From The Archives: Portraits, Series 1

More strange than the smells, sights, and sounds of a city, are the souls that inhabit it.


Meet Nila.

A street-child of maybe 6. She ran up two dust-caked streets, perhaps hearing from her friends of the strange man with two cameras slung around his body. She wanted a picture: I gladly humoured her.


Most encounters last less than ten seconds. I gesture to my camera, my grin spreading – most of the time, the furrows in their brow deepen, and they shake their heads furiously. But sometimes they nod, almost imperceptibly, and strike a pose. I quickly do what I must, then I do what I know I can: I walk over and show them the minuscule image on LCD of my Nikon and smile even wider.


Ephemeral, instantaneous. The flutter of shutter clicks, the furious squinting as my eyes furiously dart around the tiny viewfinder, checking for exposure, focus, framing.

It only is in Post when it becomes painfully clear: the stories in their eyes, the stories captured by the camera at those moments are what truly matter, and what live on.

Thank you for reading – Hi, I’m Ian Ling, an Economics and Political Science major here at the National University of Singapore.

I deal in light, life and lessons. Sometimes I travel, sometimes I capture images, but mostly I just live.

My Instagram can be found at @uncommontragedy.

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