Started in 2002, Objectifs’ annual Shooting Home mentorship programme has given plenty of local photographers a jump-start on their professional careers, pairing students with an established local mentor for intensive all-day shooting and workshop sessions. As part of the programme, alumni are brought back together a year later for a reunion show, where they have the opportunity to display a new project they’ve worked on since Shooting Home.
This month, eight alumni from the 2011 Shooting Home class will display their work in the reunion show, ‘Moving Forward’. Among them is Serangoon Junior College teacher Lim Weixiang, 30, whose project ‘Our Coastline’ sees him focus his lens on daily life on different parts of the Singapore coast. Here he explains the origins of the series and how he has gone about shooting it.
How did you come up with the idea for ‘Our Coastline’?
This project came about at a time when I felt a bit lost – at the end of last year I turned 30, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. So I went to the coast along Tanjong Rhu just to get some air and make sense of things. I happened to have my camera with me and I took some shots. One of my shots from there [pictured above] won The New Paper’s ‘Big Picture’ contest, so from there it gradually became this project, but it wasn’t planned out. It’s different from my ‘Shooting Home’ project, which was a sort of dreamscape of my neighbourhood around Paya Lebar.
How many images do you have?
For ‘Moving Forward’, I’ve selected about six shots that I’m planning to show, but I’ve gone through about 50 or 60 rolls of film. The few I’ve chosen are special to me, because they were taken early on. When I look at them, I remember how I felt and how I took the shot. With this series, I’ve been using a medium-format TLR [twin-lens reflex] camera and shooting with film, so it’s different from shooting with digital: you don’t get the instant feedback.
With the TLR, I remember how I adjusted the shutter, how the shot was composed… but you don’t actually know what the shot looks like until it’s developed. Since film is expensive, I make a conscious decision to take only one roll of film when I go out, which is only ten frames. The final outcome is a bit more like serendipity.
Are you still working on the project?
Yes, I haven’t covered the whole of the Singapore coast yet – I still have a few places to go, particularly along the north coast. Since starting the project, I’ve found out that we have 190km of coastline here. Not all of it is accessible, but you see a lot of different things and some of it hasn’t changed from the 1970s. When I go out, I don’t limit myself, I just take whatever captures my attention. I go there with no preconceptions – and the photos I get just happen as I find what there is.
To find the areas, I usually just look at Google Maps, see where I can go, and I’ll bike or drive out there – sometimes I just go to the coastline and get lost. But if you observe all the photographs, I’ve tried to stay consistent in the way the photo is lit. So I usually go after it rains, when the light is soft and muted. So the whole month of June, I’ve had very little chance, because it’s been so hot and the light just isn’t correct.