The time: A sweltering afternoon in May 1950 The place: A dingy warehouse in Boat Quay, long before it became one of Singapore’s brightest entertainment hubs
Five friends met over coffee to discuss setting up a club to cater to the interests of a growing number of photography enthusiasts in Singapore. They were Lee Hock Chiong (who mooted the idea), Pung Ah Leong, A Rahman bin Hj Hussein, Soh Teow Seng BBM, and Szto Sim Chuan.
Within two months, these five photography enthusiasts managed to gather more friends, numbering 20 in all. They held their first unofficial meeting in borrowed premises off Jalan Besar, and put in their votes to elect their pro-temp committee.
Yee Joon Toh was elected President, Soh Teow Seng Honorary Secretary and Chan Siew Loon Honorary Treasurer. Committee members included Lee Hock Chiong, Lee Yew Meng, Lee How Chye, A Rahman bin Hj, Hussein and Szto Sim Chuan.
So began the Singapore Camera Club, with an initial membership of just 30…
As the foremost photographic society in Singapore, PSS had achieved many significant milestones:
1950 – Singapore Camera Club organises her first photographic competition;
1953 – PSS holds the 1st Malayan Photographic Exhibition;
1956 – Singapore Camera Club changes her name to The Photographic Society of Singapore (PSS);
1957 – PSS organises the prestigious Annual International Photographic Exhibition (later, Singapore International Salon of Photography; now known as Singapore International Photography Awards);
1961 – PSS establishes herself as a Founding Corporate Member of the People’s Association of Singapore;
1978 – PSS organises a historic trip to China for her members;
1980 – PSS organises the World Photographic Congress, one of the largest photographic events in South-east Asia;
1984 – PSS purchases her first property at No. 6, Lorong 7 Geylang for $550,000;
1995 – PSS made a historic moved to The Selegie Arts Centre at 30 Selegie Road. The Arts Centre is located at the heart of the city and was granted exclusive use by the National Arts Council. A total of $225,000 was raised from members to equip the Centre with an exhibition gallery, a studio and lecture rooms;
1997 – PSS raised funds for Dover Park Hospice;
2001 – PSS initiated the Biennial Photo & Imaging Asia Exhibition;
2003 – PSS spearheads the steering committee for ClickArt: World Photojournalists Meet, held in conjunction with Photo & Imaging Asia;
2007 – PSS publishes the book Harmony of Minds; Celebrating Interfaith in Singapore to promote inter-religious harmony through photography. Proceeds from the sponsorship and sale of books totaled $130,000 that was donated to the President’s Challenge to help needy Singaporeans;
2010 – PSS celebrates 60 years in photography with a series of events. Under an initiative by UNESCO and the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP), PSS and FIAP hosted the “Children of the World” international photography competition to mark both the organizations’ 60th Anniversary. The competition aimed at bringing the plight of underprivileged children to world attention and it attracted 559 photographers from 39 Countries. The winning entries were first exhibited at the ION Gallery, ION Orchard and went on a revolving exhibition around the world which included FIAP’s HQ in France. The event culminated with a printed book of all winning entires;
2012 – PSS proudly hosted the 31st FIAP Congress for the International Federation of Photographic Art. The Congress was attended by more than 150 prominent photographers from 32 country-federation representatives around the world;
2013 – PSS broke new grounds and developed a web-based system for our Singapore International Photography Awards (SIPA) salon. This system automated the process from registration to judging and through to certification. In the same year, this system demonstrated its capability at a public live judging event during SITEX 2013;
2015 – PSS installs a professional wireless studio lighting setup with dedicated railings for the studio strobes. The first photographic society in Singapore to have this installation;
2016a – PSS organised the 1st Lion City International Salon (LCIS) in Singapore and established herself as the first photographic society in Singapore to manage 2 international salon exhibitions in a single year. LCIS attracted more than 8,400 entries and set a new benchmark in the region’s history of salon exhibitions;
2016b – In the same year, PSS set another record by being the first photographic society in Singapore to co-host an international salon exhibition circuit. Along with partners, the Photographic Society of New Jersey & Atlantic Institute of Photography of the USA and Greek Artistic Photography of Greece, the 1st Pacific-Atlantic International Circuit was conceived. The circuit attracted close to 10,000 entries from more than 800 exhibitors worldwide, setting another notable record in the region.