[DC]R[/DC]ankin and The Hunger recently teamed up with Talenthouse, a platform for creative collaboration, to help raise awareness for Heifer International.
Heifer International is a charity that helps families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. The organisation works to create an ever-expanding network of hope. They provide families with environmentally-sound agricultural training and give them gifts of livestock. In exchange, the families agree to give one of their animal’s offspring to another family in need.
In support for the organisation, Rankin and The Hunger recently invited aspiring photographers to submit images conveying what the word ‘hunger’ means to them through the lens of a camera.
The winning entry by Daylon Soh, shot inside an open air building in Chinatown, Singapore, captures a touching moment of vulnerability. Daylon Soh, who recently launched Open Brief – an online publication about creativity and culture in Asia – uses his camera as a tool for telling a story, whether fictional or journalistic.
We interviewed him to get an insight into both his work as a photographer and his involvement in other projects. Soon he will be travelling to Cambodia to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In the coming weeks, Soh’s winning photograph will be exhibited at the Fahey-Klein Gallery in Los Angeles.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS? WHAT OR WHO ENCOURAGED YOU TO START?
I can’t recall my earliest memory of taking photographs but I remember the time I fell in love with it. I was in Japan when I was 19 and everything there was fascinating – nature, culture and the people from the small towns of Hokkaido to the streets of Tokyo. To me photography was a means to record my experience then. And it also meant that I could be in the moment, without distraction.
FROM WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?
From film and documentaries.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH A CONCEPT FOR THE PHOTOGRAPH?
It wasn’t planned. I was on assignment to take photos of food hawkers in Singapore and I spotted an old man sleeping on the chair in the afternoon in the shade. I was worried right until the very moment I pressed the shutter, how would I react if he woke up from his slumber? My intuition told me he might have been homeless and poor but I didn’t realise he was actually suffering from malnutrition until a friend pointed out to me to look at the lumps on his feet when I shared the photo online.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE BEEN SELECTED BY RANKIN AS THE COMPETITION WINNER?
It has been an incredible honour to win and I’m thankful to be selected.
HOW DID YOU COMMUNICATE HEIFER INTERNATIONAL’S MISSION AND THE COMPETITION THEME OF ‘HUNGER’?
Singapore is a very wealthy city state with a strong social safety net even for the poor. Sometimes, because we live in relative comfort in our city, we tend to forget that there are still homeless and poor people who get left behind. People often overlook the fact that the fight to end poverty and hunger begins from home. Hunger is relative to ignorance.
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND YOUR PHOTOGRAPH?
The photo was shot inside an open air building in Chinatown segregated for small shops and hawker stalls. I tried to build upon the story of this stranger when framing the shot. Clearly it was a moment of vulnerability which the subject shared even when he was dreaming. And his belongings (and possibly his entire worldly possessions) were just beside him juxtaposed against this clean environment. The sign “Basement Market” added to the irony while the Mandarin characters added some textural context to the setting.
IS THERE A PARTICULAR STYLE OR SUBJECT MATTER THAT YOU MOST LIKE TO SHOOT WHEN YOU ARE NOT BOUND BY COMPETITION GUIDELINES?
I’ve always thought that using the camera to record reality is the right way. I’m less inclined to believe it these days especially after studying film and cinema. The image serves to forward the story and trigger an emotional response, which perhaps words cannot express as eloquently. The camera has now become a tool for me to tell a story, whether it’s done in the name of fiction or journalism.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS?
I do design and write. And my interest in journalistic writing has led me to start OpenBrief, an online publication about creativity and culture in Asia.
WHAT WILL YOU BE WORKING ON NEXT?
I’m slated for a two week trip to Cambodia soon. I’m covering Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) volunteers working on improving healthcare, education and agriculture activities in the villages. I’ll most likely be posting some of the photos on my site after the trip.
Find out more about Daylon Soh and his photography on his website.