darkroom issue 1 - close to heart

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7 1 * My Favourite Things Gallery * What is Lomography? * SMU Arts Festival * Holland Village Photomarathon CLOSE TO HEART SMUSAIC smu.photography by Issue 01 2010

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With much love and enthusiasm, we warmly welcome you to our first issue of Darkroom, themed ‘Close To Heart’. Fresh off the press and bursting with goodness, we bring to you the quirks of photography, joy, happiness, and so much more.


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Bounding Region






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P04 Darkroom Team

P06-11My Favourite Things P05

Editor’s Message

P12-15 Seeing & Feeling

P22-25 Student Activity Photos• SMU Arts Festival ‘10• LOVE Exhibition• Holland V


P32 About SMUSAIC & Drycab


P16-21Interview: Prof Winston Koh

P27Featured Website

P28-31 Lomography


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RACHEL (Editor-in-Chief )

Rachel loves: black and white, emotionally-chal-lenging films, post-rock, beauty in simple things, genuine people, spontane-ity and city lights at night.

Darkroom Team

HONGHAO (Director)

Honghao loves being able to do the things he likes most. Driven by his pas-sion and high ambitions, he is a simple man who appreciates good coffee. Music, photography, good food and films are faithful companions in his simple lifestyle.

ALVIN (Publisher)

Photography has taught Alvin to search for half-moments, unspoken thoughts and beauty in people. In addition to photojournalism and travel photography, he loves lomography and technol-ogy, cooking shows and Norah Jones.

STEFFIE (Writer)

Guilty pleasures in life: live/acoustic music, getting too much sun, black and white photography. Oh, and food! Must not forget food.

OLIVIA (Creative Director)

Olivia’s interest on pho-tography started seven years ago, when she saw her brother taking pic-tures in Shanghai. Besides photography, Olivia’s other interests include film (Lost in Translation!) and music (Phoenix!)

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Editor’s Message

With much love and enthusiasm, we warmly welcome you to our first issue of Darkroom, themed ‘Close To Heart’. Fresh off the press and bursting with goodness, we bring to you the quirks of photography, joy, happiness, and so much more.

In this issue, catch a glimpse of your friends with items that are dear to them (page 6); see and feel with us as we take you through two OCIP projects (page 12); look through the lens of our very own Professor Winston Koh (page 16); explore student activities from a new perspective (page 22); and get smart with gadgets, cool websites and an exclusive Lomography feature!

So, take time off your school schedules to sit back, relax, and appreciate all things colourful, picturesque with this issue ‘Close To Heart’. We humbly hope that you enjoy this issue as much as we have preparing it for you :)

Love,RACHEL TEOEditor-in-chief

Photo credit: Seth Fluker

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My Favourite Things

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My Favourite ThingsA few weeks ago, we opened the DryCab studio to the student body, hoping to answer this question.

The most common: Laptops and cameras.

The not-so-common: Perfume, ballet shoes, Spongebob Squarepants memorabilia, a credit card, a law textbook … the list goes on.

This writer only wished she had a chance to ask why one would carry a bottle of perfume to school.

What matters the most to us, SMU students?

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Layout 2

TRACY (right)

This perfume was a gift from my best friend in

Shanghai before I went to Singapore last sum-mer. Every time I smell it, I would think of her. Also, the design of the

perfume bottle is really cute and unique!

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ZARA (right) It stores my memories, it’s my window to the world, and it keeps me close to my loved ones who are far away. Plus it’s really pretty!

WEIZHENG (left) A man is only worth as much as his credit limit, and a credit card sure whips up your ego when you go out! Without it, i feel lost...that’s why for everything else, there’s my credit card.

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EMILY (left) I hoped that by declar-ing it as my favourite thing of the moment, it would reciprocate my love for it, and allow me to find some hidden treasure in it!

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But I suppose if it’s that important to you, you’d chuck it in your bag anyway. Never mind the extra load.

Just like how our GPA matters to most us. We sacrifice much in trying to attain our dream GPA, willing to lose sleep over cramming in that last bit of revision before the finals. Never mind the extra load (under our eyes).

And the rest of us? The ones who treasure their perfume, ballet shoes and what-not?

Co-curricular activities, going for exchanges, internships - in a nutshell, non-academia related - perhaps we’re not entirely a breeding ground for SMUggers.

More photos from the series can be found on SMUSAIC wall at Li Ka Shing Library Level 2.

Text by Steffie Gan. Photography by Joel Tang, Ooi Yao Min & Chong Hong Hao.

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Seeing & FeelingSteffie Gan and Rachel Teo share their experiences in their overseas community involvement projects in Cambodia and China respectively.

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I’ll never forget dawn of our last day at COSI Children’s Village.

As the minivan turned to the cast gates of COSI, the same gates that we entered for the first time not so long ago, I looked at the multitude of faces, hands waving fervently as the children bid us goodbye.

One particular face stood out from the crowd. Vannary is waving, shouting words in Khemer that I cannot comprehend, and yet, as I look into her eyes, they give it all away. She’s telling us to take care, to not forget her, and to come back again. They convey a silent gratitude, a promise not to forget us, and all her love for her brothers and sisters from Singapore.

I’ll never forget Simmony, who gave me a piece of paper where she has written “I LOVE YOU SISTHER STEFFIE” and stuck on

fresh flowers for decoration. It was the first of many ‘Dear Sister Steffie’ letters that I would be receiving.

I’ll never forget that night we sat on the swings outside our rooms under a blanket of stars. Vannary handed her letter to me, and in it she wrote ‘Don’t be sad when you miss us, because when you see the sky, know that I see the same sky and I am missing you too.’

I’ll never forget the children’s voices, sing-ing in unison, as if they could lose them-selves in the music and forget about their troubled past, their worries and missing their families. The most beautiful sound I ever heard.

Text by Steffie Gan. Photography by Steffie Gan.

Steffie’sCambodian OCIP

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Rachel’s Chinese OCIP

Tree-planting. A ceremony complete with a bonfire and stellar performances. Singing Home alongside a class of 50 students. Sharing pictures of our lives in Singapore. These are but some of the memorable experiences that I took away from Project Xinyuan 3.

What can I say about the students? Where else will I be able to find such an wide-eyed, friendly and eager bunch? I will not forget how on the first day of lessons, the

class applauded as we entered, with a huge ‘Welcome to Wuzhou’ written on the chalkboard. We taught them English by playing games such as Hangman, Pictionary and Charades - and the students had a ball of a time. The students certainly were not shy in asking us for photos and autographs, and even showered gifts and letters on us!

Being in Wuzhou let me experience what it’s like to live a city life that is slightly slower than fast-paced Singapore. Eating in roadside stalls that served cheap yet delicious food, roaming through the streets of the city center, singing at karaoke sessions with the students after school – all these proved to be very memorable experiences indeed. I dare say that the many memories from this trip will not be forgotten in a long time to come.

Text by Rachel Teo. Photography by Chua Chang Loong.

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Interview: Prof Winston Koh

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Interview: Prof Winston Koh Capturing moments in our dynamic world

Prof Koh epitomizes ‘busy’, the most overused word in SMU. Not just your typical instructor, giving a lecture on Microeconomics or rushing to meetings in between consultations, it turns out that he is also an avid photographer. As it is, he has just arrived from an event at Suntec and has braved the torrential rain to join us for a chat on how it’s never too late to try something new, no matter how busy (there I just used it!) you are.

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So when did you pick up photography?

I’ve always been interested in photogra-phy over the years. I think I have a good sense of composition and what consti-tutes a good picture. But I really started about 2 years ago, the past year being the most intensive seeing as I go out to shoot almost every weekend.

Oh, but why not whilst you were a stu-dent at the University of Cambridge? Given that River Cam was your back-yard and the countless weekends spent punting down the river, I’m sure there would have been many photo opportu-nities, no?

I had a film camera while I was a student, but I was constrained by the number of shots you can take. Film was expensive in the old days, so you would want to ensure that each shot was a shot you’d want to keep.

Back then we usually took group shots and the scenery. Shots with animated objects

were hard to capture because my camera wasn’t very fast. So you can say that photo opportunities were limited. Of course now with a digital camera you can do a lot more. You can delete unwanted photos right away and you don’t have to print your photos. Now, each time I go out I can shoot 400 shots. With 36 shots per film, it couldn’t even last you one holiday and you have to be very economical.

We’re getting sick of shooting the same ‘hotspots’ in Singapore, care to share where your weekend escapades take you to?

All sorts of places. Orchard Road, Buang-kok, vegetable farms in Sungei Tengah, and crab farms in Seletar.

Hmm so can we say that you’re more inclined to shooting nature? But we’ve noticed you in action at Starry Night too!

Starry Night was quite interesting. I like taking performances because the

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conditions keep changing. With all that dynamism, you can never expect what’s going to happen. Because although you’ve seen the rehearsal, at the actual event, the lighting and the whole atmosphere could be very different. I’ve done that for dance performances by Ballare.

I also like taking performances because you cannot replicate the shot. That mo-ment will not pause and rewind for you. Also, with performances I can capture emotions of the performers, which I enjoy because it’s quite a challenge. The same goes for sports.

So you enjoy being challenged by cap-turing the dynamism in a photo, but what about the other ‘non-challenging’ types of photography, like street or nature?

Yeah I mean I think it’s a good way to learn. And to me, it’s not really challenging per

se. It’s interesting. For instance, when I’m at performances, I have to make certain decisions. Should I shoot from below or at eye level? When the person is moving, posing or in mid-step? How can I capture movement so that it works for the shot, or makes the shot look better than it really is? These are the things that I find interesting.

I also like taking nature, but if you make a mistake you can always go back and take it. For street photography, it forces me to anticipate when and which moment to shoot. When I see a person interacting with someone else or passing by, I have to know at which point something inter-esting is going to happen. So to me, no matter where I go out to shoot something it’s always something different, and that makes it all fun and exciting.

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If you had to take a photo that captures the spirit of SMU, what would it be?

(Ponders) Hmmm.. I can’t think of one right now. Well, in SMU there is a lot of activity, whether it is in the classroom or after class, so I guess I would try to capture all that liveliness in a photo.

No kidding! We’re all busy and crammed for time during term. So what would you say to students out there who find great difficulty balancing school com-mitments and a desire to develop a new hobby, such as photography?

Just do it. If something is important to you or you have a passion for it, you’ll always make time for it, even if it’s for a couple of hours. You’ll wake up at 4am even if you want to go out and get a good shot of the sunrise. The same goes for work, you’d stay up late just to finish it right? Because it’s important to you.

For hobbies such as photography, you don’t have to force yourself to do anything you don’t want to, unlike work! You don’t have to force yourself to go out and shoot every Saturday, just kind of go with the

flow. There days where I have to attend an event and I say, ‘I don’t want to be the pho-tographer because I’m not in the mood to shoot anything’. So I don’t. Maybe I’ll just bring my PNS(‘point and shoot’) camera and take a few shots. You have to find it fun. That’s what hobbies are for, right?

So any last words for the busy bees out there?

I feel that more students in SMU should learn the basics of photography, and SMUSAIC can do more by offering more workshops, to share some tips and skills with students. Why I say that is because a lot of SMU students go for exchanges and no doubt you would want to take beauti-ful shots right? Some students may not know enough about composition, or how to make a shot work, so it seems such a waste that they can’t capture the beauty of the places they’re at so they can re-member it forever.

Text by Steffie Gan. Photography by Winston Koh.

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1. SMU Arts Festival ‘102. Holland V. Photoshoot3. LOVE Exhibition

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SMUArtsFestival‘10What is Arts Fest to me?

An audacious venture to con-jure a festival, out of thin air. The tenacity displayed by perform-ers, who rehearse hours just for that short period of show-time on stage. That sense of pride in running a successful festival, comparable to any full-fledged performing arts organization.

Just bringing Arts Fest closer to you has become something close to my heart. Not the easi-est, but a worthy cause all the same.

Text by Ken Chang. Photography by Ooi Yao Min, Pearlicia Chan, Chua Chang Loong, Gabriel Pang, Hendry Poh.

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“I’m looking for something I’ve never seen before,” when asked why I chose to attend the Holland Village Photo Marathon.

Yes, a marathon. Five hours at the mercy of the midday sun, lugging my trusty camera, and roaming the pavements and the streets - it was exhausting.

But I found what I was looking for. Behind the facade of cafes and pubs that line the roads, there HDB blocks that tower over the little enclave that is Holland Village. Secluded one-room flats. A dash of yellow paint splashed across the door. Quiet and dusty corners. A cemetery.

All is still - a stark contrast to the hive of activity we so often play witness too.










Text by Steffie Gan. Photography by Chloe Loh (1), Kei Ng (2-5), Bevan Tan (6), Michael Ng (7) and Eileen Tay (8)

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Love is timeless. No, I don’t mean forever. Is the number of years, months and days, you shared with your other half even sig-nificant? If you did some quiet reflecting about the major events that marked your relationship, I’m sure the anniversaries you celebrated together are not the first things that pop into your mind.

It’s how everything around you dissolves into nothingness the moment he walks into a room. As if time stopped just for him. It’s when you while time away, doing abso-lutely nothing but enjoying his company. As if time didn’t exist. It’s when he waits for you till your class or

LOVEExhibitionmeeting ends, waits whenever you’re late for your dates, anxiously awaiting his re-plies to your text messages. As if time suddenly slowed down.

Love is timeless in this way – because you keep these moments alive, long after they have passed.

Text by Steffie Gan. Photography by Janet Choo, Germaine Chua, Jenn Lim, Carissa Toh, Basil Teo (Grp 1); Pearlicia Chan, Xiao Yong, Ho Chuen Full, Haja Mohaideen, Divya Gupta, Tay Wei Kiat (Grp 2); Nisha Narendar Jhangiani, Chloe Tan (Grp 3); Hu Jiaming, Au Yong Hong Jun (Grp 4)

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GadgetsText by Chong Hong Hao

THE FUNIntroducing the Lomography Splitzer! Slide it in and watch as your images are split in half, diced into quarters, and even eights, with each click of the shutter. Consisting of two spinning blades, the Splitzer exposes only certain portions of your image, result-ing in playful and kooky shots. Just shoot, hit the multiple exposure switch, turn the Splitzer, and shoot again! Easy enough? We think so too. Note: not designed to work with the original Lomo LC-A.

THE FLASHYGoing underwater? The Liquid image HD320 Camera Mask is a 5MP camera, capable of withstanding depths up to 35 meters. And here’s the catch – it’s completely hands-free! It comes equipped with spotlights and crosshairs embedded in the glass (for lining up shots) for you to capture vibrant pictures and videos. Goodbye dark and fuzzy pictures!

THE COOLTaking candid pictures is sometimes difficult when your subjects know you’re about to take a photo, but not with this lens! While it seems like the camera is focused on subjects straight ahead, the Super-Secret Spy Lens can be rotated so that you’re actually shooting to the left, right, up and down instead - now that’s seriously sneaky! Note: designed to fit on most SLR lenses.

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The Ones We Love is a project highlighting young and talented photographers from around the world. Each artist contributes six photographs of the person(s) who is most important to them, taken outdoors in a natural setting. Wade through the hundreds of photographs and find your-self intimately connected with the pho-tographer and the people closest to his or her heart.


ILOVETHATPHOTO is an online photogra-phy magazine which gives lesser known photographers the opportunity to display their work. Read through the many photographer interviews to uncover the story behind pictures that speak a thou-sand words.


A photo blog for the Boston Globe, The Big Picture highlights high-quality, amaz-ing imagery with a focus on current events, lesser-known stories and, well, just about anything.


Set up by Jeff Hamada from Vancouver, this blog is your one stop destination for all things creative: photography, art, music, film and more.


Text by Rachel Teo

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LOMOGRAPHY!Over-saturated colours. Off-kilter exposure. Happy ac-cidents. Alternative film processing. Above all, spon-taneity. These are the elements that make up Lomog-raphy - a casual, snapshot aspect of photography (and no, they are not Polaroids!)

Text & Photography by Rachel Teo & Chong Hong HaoAdditional Photography by Kelly Leow

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It all began when two students in Austria discovered a small and mysterious camera, the Lomo Kompakt Automat, and started a new style of artistic experimental pho-tography. What began as a spontaneous underground approach to photography in Vienna, soon spread like wild-fire all over the world. All in due time, a contract was negotiated, and Lomography started dis-tributing cameras world-wide.

Since then, Lomography has captured hearts and minds of thousands with its unusual combination of lo-tech and hi-tech. It’s online community is ever-growing and features a collection of the wackiest, most exciting and most impossible sights and moments captured today.

Lomography is happening in the here and now. Join the community today at lomography.com.

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HOLGAThe Holga is a medium format, 120 film toy camera, appreciated for its low-fidelity aesthetic. The Holga’s cheap construction and simple meniscus lens often yields pictures that display vignettes, blurring, light leaks, and other distortions. These so called camera quality ‘problems’ have become a virtue to many a photographer. When it comes to Lomography, imperfec-tion is beauty.

SUPER SAMPLERKnown as the ‘Queen of all multi-lensed cameras’, the Supersampler is an ultra-lightweight, low maintenance 35 mm camera ideal for spontaneous shooting.

Pull the rip-cord and it will slice a moving object into four panoramic panels, freez-ing it in the midst of hyperactive motion. Alternatively, while shooting a still object, move, shake and twist the camera around and anticipate the unpredictable effects.

FISHEYEThe Fisheye captures 180-degrees of your surrounding environment, yielding a nearly circular shot on a rectangular image. Light, compact and easy for pocket-carrying, the Fisheye will stun you with breathtak-ingly distorted images.


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10 Golden Rules of Lomography

• Take your camera everywhere you go

• Use it any time – day and night

• Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it

• Try the shot from the hip

• Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible

• Don’t think

• Be fast

• You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film

• Afterwards either

• Don’t worry about any rules

TECHNIQUE:CROSS-PROCESSINGCross Processing is the procedure of deliberately processing photographic film in a chemical solution intended for a different type of film. The effect was discovered independently by many different photographers often by mistake! When developing your photos, simply tell the person at the counter that you would like it cross-processed.

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About SMUSAIC & Drycab

Photography captures both the visible and invisible, spans the entirety of real-ity and fantasy, and engages emotions and logic all at once. We believe that the pursuit of photographic excellence need not, and should not, occur in a vacuum. We understand that there is much to gain from the collective crea-tive energy and exploration as a team.

SMUSAIC is many things to many peo-ple. It is the eyes and brains of a critical but supportive and nurturing entity; it is a source of confidence to take on our dreams; it is the stretch we need for our personal abilities and boundaries. Since our formation in the early days of SMU, we have remained committed to pro-moting photographic literacy, passion and appreciation. Through a wide vari-ety of events, we seek to provoke and inspire styles, visions and purpose in photography. Our activities stretch over a medley of photography styles, from studio and street to photojournalism and portraiture. All this is possible only with the commitment and contribution of an inspired team.

Bounding Region




As SMUSAIC’s very own photographic stu-dio, DryCab is the all-important nexus of all our creative efforts. We play photographic mad-scientists to sharpen our understand-ing of colour and light and the absence of both; we plan experimental field-trips as students and mentors alike; we dream up collaborative projects within and beyond our club. You are warmly welcome to join us in our experiments and events!