From The Community

Committee Picks: Open Category

Choo Hao Xin

Like A Sparrow

As a creative in Singapore, our work sometimes may seem trivial. But as we strive in our own ways to improve and innovate, we can draw parallels to the tiny and cute sparrows. As a symbol of community and hard work. These small and almost seemingly insignificant birds still manage to find a way to thrive in the ecosystem despite their own tiny contributions. From keeping bug populations in check to helping flora and fauna to grow as seed spreaders, these sparrows also serve as a crucial part of the food chain for birds of prey as their food sources demonstrating the importanct of every link in the chain. Likewise, other than working for companies and doing good work for our clients, we also bear the responsibility to enhance the community around us by improving on our craft: which is to tell stories that enrich and inspire. As an avid photographer, stories from nature always humbled and inspire me. Probably due to my childhood and livestyle growing up in an urban jungle, nature always seem to find a way to inspire and educate. This is a shout out to the little guys, to the guys not at the top of the food chain.


As an editorial photographer, I have been looking at ways to inspire my photography and improve it by dabbling in the other genres of photography. At the beginning of last year, I let my interest in wildlife take over and took up birding as it is one of the more accessible wildlife on our tiny island. Stereotypes aside, I began to see it as an artform by understanding the subtle nuances we often miss out superficially. From finding the right environments, understanding their behavior to find the right spot within said environment, not to mention their range of movement which makes the experience all the sweeter when your efforts and research pays off with a meeting with the bird. After having researched, tracked and shot some birds, it struck me that isn’t the urban birds that prove to be more “adaptable” as they are not facing any issues with urbanisation and global warming. This lead me to my subject for entry, The sparrow. Seen as a symbol of hardwork and community, I thought that the sparrow draws a nice parallel to creatives. We are not in the limelight like the exotic birds but, depend on one another to thrive by bouncing ideas and collaboration and this made me think that it is something that is very relatable. As for coming up with this series, I thought that it would be good to try and showcase more “out of the norm” behavior of the birds. Like it grooms its wings, showing an anthropomorphic angry expression, or even a goofy shot of it with food in their mouth. A series of images will reflect their complex behavior better than just a single image. One fun tidbit is that due to their size, I have to get really up close to take their photos. But what makes it difficult is that they will seem to know when you are taking a picture and will make a break for it when your guard is let down. Not to mention sparrows are one of the fastest birds around.

About the Photographer

Other than an interest of the silver screen and documentaries seen on TV when young, I really got into photography/videography after completing my NS as I was embarking on a journey start my adulting life. After completing my degree in Visual communications, I started to work in a restaurant which started my photography journey in food, events and people. I then moved on to a wider scope when entering the publishing sector and the rest is history. The reason of still pursuing photography/videography would be in a passion in the artform, as well as getting the chance to tell stories of the people whom I have met. Rather than a “style” per se, I would rather say that my photography always tries to encompass aspects of the subject. To try and tell their stories as they are rather than an interpretation of what they are trying to say.

I think COVID has affected the world in many ways, not just superficially in terms of restrictions that makes shooting photos more inconvenient or lesser jobs. I think as a community, we will have to rethink on a deeper level how we should evolve our craft to stay relevant. For example, with smartphones, it already has almost eliminated the need of an everyday carry camera. Not that COVID is to blame, but I think that due to the impact it has on our lives, it has just accelerated circumstances. I hope that post montage, after getting more exposure on the platform, I would like to have a chance to collaborate with other photographers to just come together to create images that matter. Not the usual stencil like imagery on social media (it’s cool as a start but lets try to make something that matters on a deeper level.)