Winning shot of Clarke Quay by first prize winner, Ray Ang
Winning shot of Clarke Quay by first prize winner, Ray Ang; The CapitaLand-National Geographic Channel “Building People” Photography Competition 2013 attracted a record of over 3,000 entries across the Asia Pacific including Australia, Brunei, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

The excitement was building up with every passing moment as crowds streamed in for the opening ceremony of the “Building People” Photography Exhibition on 16 August. It opened with a bang with the prize presentation for the “Building People” Photography Competition, which was organised for the fourth consecutive year by CapitaLand and National Geographic Channel.

A record of over 3,000 submissions were received from photography enthusiasts across the Asia Pacific including Australia, Brunei, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. And for the first time, the competition introduced a duo-themed feature – “Best Building Moment” and “Best People Moment”.

Mr Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited, said, “We are pleased to see that the new duo-theme feature resulted in more creative interpretations of CapitaLand’s properties and a record of more than 3,000 submissions from photography enthusiasts from Asia Pacific. In line with its credo of ‘Building People’, CapitaLand is committed to nurturing talent."

Mr Tan reminded that buildings often serve as a backdrop for many of life’s memorable moments and this year’s photograph entries aptly portray the extraordinary relationship between people and buildings by capturing the human connection through delightful experiences. "This resonates with our belief that a good building must possess both quality and the ability to enhance and enrich the lives of its surrounding communities,” he added.

Capturing Precious Moments

Despite the overwhelming competition, Ray Ang managed to beat the odds to emerge as top winner. An auditor turned wedding videographer, he has only started dabbling with photography two years ago. Hence, the victory, a first for him, came totally unexpected. “I was in disbelief when they announced the third and second prize, and thought that they made a mistake. I dared not move until I saw my picture and heard my name being announced. I’m still in shock!” Ang gushed.

His winning photo won the judges over because it captured both the pure delight of a child playing with a bubble-spray gun, and the energy of the Clarke Quay vicinity. By a stroke of luck, the photo was snapped at the right instant when an iridescent soap bubble framed the Clarke Quay signage perfectly.

“It’s a lucky shot because of the unpredictable bubble movement and my nephew’s position. He was quite playful. He ran around and charged at me, so it was quite a challenge getting this shot,” shared Ang. “This year’s duo-theme challenged me to capture both people and buildings together in a single shot. Based on the homework that I did, motion and reflection were quite commonly used in the ways to present buildings in the past two years’ entries, hence I thought of using the bubble concept.”

Ang won for himself a three-day National Geographic assignment trip to China under the mentorship of renowned National Geographic Photographer Mr Michael Yamashita, amongst other prizes.

Ang was not only the one who was caught by surprise that day. James Wong, who was taking part in his first competition, was reeling in from the euphoria of bagging three awards. “I am speechless because it was totally unexpected!” exclaimed Wong.

His shot of The Star Vista at the magical hour before sunrise won him second prize and “Best CapitaMall Photo”. The spectacular architecture was illuminated with the natural light from the sky, creating a beautiful feeling of tranquillity which was best encapsulated in the caption his daughter came up with: ‘Tranquillity away from the bustling life’.

In addition, Wong received special commendation for his photo taken at the site of Westgate, which showed construction workers at the worksite in black and white tones, whilst the artist’s impression of Westgate loomed behind in full colour. The photo captured both “Best Building Moment” and “Best People Moment”. Wong said, “I decided to shoot the beginning of a new building so as to reflect the hard work that goes on behind it.”

The Voters’ Choice Award was accorded to Edward Tian, whose love for photography was sparked off by the birth of his daughter two years ago. “Architectural photography has become my passion,” said Tian. “I chose Ascott Raffles Place Singapore because it is an iconic structure.”

Best Moments that Impressed

Apart from the sheer volume of entries in the competition this year, the high level of competence made judging a difficult task.

Renowned National Geographic Photographer Mr Michael Yamashita, one of the judges for the competition, said: “It has been both a pleasure and a challenge selecting the best visual narratives from a trove of urban stories told through these submissions. I am very impressed by the talents showcased in this region.”

“There were a lot of good entries and high level photography,” said Yamashita. “I judged the photos with the same criteria that my own photos are judged by: a combination of light, colour, composition and – moment. What I was looking for was impact. I wanted a picture that grabs your attention, a picture that compels you to want to look at it again. You need all of those elements to make a good picture.”

The judging process had been a rewarding experience for him as well. He shared, “In all my years of photography, I have never quite had the chance to capture architecture within urban cities and this experience has allowed me to view Asia from another perspective.”

Because Every Moment Matters

The contest also comprised of a staff category. Employees of CapitaLand were invited to snap photographs based on the theme Because iCare, a group-wide campaign to consolidate the organisation’s efforts to engage and build up its staff, stakeholders and the community. Selected submissions were displayed at the exhibition too.

First prize winner of the Because iCare Photo Story Contest, Sophian Abdul Rahman, Assistant Vice President, Capital Partners, CapitaLand Financial Limited snapped his winning shot on a whim. He recalled, “As I was walking past the art piece, I saw a framing that I liked, and I shot it. I guess I’ve grown up with the ‘old’ Plaza Singapura, and to continue to see the name still standing after all these years really gave meaning to the phrase ‘everlasting and strong brand’. I also thought the Jelly Baby Family represesented the CapitaLand family very well - we are all made up of all creed and colour, and behind us stands a very strong brand.”

Similarly inspired by an art piece was second prize winner Li Zheng Xin, Project Manager, Project Design, Development & Management, CapitaMalls Asia (South China). “When I was attending a course in the CLIMB Singapore (CapitaLand’s internal corporate learning institute), my eyes lit up when I saw this art piece,” Li recounted. “So I immediately took a photo of it with my camera, using the contrasting backlight to highlight the theme of a courageous persevering climber who courageously scales great heights.”

For third prize winner Zhou Xiao, Executive, Legal & Secretariat, CapitaLand China, the sight of her daughter listening attentively to her grandfather telling a story touched her hence she wanted to remember that moment. There was a deeper meaning to the photo, however. “Children are our most precious treasure. No matter what we do, we must not forget to show them our love and care,” shared Zhou. “ In the spirit of Building People and one of CapitaLand's core values - People , we should share our stories with our children and impart good values to them. As the Chinese saying goes, it takes ten years to grow a tree and a hundred years to bring up a generation of good people. By advocating good values and traits, there will be hope and a better future for the generations to come.”

Through the competition, CapitaLand’s credo of “Building People” had inspired and touched many, and moments captured would hold a timeless appeal because of the beautiful values they embody.

View shortlisted entries of “Building People” Photography Competition 2013 here: