Singapore photographer one of '30 under 30' to watch

Amrita Chandradas explored the theme of Singapore’s fast-growing population with her work. PHOTO: AMRITA CHANDRADAS

A Singaporean has bagged prizes in an international photography competition, with her photos that explore the issue of the nation’s burgeoning population.

Freelance photographer Amrita Chandradas, 26, was among 30 winners of “30 Under 30”, which seeks to showcase the work of young photographers.

Jointly organised for the first time by the prestigious Magnum photo agency and media group Future as part of The Photography Show in Britain, the competition was open to photographers aged between 18 and 30.

The winners, announced on Tuesday, were chosen from a pool of more than 800 entries.

Ms Chandradas’ work was also voted one of the top three favourites in the competition’s “people’s choice” awards via social media. Her five photos captured the view on top of Marina Bay Sands, the exhumation of graves in Bukit Brown Cemetery and residents of Singapore’s last kampung in Buangkok, among others.

All her photos deal with the theme of Singapore’s fast-growing population, which has been projected to hit 6.9 million in 2030 from 5.3 million now. They were originally taken as part of a project for her master’s degree in photojournalism and documentary photography at the University of the Arts London in Britain.

Ms Chandradas, who completed her degree last year and currently lives in London, returned to Singapore to shoot the photo series over two months last year.

“It was a personal as well as a university project,” she said. “I’ve spoken to so many people and gotten a new perspective on things. I’ve gotten to know my country so much better.”

She believes in taking time to get to know her subjects before snapping their photos.

She said: “You’re going into people’s personal lives. You can’t just whip out your camera. Respect is very important, and I always stick by that.”

She joined the contest on a whim and did not expect to win.

“I’m very happy to have been given this opportunity,” she said. “Winning has really given me the confidence to take on bigger stories.”

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on March 8, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.