The Big Picture contest returns for fourth season. Shoot and win $500.
A lens on what is happening in our city. A showcase of the country by local photographers.
Starting this Thursday (Aug 28), the Big Picture contest returns for a fourth season to give photo enthusiasts another chance every week to win $500 by framing life in Singapore through their lenses.
Nearly 40 photographers, ranging from students to professionals, emerged winners in the just-ended season of this contest presented by The New Paper and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
A total of 52 winning photos were picked from more than 6,300 submissions based on various themes about Singapore over the year.
Not only has the number of submissions increased since the contest began in 2011, so has the quality of photos, said chief judge Tay Kay Chin.
"I see a qualitative improvement over the years and that has to be my greatest joy. Week after week, you see entries trying to outdo the previous batch," said the freelance photographer, who helped conceptualise the contest.
The 49-year-old added that the improved standards can be seen not only in the "new tricks" used by regular contestants to impress but also by the many new names entering and winning.
Madam Tay Kim Suan, who started taking part in the first season using a point-and-shoot camera, won three times this season.
Her success encouraged her friends to join the contest, said the secretary, whose interest in photography was encouraged by the contest.
She said: "The Big Picture is something that keeps us going every week. It also challenges us to be creative and trains us to get to the next level.
"The Big Picture is like my 'weekly bread.'"
The contest format keeps another winner keen enough to try his luck again.
Mr Chan Wai Meng, last season's top winner, with the maximum four wins, said the fortnightly themes encourage him to keep shooting.
The engineer's photography skills have improved with the contest judges' professional critique and by looking at other entries and their take on the contest themes.
What Mr Chan likes the most about the contest is its focus on Singapore.
"As a Singaporean, I find it meaningful to capture images that resonate with me and fellow Singaporeans and to submit photos with subject matters that are close to our hearts," the 43-year-old said.
Over the years, The Big Picture has attracted entries that tell heartfelt stories about Singapore using fresh approaches, said Mr Bryan van der Beek, who has been part of the rotating panel of 87 judges from Singapore's photography community since the beginning of the contest.
"We have been seeing more honest pictures over the course of the competition and pictures that are more well-thought-out," said the 37-year-old professional photographer.
For the coming season, participants can look forward to less predictable themes and also those that celebrate Singapore's 50th anniversary next year.
"I still wait each week to be educated about new things and new places," said Mr Tay.
The Big Picture is something that keeps us going every week.
- Madam Tay Kim Suan, on her regular participation in the contest
Picking the winner
Every Friday, each week's submitted photos, which could range in number from 40 to over 300, are reviewed and up to 10 would be shortlisted as finalists.
The finalists must not only best fit the contest themes but also need to adhere to contest rules. For instance, only photos taken in the current or past year of the contest would be considered.
To ensure diversity, each participant can only win up to four times each season, which is why we generally shortlist only one photo from each of them, even though multiple submissions are allowed.
The Big Picture contest does not accept photos that have won elsewhere. As it is impossible to check all submissions, the contest operates on an honour system and previous winners found to have won other contests have been disqualified.
The winner is selected from the shortlist of photographs by a rotating panel of three judges. The photos are viewed without names attached.
Each judge ranks his or her own top three pictures. The picture with the most points - three points for top place and one for third place - is the winner.
The winner is notified and interviewed about his or her entry for a report in The New Paper every Tuesday.
“The themes give budding photographers a chance to focus their shooting. It’s a form of discipline that they wouldn’t usually get elsewhere.”
— Judge Bryan Van Der Beek
“I’ve seen different aspects of things happening in Singapore through The Big Picture... What I like about the contest is the heartlanders’ point of view... being portrayed in images.”
— Contestant Tay Kim Suan
“Through this contest, I feel the bond with fellow photographers involved in the quest to record the activities of Singapore through our lens. It also gives me the opportunity to visit and explore more areas in Singapore, and to better appreciate the place we call home.”
— Contestant Chan Wai Meng
TAKE A SHOT AT THE BIG PICTURE
We are kicking off the new season by looking at what is "Hip & Happening" in Singapore this fortnight.
There are many exciting events in the city these days, like the Singapore Night Festival and the Singapore International Festival of Arts.
Capture the exciting pulse of Singapore and stand to win $500 by submitting your photos before 11.59pm on Thursday or next Thursday.
To find out the latest contest updates and see photos of all the finalists and winners for the Big Picture, visit our website (tnp.sg/thebigpicture) or join our Facebook page (facebook.com/TheBigPictureContest).