Having known these boys for quite a while in virtual space, the first time we met to explore and take photos felt like a reunion of sorts. Granted, being around talented photographers like themselves was slightly (very) unnerving at first, it was barely a minute before I sensed that there was no pressure. They weren't about to judge me for taking a bad photo... I hope. We were there to have fun. And express ourselves through photography.
Despite a not too friendly looking dog and a big, yellow patrol-car-sized hindrance that hampered our initial plan of visiting the former Kallang Airport, no one seemed to be overly dismal. A couple of seconds were spent brainstorming and we were off to another place to discover. Here's a lesson in emotional investment - don't attach yourself to circumstances that are out of your control (or, as I often like to tell my mother, take a chill pill).
A very short drive away was the sleepy neighbourhood of Dakota Crescent - one of Singapore's oldest housing estates, built in the 1950s. It's home to one of those cool '70s mosaic playgrounds that no hipster could possibly live without seeing... but unfortunately not for too long. Poor hipsters. This area is due for a total redevelopment beginning end-2016, and as a result many of the homes have already been vacated.
I have a tendency to feign ignorance when it comes to wandering into places where I don't belong. My policy, one that seems to be working well for the others too, is that if it ain't locked... just walk right in. Makes sense, doesn't it? If you really weren't meant to be somewhere, someone would have done a better job at making sure of this. Right? Right. Of this, I am convinced. It adds to the adventure and to your adrenaline, making for a pretty bad-ass story to tell your friends.
Stepping into these once-occupied homes felt like entering a purgatory-like twilight zone. The dust-caked floors, walls and ceilings were stripped, like bare skin, but skin left with scars - a diary dated 1978, faded Chinese talisman posters, a rickety crystal chandelier - reminders of an inhabited past. What struck me the most was the moody evening light that filtered in with such dramatic flair... the 感觉 was real. And for a photographer, it was the perfect light situation for portraits. Perfect.
I hope you feel inspired by the results of our little excursion. Big thank you to my Vogue-Hommes-worthy models Ameerul, Calvin and Winson (be sure to follow their impeccable feeds if you aren't already) for reminding me why I started taking photos in the first place - it's a form of beauty, a form of expression, a form of freedom. I finally see the light again (good wordplay, eh?). Looking forward to our next photo-spin and more lessons to be learnt from these free spirits.