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SINGAPORE – At 81, self-taught photographer Lui Hock Seng will be releasing his first photo book capturing scenes of Singapore from the days gone by.
The collection of 80 black and white photographs taken from the 1960s to 1970s will be compiled in his book, Passing Time.
It includes images from his recently held exhibition of the same name, as well as those that have not been released earlier.
Mr Lui, who works as a cleaner at Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Straits Times, picked up photography as a teenager in the 1950s.
He honed his skills by taking part in photography excursions, and he was also a member of the now defunct South-east Asia Photographic Society.
His photos include images of a Singapore that has now disappeared, such as kampung life, Chinatown’s snake-meat vendors and letter-writers for the illiterate.
And his passion has never waned since.
For keeping active even in his golden years, Mr Lui received a nod from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (April 17).
Sharing a BBC video of Mr Lui in a Facebook post, PM Lee said it is clear that his passion for photography has not diminished, but grown stronger over the years.
He also described Mr Lui as “a brilliant example of active ageing”.
“Mr Lui speaks with nostalgia about the places he used to photograph that no longer exist,” PM Lee wrote.
Teochew market in Clarke Quay, taken between 1960 and 1965 by Mr Lui Hock Seng. Mr Lui Hock Seng, 80, will hold his first photography exhibition, curated by Objectifs manager Ryan Chua (both left), 39, who is a fan of his work.
80-year-old photographer holds first solo exhibition
Mr Lui Hock Seng, with the Rolleiflex mechanical camera that his brother bought him 55 years ago.
“Singapore has indeed changed a great deal over the years. It will continue to change and grow, while I hope keeping a sense of its history.
“I am sure Mr Lui will find new scenes to inspire him, and continue chronicling our beautiful living city with his camera.”
Mr Lui, who is married and a father of three sons, has won prizes in several photography competitions over the years.
He recently held his first photo exhibition at Objectifs, a centre for photography and film, from Feb 8 to March 11.
The exhibition was made possible largely through the kindness of two strangers, who told The Straits Times in an earlier report that they were impressed by Mr Lui’s artistry.
Visitors to the exhibition were already able to pre-order his book, which is expected to be ready by early May.
The hard cover book costs $45 if pre-ordered from the Objectifs website, and it will retail at $48 when published.
It includes an introduction by Objectifs curator Ryan Chua, an essay on the history of pictorial photography in Singapore by curator Charmaine Toh, and an essay about the historical and cultural significance of Mr Lui’s images by writer Yu-Mei Balasingamchow.
According to details on its Facebook page, Objectifs will be hosting a book launch event on the evening of May 12, which will feature book signing and meet-and-greet sessions with Mr Lui.

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