Shooting in Singapore: Do's and Don'ts.

Discussion in 'Travel' started by patrickmp, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. I'll be shooting in Singapore for two weeks at the beginning of March, and I'd like to hear people's opinions and what to do and not to do.
    I'm going with friends who tell me we'll be in a fairly touristy neighbourhood. But I've been told by other people that you can't chew gum or spit in public, so I'm not sure how this will mix with the tourism areas. Should I be worried about being mugged or theft? My gear list would likely be a Canon 10D and Flash, and I'm debating on the following lens setups:
    • 16-35
    • 17-40
    • A wide prime and a 24-70
    I've only got a 24-70 now but the 24 isn't wide enough for the 10D, so I'd like to widen my perspectives so to speak. But I'm wary about walking around with a monster 24-70 lens drooping from my neck.
    Can anyone who's shot there shed some light on how the people react? If I'd like to shoot street vendors, I would ask first of course, but is it common custom to leave them some type of payment, or buy some of their wares? How do the regular people react to someone shooting around them on the streets?
    Thanks,
    - Patrick
     
  2. While it's been a few years since I was last there, I've visited Singapore a number of times.

    You will not be alone walking around with a camera. In fact the contrary will be true - if you walked around without a camera, you would be in a distinct minority in Singapore.

    Singapore used to be one of the two or three best shopping cities for photographic equipment. I think you can do better price-wise in New York today, but certainly you will find hundreds of shops with the very latest in equipment.

    Yes, you don't want to chew gum, spit on the sidewalk, or arrive in need of a haircut. And the treatment for drug smugglers in Singapore is downright inhospitable - they get executed. But what that means is that the place is clean and with remarkably little crime. I've never heard of the usual street crimes happening there - pickpockets or muggers. You may get offers of various "personal services" (you know, girls, boys, - your choice) - that's also illegal but it still happens.

    The orchid gardens and the zoo are a couple of the must-see spots. The architecture is fabulous, and people don't seem to be very anxious about street photography there.
     
  3. Get some facts straight first...
    Yes, you don't want to chew gum,...
    You can chew gum but you cant buy it or sell it here; just be careful of how you dispose of it.
    ...or arrive in need of a haircut...
    Dont be stupid! Doesnt matter what your hair is like
    remarkably little crime. I've never heard of the usual street crimes happening there - pickpockets or muggers
    Probably more a case of remarkably little is publically reported. But yes, it is low and nothing really to worry about. Singapore would have to be one of the safest places in the world
    You may get offers of various "personal services" (you know, girls, boys, - your choice) - that's also illegal but it still happens.
    Its not all illegal
    If youre in the touristy areas dont even think about buying anything photographic related - its relativley very expensive. Cathay Photo, ground level Peninsula Plaza (close to City Hall subway stop) is good and reliable but even then I personally tend to ship in from B&H or from hong Kong as the prices are considerably lower.
    As for photography, its not the most exciting place. Little India can be interesting; actually go inside the crowded temples and photograph. And be aware that most Chinese tend to get upset if you point a camera at them. The Indians and Malays dont seem to mind so much...
    Been here since 1998
     
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  4. its not the most exciting place - you're not wrong, especially when you compare it with the far more visually appealing countries that are relatively close by...and also have the same attitude to narco-traffickers...two more have just paid the ultimate price.
    The (food) hawker stands are worth a visit for photos....and definitely worth visiting for the food, which is excellent. The temples too, as mentioned, should be visited. Due to the huge ex-pat community there (think it's about one-third of the population) western faces and/or clothing don't standout; I don't think I've visited anywhere I felt as safe from petty crime except Japan.
    Not sure if your local prices for equipment would be beaten by a Singapore store, but you can email Cathay Photo and ask them for a quote.
     
  5. The hawkers, the restaurants, in general, are uniformly good. Otherwise, the city/country of Singapore is quite boring. It's built for business. KL, Jakarta, and Manila and other more culturally interesting.
     
  6. Hello Patrick,

    I live in Brunei, 2 hours away from Singapore by plane. My first knee-jerk reaction to your questions would be to laugh at your ignorance but I'd like to be polite and offer you a diplomatic response. I've travelled quite extensively on business trips and vacations, having been to USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and of course Singapore on many occasions. In my own unbiased opinion, Singapore is one destination I want to go again and again.

    My last trip there was December 2006 with the kids and I brought my 20D, 10-22mm and 580EX and enjoyed myself immensely with so little gear. Since most of my shots were available light, the 580EX stayed switched off until absolutely necessary. Take a look at my gallery from the trip http://www.shimworld.com/gallery/Singapore/

    "I've been told by other people that you can't chew gum or spit in public" I don't chew gum so it doesn't bother me but Singapore has lifted the ban somewhat and you can read more from this link. As for spitting in public, I believe it's generally regarded as rude everywhere with the exception of China where it is culturally acceptable to do so.
    http://www.allbusiness.com/wholesale-trade/merchant-wholesalers-nondurable/377616-1.html

    "Should I be worried about being mugged or theft?"
    Singapore is very safe and is one fundamental reason I like going there compared to any other neighbouring country.

    "If I'd like to shoot street vendors, I would ask first of course, but is it common custom to leave them some type of payment, or buy some of their wares? How do the regular people react to someone shooting around them on the streets?"

    Putting myself in your shoes, I'm very certain you will find a lot of interesting people and places you want to photograph. The streets of Singapore are filled to the brim with tourists of all nationalities. Trust me when I say you'll blend right in. When shooting people use common sense ie. it's ok if you're seen as casually photographing the surroundings, no one likes being "stalked" and no, you don't need to tip them. The courtest to ask first may get you further than trying to steal a moment (no pun intended).

    There are places where photogaphy is prohibited. If you look at my gallery, you'll see Snow City and Science Centre both of these places do not allow photography. They'll leave you alone if you're just taking pictures with a compact camera but an SLR gets noticed too easily. If you're wondering how I managed to get away with those photos, well, I'm a professional photographer so I've learnt a thing or two about getting it regardless. I wish you all the best and a pleasant journey.
     
  7. <P>To all of those who posted some constructive tips, thank you very much.
    <P>I'll check out the links posted. Despite some people thinking that Singapore is "boring" I'm sure I'll find something worth shooting there. After all, a place is only as boring as you make it, no?
    <P>Cheers,<BR />- Patrick
     
  8. "I'll check out the links posted. Despite some people thinking that Singapore is "boring" I'm sure I'll find something worth shooting there. After all, a place is only as boring as you make it, no?"

    Hi Patrick,

    Hope you're all set for the Singapore trip. I was in Hong Kong from Jan 31 to Feb 4 and had a really great time taking pictures as I covered a fair bit of distance on foot. By comparison, there are a lot more interesting places and people to photograph. I've just created a gallery here http://shimworld.com/gallery/HongKong/album/index.html
     
  9. Singapore is something of a challenge for a first time visitor. The first impression is one of a rather sterile modern city with little of the atmosphere of neighboring countries. Take time to explore and you will find places of photographic interest. Little India is my favorite area in Singapore; Its colourful with some interesting old architecture. The Hindu temples are fascinating. The modern architecture on the quays is dramatic; especially at sundown. Take an ultra wide lens and you can get some pretty dramatic shots of towering buildings with the onset of late afternoon storms. I would not give for photos; You may think you are being generous; but giving cash to people for photos just results in demands for payment for others in the future. In any case Singapore os a rich country an you may end up embarrasing yourself and insulting your subject.
    00K431-35125484.jpg
     
  10. I was in Singapore last year. I left my full frame camera at home and took a Canon 100D with a pancake 24mm f2.8. On a crop sensor the 24mm is an ideal lens for travel photography.
     

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