Your Stories

Youth Category, Third Place

Gautham Siddarth

People continue to judge those who do not look like them. It has existed since the dawn of mankind and exists till today.

Even though we are a modern society we still get the stares and displays of discomfort by people who realise that we look different from them. Like how every finger on one’s hand is not the same, I learnt it is impossible for every human to be the same no matter how hard one tries.

This is something I grew up facing and witnessing first hand as a minority in Singapore and struggled a lot to come to terms with. I have always tried to change myself to fit in with the rest. Eventually, I grew tired of the facade and began embracing who I was in my own skin. And now, none of these judgements bother me anymore, because I am proud to be who I was born to be and this is my story.


  • Tell us more about what inspired your entry?
    The inspiration behind this photo – is the reality that minorities go through and feel innately growing up in Singapore, as much as it is a multi-racial country that cooperates and is encouraged to not discriminate anyone of another race, there are many instances in which the minority races in Singapore go through stereotypes, racial slurs, and several forms of discrimination that makes us aware of the differences we have for looking different than the majority. I wanted to capture that in one frame to show how ‘outcasted’ a minority can feel to be in their own skin amongst society. The keyword and theme I followed was also the term ‘outcast’, which is why the model is dressed in a traditional classical dance costume, in the middle of the road with an oncoming traffic of people – to be amongst the crowd, yet still feel all alone regardless.

  • How does your entry connect to you personally to the theme This Is My Story?
    The theme of This Is My Story relates aptly to me, because I too have faced and grew up through all this discrimination and feeling outcasted by people that form the majority. Thus, my frustration and sentiments towards this matter, that has affected me growing up – is what connects the photo and I, as it is a story I had to use this platform to share.

  • How did you conceptualise your shot? Did you use any specific techniques to achieve certain effects in your shot?
    The image and keyword I locked – ‘outcast’ gave me the mental image of the model being in the middle of a crowd, with a pained expression, and as the days went by and walking in the streets thinking about this concept – while crossing a busy traffic light, I had the conceptualization of placing a fully traditionally dressed model in the middle of such a road crossing. We had to do the shots a few times to capture the perfect one, which involved trial and error as this photo involves the unassuming public that cannot be controlled nor instructed. We got the shot after a few tries of waiting for the traffic light to go green, after-which the model and I would run to the middle to strike the pose and start clicking.

  • How did the use of post-processing enhance the storytelling ability of your entries?
    Post-processing involved mainly placing more emphasis on the model and her outfit, and to tone down the remaining multitude of colors that the oncoming traffic of the public all wore – to give a more balance and easy to look at-and-infer image. We also added more balancing of the exposure and shadows, to even them out too. Overall the editing, helped to make the image much more clear, simple and well balanced overall in terms of the focus of the picture. The lesser the distraction that the image has, the more time and clarity the picture can have for the audience to grasp and comprehend this important social message and story.

  • If you had the chance to retake your shot(s), what would you do differently?
    Perhaps, I would shoot when it is not that sunny, as the sun did give more than necessary shadows and light in one direction that had to be balanced out in editing – thus if I could do it again, I would pick a timing or wait for a better timing in which the sunlight is more neutral and not glaring.

About the Photographer

  • When, how, and why did you get into photography?
    I have always been interested in storytelling in general, mainly in the cinematic medium of filmmaking, being an ardent movie buff. I got into photography more by working in a team of photographers/videographers called’ Vindsanity’, as we work together to create and tell more stories through different forms and mediums.

  • Do you define yourself by any particular style(s) of photography? If so, what are they and why?
    I believe I am quite versatile when it comes to photography as it depends on my mood and purpose of the shoot – different shoots require different styles, and I am very experimental when it comes to customizing it accordingly.

  • 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?
    My photographic journey was definitely affected by COVID-19, as Singapore announced the circuit breaker measures shortly after, which disallowed my team and I from continuing our projects, including my photography ideas which I had already spoken to a few models for. However, it forced my team and I to get creative and use unorthodox forms of shoots during the circuit breaker such as a virtual photoshoot/webcam photoshoot and etc., which was challenging in its own right, but fun, nonetheless. Creativity cannot be contained!

  • What are your photographic goals after Montage 2020?
    I wish to tell more stories that need to be told, especially if they are important social issues as I believe art can inspire and create movements to empower people whether they are movies or a simple single frame of a photo, If done well – it will resonate and make an impact. Thus, I will continue in this path to get creative, provide the audience with a new perspective both visually and mentally and to continue challenging myself!

Judges' Comments

  • Geoff Ang: Nice use of post-production techniques and treatment.

  • Alexander Ow: Photograph demonstrates a yearning for a world without strangers and prejudice, and we certainly need much more love in our world!

  • Elliot Lee: This is a good shot. I thought about whether it could go with a tighter crop or wider crop, but I realise a tighter shot might cut off the context and wider shot might risk people missing the main character and story. So the photographer made a good call in my opinion. The photo also made good use of composing through colors by letting the red draw attention. And this flows perfectly with its story about standing out and being proud of oneself.