During the nine days of campaigning in the lead up to Singapore’s historic general elections on May 7, photographer Darren Soh documented several rallies using the technique of a landscape photographer.
Using a borrowed Leica S2, Soh photographed the rallies, then stitched images together to create final files that are roughly 1GB.
“The most obvious way of photographing an election campaign is to show people’s faces and emotions, and the candidates up-close,” Soh, who is based in Singapore, explains. “I wanted to show the scale of these rallies.”
Rally, National Solidarity Party, 2nd May, 2011
As many as 50,000 people were reported to have turned out for some of the rallies that preceded the election, which saw the ruling People’s Action Party lose seats in a parliament it has dominated since the city-state’s independence in 1956. Though the opposition Workers’ Party won only six of the 87 parliamentary seats, they made a strong enough showing that Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, and another ex-prime minister resigned from Singapore’s cabinet earlier this week, ceding control of their party to younger members who they feel are more in tune with the concerns of Singapore’s people.
“Singaporeans are generally known to be apolitical—if it doesn’t rock their boat they’re happy to carry on their lives,” Soh explains. “In the nine days of campaigning the turnout at these rallies showed that Singaporeans do care about their political future… They want to hear what the various candidates have to offer. Photographing from this distance shows in a very basic way how much they care, because of the sheer numbers.”
Rally, Workers’ Party, 1st May, 2011
The images Soh and other Singaporean photographers made during the general elections will be published in a book, GE 2011: We Were There. Proceeds will help establish a documentary photography fund administered by the journalism school at a local university.