Emotive and introspective images from Singapore based photographer Rebecca Toh. Her photography examines the everyday and searches for beauty in the simplest of things.
q: I feel like your images engage in some form of visual poetics, in that it seeks to evoke certain feelings. What do you try to convey in your photography and do you think it reflects you as a person?
a: I’m an emotional person, so maybe that’s why my images always end up being very emotional as well. When I take photographs I don’t really try to convey anything, I simply record the beautiful moment I’m currently experiencing, but somehow something always come through, and that something is almost always this sense of loneliness, solitude, detachment. So I think that’s me, subconsciously speaking through my photographs. This sense of loneliness I feel is not only on an individual level, but on a universal, cosmic level. These days we are all so disconnected from each other, we’re all so far away. It’s very very sad.
q: You’ve photographed cities all over the world, from Amsterdam to Kathmandu, yet the series that resonates the most with me would be “This is Home”, where you capture everyday scenes in Singapore. While it’s easy to see new places with a fresh pair of eyes, I think routine and repetition can sometimes make us blind if we are not careful. Would you say photography, as a tool, helps you put on a “fresh pair of eyes” to re-examine the familiar?
a: Yes, you’re right in that routine can make us blind to the beauty around us. Were it not for photography, were it not for wanting to make beautiful pictures of my homeland, I would never try to see Singapore in a different way. But photography isn’t really the means – it’s only a catalyst. What makes everything possible is this internal re-examination that goes on in my mind, in my heart. Having become numb, I now try to feel again. Nowadays I try to walk on a normal street Singapore and I try to notice the trees, the sidewalks, the cars, the people, and I try to take it all in, in a way that I usually reserve for only when I am traveling in a foreign land. This new mindfulness has made me realize that it doesn’t matter where we are – place and circumstance are really not as important as the right mindset.
q: In your series “Alone”, you deal with the contradiction of being simultaneously detached yet connected to strangers on the street. Do you think photography, as a medium, can help to reconcile this state of solitude in some ways?
a: Unfortunately… no. Photography is wonderful and endlessly inspiring and often more powerful than we can imagine, but it is after all still an abstract art form. It doesn’t live in the real world. We as human beings, on the other hand, are alive and breathing, and so only we can do the difficult job of reconnecting, of having relationships, of driving loneliness away from the hearts of our fellow human beings. So like I said earlier, photography is only a catalyst, the rest is up to us.
q: You’re also pretty into the design and creative scene. Anyone we should keep a look-out for?
a: I really love the Korean and Japanese creative scene. I think they are very creative and very fresh. Some people/brands to look out for (although they are not new) include MMMG, Spring Come Rain Fall, TRUCK.
q: Photographic equipment?
a: Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III. Canon and Sigma prime lenses. My favorite lenses are the Canon 50mm f1.8 and Sigma 50mm f1.4 art.
q: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
a: A banana.
q: Upcoming projects or ideas?
a: I’m moving to Japan for awhile next year. Hopefully that will give rise to new photo projects.
q: Any new music to recommend?
a: Just recently discovered The Whitest Boy Alive and Erlend Øye. And if you’re into quality Christian music, check out Crowder.