Apple Shines The Spotlight On Singapore’s Hawker Culture In This Inspiring Photo Series

There’s always great satisfaction when we come across a stunning, beautifully-framed photo with the hashtag #shotoniphone — somehow, it gives us hope that we can recreate the same. Today’s smartphone cameras have indeed democratised high-end photography, making it accessible to the masses, and Apple’s iPhones always does a brilliant job, as we can see from the following photo series.

For this year’s National Day, they’ve chosen to honour Singapore’s hawker culture, now a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage symbol, by tasking Singapore’s leading iPhone photographers to capture the sights and moments that take place every day at our heartland hawker centres. This is especially apt since they’ve been the most hard-hit by COVID-19 and its restrictions. The mood though will hopefully be lifted when you look at these images that embrace our beloved hawkers and their stalls, while gaining photography tips and tricks along the way.

1. Yudhi Aristan — @aristan89

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LOCATION: Amoy Street Food Centre

You can tell that full-time architect and photography enthusiast Yudhi Aristan has a soft spot for both geometry and hearty fare, as he lovingly captures the intricate detail of these handmade curry puffs in a close-up shot, or does a fun play of light and shadows with Mad Roaster’s coffee, both available at the Amoy Street Food Centre. The assembling of Singapore’s iconic Nasi Lemak dish is also captured here, as an ode to the “hard work and industry of these unsung heroes in continuing to provide Singaporeans with the dishes they love so much”.

Photography tips:

    • Use the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s Ultra Wide Camera while shooting in public or small spaces to capture more action in your frame.
    • Turn on Smart HDR mode when shooting in harsh light and deep shadow conditions. The processor will intelligently blend the best parts of your separate exposures into a single photo. Look for unique shadow patterns to enhance the object and give the final image a bit of texture.
    • Portrait Mode is brilliant under natural daylight. Bring your subject outside for your photoshoot whenever you can. The combination of Smart HDR and Portrait Mode creates a highly dynamic range image in an instant. The depth of field can also be easily adjusted to your liking. The lower the depth of field, the more prominent the portrait subject will be.

2. Lauryn Ishak — @laurynishak

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location: ghim moh food centre ; Maxwell Food Centre

Pro photographer Lauryn Ishak managed to capture the bustle of Ghim Moh Food Centre, days just before Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) kicked in — which then stands in contrast to the more subdued atmosphere she noticed at Maxwell Food Center several weeks later. The latter is also the location of her favourite Ang Ku Kueh stall, which serves the local “red tortoise cake” delight, of sticky glutinous rice flour skin usually wrapped around peanut or sweet bean fillings.

Photography tips:

    • Use Portrait Mode to create more focus around your subject. Also, get close! Shooting with an iPhone is less intimidating than a camera and allows the subject to feel more comfortable and natural.
    • Lighting is key to give your photographs the right mood and emotion. Early morning and late afternoon light have a softer quality that gives your subject more shape, as compared to the flat overhead harsh light one gets in the middle of the day.
    • Use Burst Mode when capturing motion, as it allows you to choose the best movement for your image.

3. Yais Yusman — @yaisyusman

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location: Golden Mile Food Centre ; Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre

Street photographer Yais Yusman loves the interplay of light and shadow in his photos, and it’s this contrast that he was particularly drawn to while visiting both Golden Mile Food Centre and Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre late in the evening, when they’re usually free from the bustling hordes ot CBD workers. There, he found interesting vantage points, and expertly framed his shot using architecture and on-site elements to capture some stunning images.

Photography tips:

    • Framing is one of my favourite shooting styles. It creates an illusion of depth and draws focus to the subject in the photo by using elements around me or objects I carry with me. Start finding simple frames like windows or fences.
    • The exposure function on the iPhone camera app is an important tool to create different moods in my photos. I specifically like to reduce exposure to increase the darkness of the image, and keep the focus on the main subject.
    • I use the Ultra Wide Camera setting to show off the surroundings. It’s especially useful in a tight space, giving a whole new story to my photos.

4. Melissa Patrice — @Girleatworld

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location: Bendemeer Food Centre

One of food photographer Melissa Patrice’s favourite haunts has to be  Bendemeer Food Centre, which she visited during Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) in order to indulge in the hawker stores’ wide variety of cuisines. Her must-tries? Authentic beef noodles, which still follows the same recipe concocted in the 1970s, and a modern take on Indonesian Curry Rice that often sees never-ending queues at the store.

Photography tips:

    • Work with natural, indirect sunlight. Natural sun is by far the best way to create beautiful photos, and this applies to all photos, not just food shots. I also prefer indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight tends to create harsh shadows on your photo.
    • When it comes to food photography, consider the colours on the plate to make food look as appetising as possible. Look for contrasts — for example, if the food’s mostly brown, try adding a contrasting orange or yellow to spruce up the dish. You can even add colours using background accessories.
    • Portrait mode is not just for shooting people! Try it with food too, and you might just walk away with a photo that looks like it was shot by an expensive camera instead of an iPhone.

5. Jason Lim — @jsnjnr

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Location: Tiong Bahru Market

iPhone photographer Jason Lim wants to spotlight the story of this particular Pig’s Organ Soup stall at Tiong Bahru Market, in a photo series starring 33-years-old Thomas Koh, the young owner who had taken over his family business of six decades. It’s indeed encouraging to see the younger generations continuing the hawker stall’s, and hawker culture’s, rich heritage.

Photography tips:

    • Press and hold the screen on your subject to lock your focus.
    • Make use of grid lines when using the camera, allowing you to position your subject following the rule of thirds.
    • Use the Wide Angle lens to include more details, but ensure that your subject focus does not get lost in the picture. Make sure there is contrast and proper framing.