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The story behind that picture: "A new viewpoint on Singapore"

By: Thorsten Overgaard 


Never trust what you hear about a country or place till you have visited it yourself.

And let this be your first lesson in not taking my word for it. What I had heard about Singapore was that it was very strict, no littering in the streets and no smoking. People had told me it was VERY strict!

What I found was a relaxed city-state where people are smoking in the street, littering and even three-year-olds were cycling where it wasn’t permitted.

So much for prejudice.

What I saw was a fast-growing city-state of 12 million, a financial power-center with the ambition of growing it to 20 million people by 2020. By importing talented people from outside ... kind of the reverse viewpoint of Europe where the governments try to avoid people from outside to come in (which is basically a Marxist approach because it is founded in the idea that the resources and amount of work are a constant and should be shared and not expanded).

Whether Singapore as a city, has lost it's soul in this expansion and constant building of new office-, retail- and living spaces, is a question I asked myself.

But as always, when you get to know people in a place, the people you meet have the same basic values no matter the political system, the economy of the country or the weather: We want a decent life, healthy food, infrastructure that works, a good education for our children, safety in the streets and no war.

This happens to be true in all places, despite what government is in power, though in the West we seem to have governments that move further and further away from the actual needs and values, being more occupied with trying to decide how other states should perform their leadership.

With my limited knowledge of Singapore, my impression was that their government was respected and working on their own countries’ values and qualities.

But as said, never trust what you hear about a country or place till you have visited it yourself ...


Reason for my visit was two photography workshops that we did from a nice renovated building in Singapore. Here we are editing.

On the Sunday we had teenagers as models ...



Our photo workshop on a field trip to the island Pulau Ubin

Roadtrip USA


Will and his friends came with the workshop and acted as both models and talented photographers with their Leicas




A great number of men playing about money in the center of Singapore ...


Singapore is a modern city, with some historic attachments though ...

The neighbourhood of the workshop shot with the Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4

Bicycling teenagers and a single three-year-old girl through a tunnel where signs said you will get a 1,000$ fine for doing so.

You pay for parking, and if you need to park a whole day, you need to buy severeal tickets ...

Some times photographing is like fishing; you have to be patiently waiting ...

And some times fishing is like photographing ...

Some times life is like fishing ...


Singapore is also beautiful colors ...



Lively editing and discussion about the results back in the villa ... Student photos can be seen on this page on as well as on Facebook gallery.

The teenage editing section ...

The workshop looking at ways to edit in Lightroom ...

Visiting the Leica Store Singapore where we did a group photo with the store manager (in the center with all our cameras around her neck)


Singapore was stablished as a trading post under the East India Company in 1819, Singapore came under British colonial rule in 1867. Singapore rapidly grew to become the most important commercial center and naval base in Southeast Asia. After World War II, it became first a British Crown Colony in 1946 and then a self-governing state within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1959. Federated with Malaysia in 1963, it declared full independence in 1961. In terms of tonnage handled, Singapore's port is the world's busiest.

Singapore is fast expanding. New buildings are growing up everywhere and thrity year old buildings are not considered current

Surveillance is taken serious. Singapore was supposed to have been attacked on 9/11 but here it was prevented.


In terms of photography, every new place offers an unique viewpoint. As Henry Miller have said, “One’s destination is never a place,but a new way of seeing things” which is a truth I shall return to as I will cover Nepal and Louisiana in coming articles.

For future seminars in Hong Kong and Singapore, have a look in the updated calendar.


Thorsten Overgaard, April 24, 2012




Above: Sophie from Zurich captured in Singapore while visiting with her mother. Leica M9 and Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II









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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.

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