Assignment four of People and Place called for me to take photos for a travel orientated publication. This should be a ‘serious’ travel publication (I was thinking along the lines of National Geographic Traveller or similar) and as such some thought and consideration needed to go in to the final product. The place in question should be an area that I knew well. I needed to produce 6 final images but with double that available for the ‘editor’ to choose from if needs be. I was to show the character of the place and of the people who live there. I also should produce a variety of subject matter and scale.
The immediate place that sprang to mind when thinking of areas that I ‘know well’ in Singapore was Little India. It is an area of Singapore which is home to, unsurprisingly, many of the Indian contingent of Singapore. In the main it is home to Tamil residents and indeed this is how the area grew to prominence from the 1820s onwards. It is one of few areas of Singapore not to have been drawn up by Sir Stamford Raffles and delineated for the use and inhabitation of certain races (Little India: Historic District. (1995). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority) such as Chinatown was. This was due to the the originally drawn up area expanding a such a rate that it no longer suited purpose and Little India developed. As such, especially in the designated conservation area, it has much less of the structure and rigidity of the rest of Singapore.
This made it attractive to me to photograph for this assignment. As well as having a very interesting background it is also a very photogenic area with as I say, less of the obvious organisation and shine of many other parts of Singapore.
One of the things that always stands out to me when walking around the area are the street signs which purport to times past and evoke thoughts of a century past when things would have been very different to today’s area. The main names that stand out are twofold; those that are colonially related and those that are cattle related. The colonial families (Dunlop, Dickson, Clive) settling in the area were drawn, in part, by the race course in the early 1800s. The cattle related names (Kerbau, Buffalo, Belilios) hale from the trade of the Indians who were drawn in by their expertise of trading in the beasts in question. I further focused my attentions by looking specifically at the previously mentioned conservation area. This contained many fascinating and evocative names.
Given the nocturnal nature of Little India’s inhabitance, it would seem a good idea to photograph the area at night. Although normally one might expect to see day time photographs in travel publications, I felt the evening photography would better reflect the nature of the area I was exploring. The locals tend to come out to eat, shop and socialise after work, so it made more sense to see them at this time rather than the tour groups during the day.