Journey with aspiring photojournalist Geng Hui Tan as he turns his lens on Singapore’s older landmarks, capturing the history of these buildings and archiving heritage before they disappear to make room for re-development

In life, the only constant is change. It’s only when something is gone from our lives that we miss them. In Singapore, the changes over the years come so fast and furious that it had made me decide to document and keep alive the memories of our neighbourhoods, landmarks, heritage and culture. 

EOS-1D X | F/16 | ISO 160 | 1/125s

I have been documenting old places in Singapore by photographing them over the years, starting with a Canon EOS 30D, followed by EOS-1D Mark III and EOS 70D. Currently, I’m using a Canon EOS-1D X, my workhorse camera for my photography requirements.

EOS-1D X | F/17 | ISO 100 | 1/125s

There are two areas in Singapore that will be inevitably changed through re-development – the colourful block that is Rochor Centre and the old SIT flats of Dakota Crescent. I’ve visited both places over the past few years with my camera. This year could be the last time that I can do so before they are torn down.

EOS-1D X | F/8 | ISO 160 | 1/125s

EOS-1D X | F/16 | ISO 100 | 1/125s

For heritage, old places, buildings photography, I would make a few trips to scout out the location at different times of the day to get a feel of the surroundings. I observe where the natural light and shadows hit and when the crowd gathers there. Once I’m satisfied with my research, I then fix a day and time to visit it again to photograph the place. 

EOS-1D X | F/5.6 | ISO 160 | 1/60s

Weather plays a part too. If the sky is dull and overcast, I might reschedule the shoot to another day.

I returned to Rochor Centre and Dakota Crescent to walk around these two older neighbourhoods. Viewing from all possible angles, I photographed the buildings from different perspectives to capture the vibe of these places. 

EOS-1D X | F/11 | ISO 100 | 1/125s

EOS-1D X | F/8 | ISO 100 | 1/125s

EOS-1D X | F/11 | ISO 125 | 1/125s

My Canon cameras and lenses setup for this heritage photo walk is Canon EOS-1D X with EF17-40mm f/4L USM lens. This is a full frame DSLR camera with a wide-angle zoom lens. 

Personally, I like this combination, which is ideal and great for landscape shots. Photographers who are keen to own a full frame Canon DSLR can also consider the Canon EOS 5DS R, EOS 5DS, EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 6D.

EOS-1D X | F/8 | ISO 100 | 1/125s

EOS-1D X | F/8 | ISO 100 | 1/125s

In any shoot, there will always be challenges and constraints. Thus, when photographing places and buildings with residents, do be very mindful and sensitive of their privacy. Avoid intruding or trespassing private property.

EOS-1D X | F/8 | ISO 100 | 1/125s

As a photographer trying to preserve the history, heritage and conservation of old buildings through my lens, these photographs will become nostalgic memories for all who live and grew up in Singapore over the decades of change.