Reflections on GE2015

In GE 2011, I was of age to cast my virgin vote. I would say that I was relatively apathetic to politics — the real life issues on the ground mattered to me more than the mudslinging and much hyped-about Opposition rallies. I went for two rallies, and that was it. I casted my vote, and the Opposition in my constituency won five seats in Parliament. 

Fast forward four years later, when rumours of an imminent GE 2015 came about, I actually found myself interested in being in the thick of the action, experiencing and learning about this jubilee elections with my camera in tow. What had changed? Probably that photography became an extension of my being, and documenting the elections through my own lenses naturally became more appealing than reading the news through mainstream and social media channels. 

It was in trying to be as representative as possible – covering walkabouts, press conferences and rallies from both the Incumbent and the Opposition – that I realized how uncomfortable politics made me felt. 

I started questioning myself a lot more than usual. “Should I release this photograph of him looking so vulnerable? Will it hurt his party’s chances?” If I were a news photographer, and had to file photographs according to the newspaper’s agenda, that would have obliterated the problem I had when it came to selection of images. But in this case, photographing GE2015 was a means for me to make sense of the situation for myself. Politics is personal, and at the end of the day, I had to remember that I am first and foremost a citizen, journalist second; I had to guard my own personal inclinations. 

Also, that some politicians were a lot more media-saavy and really knew how to milk the media for its worth, it made me cringe. Cringe at how powerless I became behind the camera, unable to stop them from their performance. 

Can I find it in me to carry on photographing events like that? I’m not entirely convinced yet. Maybe I just need a break from the drama. Or perhaps I am just more comfortable photographing the hum-drum of everyday life and stories that are more real and raw.

In Edwin Koo’s words, “Politics, [afterall], is theatrical”. 

On Invisible Photographer Asia article on Singapore Photography, Pragmatism and the Political Landscape.

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