Your Stories

Youth Category, Honourable Mention

Tan Zi Jie

"I live for moments like this."

Taken on film.

I am always unsure of my decisions and direction in life, but only during moments like this, in that split second when rays of sunlight hit the concrete slab, that I am totally clear of what to do. To press the shutter without any hesitation.

Although it may be a common practice to capture a couple of shots at a go, for some reason I only had 1 shot taken at this particular scene. Unsure why I did that, but perhaps this is just the way in life, where we only have 1 chance to capture a moment. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.


  • Tell us more about what inspired your entry?
    I went all the way to Malaysia, Ipoh, to visit my friend whom was holding the opening ceremony of her bookstore. It was located at Tin Alley, a refurbished building. While exploring the place, I spotted an old film camera on the bench and was wondering if it still works. Then just happened that rays of sunlight hit the area right in front of my eyes and I found the view pretty. Instinctively, I took out my film camera to take a picture of it.

  • How does your entry connect to you personally to the theme This Is My Story?
    This is the most memorable photo in the whole roll of film which was taken in Malaysia. I visited Ipoh with the sole purpose of visiting my friend and I planned to take many pictures of her and the opening ceremony. Despite remembering that I had taken several photos throughout my visit, I was shocked to realise that I only have one single photo taken in that building. And oddly enough, I also did not take multiple shots at the same location to ensure that a good shot was captured. This whole encounter had allowed me to reflect on my life.

    When compared to my friends whom have clear goals in life, I always felt lost and unsure of my decisions. But when it comes to photography, it seems like I have more control over things and I can act on my instincts when taking photos. At the same time, photography or film photography also made me realise how things in reality may not always go accordingly to our plans and expectations. And more often than not, we only have one chance to take action. Once we missed that opportunity, we may not encounter it ever again. I think this photo serves as a good reminder for me to live in the moment and be brave enough to embrace any opportunities that I come across.

  • Obviously you are a photographer whose creative vision is not limited by your gear. Any advice for those starting out?
    Just take anything that interest you. You won’t regret it.

  • How did the use of post-processing enhance the storytelling ability of your entries?
    I really like the raw film photo and felt that extensive enhancements are unnecessary. I only did minor edits to the photo using Instagram, to allow the photo to have a better focus.

  • If you had the chance to retake your shot(s), what would you do differently?
    Instead of just taking a single shot, I will probably continue to take more shots from different angles. Perhaps, I can make it into a photo series as well, to depict changes in the lighting.

About the Photographer

  • When, how, and why did you get into photography?
    Due to the improvements in phone camera quality and the popularity of social media, I started taking and sharing more photos in my daily life, and photography soon became an essential part of my life. In school, I was also an event photographer briefly and that opportunity had exposed me to more aspects of photography. I like photography because it allows me to lose myself in the moment.

  • Do you define yourself by any particular style(s) of photography? If so, what are they and why?
    I like film photography, and especially black and white film. I think there is something more appealing about B&W film photography, which I cannot explain. However, I am not looking at achieving any particular style yet.

  • 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?
    Yes, COVID has affected me mentally and physically as we are constraint to indoor environment. I did not take any photo with my film camera during this period. However, I did have more time to look through the old photos I have taken previously.

  • What are your photographic goals after Montage 2020?
    I have never participated in any photography competition before Montage 2020. Getting an Honorary Mention is a great encouragement for me to continue my photography journey and share my works with more people.