From The Community

Committee Picks: Open Category

Edmund Chew

The Giver

This is my Aunt. My Dad's eldest sister. 75-year-old. Unmarried. Down-to-earth. I call her 大姑.

Throughout my life, people have told me that she probably is and will be the nicest aunt who ever lived. I agree and to me, she is just as important as my mother and father. She bought me many things during my younger days, including my first laptop.

大姑 is an anxious person. She worries about us a lot. During the circuit breaker period, she called every day to check if my brother and I were home. If we failed to return her calls, she would become even more fearful.

She still enjoys watching and listening to operas. Sometimes, we play Mahjong with her. If she won, she would insist on using her winnings to buy dinner for the family.

大姑 has made me realised that there truly is joy to giving. I wish her the longest and happiest life.


  • Tell us more about what inspired your entry?
    I only got to know this competition this year when I chanced upon its post on Instagram. When I saw the theme, though I knew that I could use old photos taken, I felt that I should shoot something new.

    I started thinking of the people I care most in my life, and my aunt just came into my mind.

  • How does your entry connect to you personally to the theme This Is My Story?
    My aunt has always been an important figure in my life. She dotes on my brother and me a lot and what touches me the most is her constant worries for us. My parents always say that we have to take care of her when she grows older. She has given too much to her loved ones around her. Hence, I wanted to do a series that encapsulates her daily lives and I thought it would be a nice moment with her. It's my very first time doing a photo series on her as well.

  • How did you conceptualise your shot? Did you use any specific techniques to achieve certain effects in your shot?
    As my aunt often stays at home. I thought that would be the place that would make her feel the most natural. I always remember her room that's filled with opera discs and cassettes. She would listen to her recorder every night before sleep. She likes looking and developing photo albums of her loved ones as well. She enjoys mahjong and it's not because she likes gambling but for the joy of playing with her loved ones. I told her that I would capture some photos of her and I don't want her to feel that she needs to look good. Her true self exudes spirit and that's what I need from her. Although I could do some retouching during the editing process, I did not do it because I know that she would look the best with authenticity.

  • Was there any external inspiration behind your shot that you have used as reference?
    In 2017, I won First Prize in one of the three themes 'Celebration' (Open Category) for Canon Photomarathon 2017. Back then, I photographed my maternal Aunt and Uncle. I felt an authentic side of their interaction in that photo, which I thought it's charming. Hence, I wanted to do something similar for my Aunt.

  • Obviously you are a photographer whose creative vision is not limited by your gear. Any advice for those starting out?
    I think a good photo is one that evokes emotion. Though it's always good to aim for unique composition and technical quality, I think it's more important to believe in your subject and/or environment. I think that a good photo can be produced with all kinds of cameras.

  • Why did you think that a series of photos would work better than a single photo?
    I don't think that a series is better than a single photo. It's just that what I wanted to express about my Aunt fits better with a narrative sequence. I've seen very strong single photo work from this year's submission.

  • From one photo to the next, perhaps can you explain the link between them?
    I arranged the photos in a way that I feel shows my Aunt's life sequentially. I have shot portrait shoots, such as weddings and families. I once had a mentor who told me that arranging the photos is also a key to narrate your moments well.

  • How did the use of post-processing enhance the storytelling ability of your entries?
    I edited only on the colours and exposure. I did not do much for colour wise because I want to make sure that everything, such skin tones looks natural.

  • If you had the chance to retake your shot(s), what would you do differently?
    Maybe. But I think the beauty of photography lies in the constant need for exploration and be in the moment. It's always lovely to capture a good photo that you didn't imagine you to do it.

About the Photographer

  • When, how, and why did you get into photography?
    I came from a film and video background. I self taught myself photography in late 2012 to train my sensitive towards composition, moments and people.

  • Do you define yourself by any particular style(s) of photography? If so, what are they and why?
    I see myself as a portrait photographer who aims to let people feel and learn something out of my subjects. Even without caption, I hope that they like seeing my subjects because I capture a genuine side of them.

  • How has your photographic journey been affected by COVID-19? Are you more inspired to take more photos? Have the restrictions hindered, or conversely enhanced your creativity?
    It’s been really bad during the Circuit breaker and I lost a lot of shoots in the span of two months. Even right now, most of the shoots are limited. Thanks to my fellow good friends from the industry, we help and encourage each other to stay strong. I definitely cherish any form of work now and aim to do better in photography.

  • What are your photographic goals after Montage 2020?
    I hope that I can always make someone feel better when he or she gets a chance to see my photos. I hope that there are more opportunities for me to be involved in bigger projects as well.