Why So Serious?

A few weeks ago, the cook and a friend of hers met up in Clarke Quay for a bit of a catching up. Not wanting to be the third wheel, I decided to roam the streets around the area. I’ve been to Clarke Quay many times before, and due to that I ended my roaming after only a short while as I was getting bored with the place. I decided to go and see Chinatown, which is only one MRT station away. I could have walked, but I didn’t want to waste my time on walking.

The areas around Pagoda Street and Temple Street, which are located in Chinatown, are usually quite lively in the evening. They are frequented by tourists who would like to see the more exotic parts of Singapore. Shops and stalls lined both sides of the streets, and tourists can be seen walking about every time I visit the place. That night was no exception. However, there was one specific place in the area that I would like to see that night.

Wait. Back up a bit. There were actually two places that I would like to visit that night. One of them is a toy store in Chinatown Square Center (I’m a collector of Transformers action figures), but the place had already closed by the time I got there. So, down to one.

An antique store nearby Chinatown


The other place that I would like to see that night was a corner at the bend in Sago Street, right behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown. Here you will find a lot of senior members of the population (mostly Chinese, and all of them men) playing a game of some sort of Chinese chess. It is a good spot for street photography, mostly because of the serious expression these men wore during the game that makes it such an excellent spot for a bit of candid photography session. That night I came there because I basically wanted to explore the area to get the ‘feel’ of the place next time I go there for photo hunting with my dSLR (I didn’t bring mine that night).

The Sri Mariamman Temple on Pagoda Street is a familiar tourist spot

That didn’t stop me from taking a shot or two with my iPhone. After all, most of the time the best camera is the one that you have with you . While taking some photos I couldn’t help but to admire the intensity of the expressions on these old men. It was as if their lives depended on it. At times, it actually felt more like as if these men were triad members deciding whether or not they would go to war and start shooting each other right there and then.

THAT would made for an interesting photo-ops now, wouldn’t it?

A serious, serious game

Anyhow, if you’re into street photography and happen to be in Singapore, you should definitely check this place out. To this day I’ve been there many times, and I would always find old men playing their serious game of chess there (the Chinese variety). And if you somehow find yourself bored taking photos of these old gentlemen and their games, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple right next to their hangout provides you with lots of photography objects, inside and outside it.

I found myself there the next week, but that would be a story for a different post. πŸ™‚


2 thoughts on “Why So Serious?

  1. i love the concept of iphoneography–people tend to be down on it but it allows you a spontaneity that you couldn’t have with your dslr…

    i always feel the conundrum with candids like the one of the men you took is “do you take pictures then ask or do you ask and then take a picture?”

    lovely photos πŸ˜€

    • Well, for this case I actually didn’t ask them at all. I saw a lot of other photographers around who came and started taking photos without asking. And these players actually didn’t mind. They were concentrating too much on the game, I guess. I think that if you ask them, they’d be more pissed off because of the interruption πŸ˜€

      In any case, I know what you mean and how you feel regarding the conundrum. To ask or not to ask. Before or after. If I have to ask, I’d probably prefer after, because if you told them you’re taking pictures of them before you start, they might put on an act or a face making it not so spontaneous or genuine. I guess it depends on the situation.

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