SEA Games 2017 Shooting for Team Singapore one photograph at a time
29 August 2017
By Matthew Mohan
Andrew Tan may be a Malaysian, but when he steps onto the field of play at the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, his focus is trained on the nearest Team Singapore athlete.
A volunteer photographer for Sport Singapore (SG), the 54-year-old is clear where his loyalties lie.
Said Andrew: “My job is to get the best photographs as fast as possible and my focus is on Team Singapore. If Team Singapore doesn’t perform for some reason in an event, and there is Team Malaysia there, of course I will cheer for them. I’ve got the best of both worlds but my priority is very clear.”
Andrew is one of the 18 photographers who will contribute pictures to SportSG’s coverage of the biennial tournament. The photographs are then used on SportSG’s website and Facebook page, and are distributed to local media.
In charge of Andrew and his team is SportSG manager Gwendalynn Kho.
“There’s a lot of team spirit within the volunteer group,” said Gwendalynn. “They had a good experience shooting together at the 2015 SEA Games and want to do it again with their buddies.”
According to Gwendalynn, all 18 photographers also volunteered in 2015.
With SportSG having more than 300 volunteer photographers back at home, those who shoot at the Games are selected based on their experience and the frequency of their contributions to local activities.
Gwendalynn said: “The team you see here are the ones who stayed the course and continue to contribute to SportSG during their free time.”
Having worked in a electronics company for the last 10 years, Andrew is now semi-retired. In his free time, he conducts travel photography workshops, and also teaches in camera schools.
Yet, the photography enthusiast -- who says he has spent about S$25,000 on sports photography equipment -- believes that his work as a volunteer is worthwhile.
“I do it for the passion and to make our sports more visible, because its not easy to get good sports photographs,” said Andrew. “It does help attract non-sporting people to be more conscious of what’s happening.”
Gwendalynn praised Andrew, saying: “He knows the gist of the work process, is very on the ball and is the only one who has volunteered all the way up to the ASEAN Para Games period.”
Gwendalynn is one of five people who manage the content hub for Sport SG at the SEA Games, distributing photographs and articles for every sport that Team Singapore contests.
Having spent over 30 years in Singapore, Andrew considers himself a local through and through. “Every success that I got from the photography world, I got when I was in Singapore -- not in Malaysia,” said Andrew. “Because of that, of course I represent Singapore.”
A veteran of three SEA Games, he also mentors the young photographers who are less experienced at covering sports events.
“I guide them by telling them what to look out for and where to shoot, so they can focus on that,” Andrew said. “At the end of the day, the whole team has to deliver. I can only cover the area I am assigned to but everybody has to work as a team to deliver the full package.”