As her neighbours shuffled past the void deck at Block 90 Pipit Road on a humid Saturday morning on April 3, Madam Ong Poh Lian announced: "Lai ah lai (come over). Have your portrait taken for free and take the free photo home with you."
Driven by curiosity, senior citizens gathered around Madam Ong, a resident in her 60s, and scrutinised professionally framed portraits of familiar faces in their neighbourhood.
The One Portrait initiative is a free photo session for seniors aged above 65. The community outreach project by Captured - a Singapore-based collective of photographers doing corporate and editorial work - provides dignified photographic portraits to the elderly, especially those living below or close to the poverty line.
Captured said the objective is to give the seniors a framed portrait and, in the process, affirm the basic human dignity to which every person is rightfully entitled.
The collective, which is funding every aspect of the project, was founded by former Straits Times photojournalist Edwin Koo in 2012.
"We called it One Portrait because we wanted to create that one portrait that represents the one gift that photography can give to our recipients," he said.
He added that some of the seniors quipped that the photo taken of them is the "one portrait that would end up at the head of the hearse on my final day".
The sessions are usually held once a month on Saturday mornings at Housing Board void decks.
The team of about five photographers set up a mobile studio using a plain textured backdrop lit by professional studio lighting.
Before the shoot, the senior citizen is groomed for free by a professional make-up artist, to make sure the person looks his or her best. Each shoot takes 15 to 20 minutes, and the whole session can take about three hours.
Each senior's best photo is selected by the photographer and printed on A4-sized archival paper. The framed photo, signed by the photographer, is presented to the person about a month after the session.
The photographers have covered Jalan Kukoh and Pipit Road, and conducted six sessions, since Sept 20 last year. In total, they have photographed 113 seniors.
More information can be found at this website.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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