Your Stories

Youth Category, Second Place

Nur Rafiqah Binte Zil Husham

Integrity vs despair • at this point of the developmental stage, individuals would look back on the events of their lives and determine if they’d led a happy life.

When I was much younger, I used to quarrel with my other siblings to see who could climb up the gate, to press the door bell of my grandparents house. Till today, my grandfather would always be the one who opens the door to welcome us whenever we’re visiting and I’d always remember that warm smile on his face behind that wooden door.

At 92, he had experienced so many things in life but still stood strong despite the challenges he faced.

He’s one of the few that motivates me to strive for the best and continue working hard in everything I do in life. I want to make him proud.


  • Tell us more about what inspired your entry?
    I was brainstorming and trying to come up with different ideas for my entry. But due to the restrictions in place due to this pandemic, I challenged myself to play around with my own surrounding environment to take the best shot. Coincidentally, I was at my grandparent’s place when an idea came up. I have always had that thought of wanting to capture moments of my grandfather knowing that his days are left numbered. It has been quite some time since I’ve seen him due to the circuit breaker, so I took the opportunity then to take those photos, not knowing when I will see him next.

  • How does your entry connect to you personally to the theme This Is My Story?
    With the theme This Is My Story, I felt that only my family members and close relatives could relate to the entire story, but some may be able to relate to parts of the story. No matter how similar an experience 2 individuals share in life, no one ever shares the same story. So, I took the opportunity to share a story of my grandfather, to hopefully allow one to think about their own experiences with their grandfathers and reminiscence a memory they once shared together.

  • How did you conceptualise your shot? Did you use any specific techniques to achieve certain effects in your shot?
    I made sure that I captured in a candid nature and solely playing with angles to get what I presume as the best shot. I didn’t want my grandfather to pose/model for them because I will feel that the shots scripted in order to impress my audiences.

  • Was there any external inspiration behind your shot that you have used as reference?
    I’ve scrolled through different photography accounts on Instagram and got the idea of exploring the different camera angles and learning how to make full use of the square frame for the pictures I’ve taken.

  • Obviously you are a photographer whose creative vision is not limited by your gear. Any advice for those starting out?
    Most of the time, you are bound to feel disappointed that a photo you’ve taken didn’t turn out as nice as it would be. You might start to compare the photos you’ve taken with other photos taken from a DSLR or any professional camera taken by someone else. A photo does not necessarily have to be taken with the best and expensive cameras. Don’t be discouraged because you can always look for inspirations of photos taken by smartphones on social media and there is plenty. Personally, I post them up on social media to see how I can and have improved. Try to play around with the different camera angles and soon enough, you will find people who compliments you of the photos you’ve taken.

  • Why did you think that a series of photos would work better than a single photo?
    I feel that a single photo didn’t really capture the entire story I was trying to share. Having more than one photo could help elevate the meaning behind my captions.

  • From one photo to the next, perhaps can you explain the link between them?
    The first photo relates to the part of the story where I was sharing about how my grandfather would always be the one who opens the door when someone comes to visits. I am still thankful that he can remember my name and wishes my happy birthday every year. Despite his old age, he is capable of performing activities of daily living with minimal support as seen in the second photo. He frequents the market and often wakes up early to get breakfast on his own. Having worked for more than 20 years in his previous company before retirement, as seen in the third photo, he deserves to live the remaining days of his life doing what makes him happy. The photo series wouldn’t be complete with a portrait of the main character of this story, right? 😊

  • How did the use of post-processing enhance the storytelling ability of your entries?
    By strengthening the shadows and lightening the brightness, it gives depth to the pictures taken. With this, I hoped that the same depth was felt through the captions.

  • If you had the chance to retake your shot(s), what would you do differently?
    I would ensure that the angles of the photos taken would include more natural lighting.

About the Photographer

  • When, how, and why did you get into photography?
    I started gaining interest in photography when I was 14 as I was influenced by my dad. He owns a DSLR and brings them out to take photos during family functions and celebrations. Photos are not just 2-Dimensional. Photos taken are based on interpretation and perspective and I wanted to challenge that of one’s mindset. Then, I could only rely on the camera function on my phone to capture moments and smiles. I turned to photography as a way for me to keep beautiful and precious memories that could easily be forgotten as years past. Looking at how photos could last for years and reminds me of those experiences I once lived, I started to actively take photos at every possible opportunity of memories that I want to constantly be reminded of.

  • Do you define yourself by any particular style(s) of photography? If so, what are they and why?
    I would say that I define myself with a mixture of both portrait photography and photojournalism as my preferred photography style. I always want my photos to tell a story, like a visual representation of a storybook. And in a story, the portrait of the individual is very important as this person is the main character. Without the main character, the story does not make sense.

  • 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?
    Honestly, my photographic journey is largely contributed by actively volunteering in events as a photographer. I felt that it was the only avenue could develop myself professionally in the world of photography by being on the ground.

    I used to often volunteer as a photographer for school events back when I was in polytechnic and it is always heartwarming to see people happy and smiling for the camera. I find great joy in doing that, but I no longer can, at least, for now. Being a freshmen student in university, I have yet to find opportunities like this because of the restrictions that have put events and gatherings on hold. But hopefully, once the restrictions are lifted and events can take place, maybe then I could go back to volunteering as a photographer again.

  • What are your photographic goals after Montage 2020?
    I would want to continue developing my photography skills more professionally by exploring different photography styles, not restricted by one. I do have an interest in travel photography but have yet to explored on that. So maybe once the borders are open and I can travel again, that would be the first thing on my list that I want to experience.

Judges' Comments

  • Geoff Ang: You’ve got a great eye for composition... Very very well framed!

  • Alexander Ow: Good example of a journalistic approach to the global aging issue which is even more prominent in the current COVID-19 global pandemic.

  • Elliot Lee: I love how visually emotive the series is. Even without reading the caption, you can tell the photographer feels a lot about this person. Notice the photographer's composition of the story through the pictures, starting with establishing context in the first shot and ending with an intimate portrait. And then there are the little details here and there. What the photographer could do better perhaps is maybe include one or two more shots; maybe some that could narrate his caption further or better.