Besides these, being a photographer doesn’t end with just club activities, rather it starts there, with it up to you to keep photographing and exploring on your journey as a photographer. Photography is everywhere, not just CCA moments alone, and in fact a fair number of our photographs are ones taken on our own time. There are always opportunities for a good photograph, no matter whether it’s shot with your phone or a DSLR.
In the end, doing photography ultimately helps shape how you view the world, and not just literally. Through looking through the lens of a camera, one develops a different perspective, and with it the awareness that there are different ways of looking at what’s around you, the knowledge that in the seemingly everyday there are fascinating angles and interesting details out there, just waiting for you to notice them. Photography lets you capture moments, and stop time in a way, to let people look back through your photos. Being able to give that not just to yourself, but also to someone else, is quite an honour. Ultimately, perhaps that’s one of the things photography comes down to, learning to treasure the moments, to feel the fleetingness of things – a deeper appreciation of the experiences we have in life.