Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Soft Portrait

Whoever was responsible for the funeral arrangements, he deserves to be shot. The photograph chosen for the once in a life time event lacks gravitas, hardly the best portrait of a strong man who fought colonial masters, Communists and political opponents alike, with one hand tied behind his back. It looks more like one of those effete models pimped by Calvin Cheng for a living.

Alex Josey told author James Minchin ("No Man Is An Island") that when Lee Kuan Yew first saw himself on television, he was momentarily shocked into silence. He was appalled at the fierce and unsmiling figure on the screen, clearly spoiling for a fight. This was not the figure the political Lee wanted to present to the electorate, according to Josey:
"He set out to soften the image. The result is not an unqualified success: when he is not tensed up to rebuke or attack, he tends to appear bored or chemically over-relaxed and his official smile is not unlike that of a crocodile tenderly anticipating his prey."

If you are planning to capture your own enduring image for posterity at the Parliament House lie-in-state - the elites had their meet and greet with the stiff at the Istana, hoi polloi will have to make do with some place less exclusive - here's a couple of handy funeral photography tips:
  • Beware family members may object to your presence, don't take it personally –– it's about grief and loss, and respecting sensitivities trumps all. Put aside politics for the day.
  • Eschew the wide angle lens for a telephoto to help you to take long shots and keep your distance. What you don't want is a slug to the chin by an over enthusiastic cop in plain clothes.
  • Have plenty of tissues with you; it will be hard to stay unmoved, especially when so many grassroots worshippers will be on the prowl for a $2 company opportunity. Whatever you do, don't sell three packets for a dollar.
  • The indoor lighting may not be optimal. Choose a high ISO setting and a camera with optical image stabilisation like the iPhone 6 Plus. Low light situations can be improved with the use of a monopod or tripod, but it is unlikely Baey Yam Keng will get to use his selfie gear.
When all else fails, there is always Adobe Photoshop.


  1. He did not fight his political opponents with one hand tied behind his back. He fought them with one or both of their hands tied behind their backs. This is his version of riding the communist tiger. Remember his cul-de sac imaginary fight? Only he had the knuckle dusters, an illegal weapon then and now.

  2. Sleepy and dreamy (as shown in the selected picture) he certainly was never!

  3. In real life, he acted and looked like a bully and a tyrant, a terror. He himself said "If you don't fear me, I am nothing". This must have been photoshopped to make him look benign and caring. Why can't they show a more honest picture of him, even unto death? Never never trust what you see coming from them.

  4. Any picture will do now. There is no need to bother about him smoking or his photograph lacking photogenic.

    His deeds matter more than the Look of the Man.

    Will anyone keep and or display his photograph??


  5. a bit girly looking don't you think?

  6. Remembering Lee Kuan Yew:

    Some flags were flown upside down by probably over-enthusiastic RC members. This is "a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property" (US flag code). LKY die, Singapore in trouble? What does it mean if upside down and also half-mast?

    The triangular CNA logo at the bottom left corner of the TV screen is now white and not red. Way to go, MediaCorp! I see all the PAP cadres wearing white. No red please!

    So far, no suicides, casualties or public disturbances yet, thank God.

  7. What can be softer than naming an orchid after him ? Remember when he was alive, he already said he doesn't want anything to be named after him. No statue, no busts, no sculpture, etc.

    But those enuchs really lost no time to curry favour with his PM son. That is how I see it.

    1. Chief eunuch the unctuous Khaw? Hope his $8 heart can hold up to the loss of Singapore's "Chief Gardener", no disrespect to the late LKY.

  8. Wah. He's first in running for the Oscar award for best actor with his performance at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. sniff sniff...there would be green Singapore if not for Mr Lee. sniff sob gasp

    1. typo * no green Singapore