The team behind Our Grandfather Story is always on the lookout for authentic local stories that capture the essence of what our grandfathers would tell us. PHOTO: OGS
Since it was launched in October, “Our Grandfather Story," an advanced photojournalism project by four Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information students, have been making waves online. The nostalgia-themed photojournalism series has gained almost 200,000 views on Facebook so far, and counting.
“Our Grandfather Story was really the intersection in our venn diagram of ideas,” said third-year undergraduate, Cheah Wenqi (CS’18), the director of the project. Through their brainstorming process, Cheah shared that her group came to the conclusion that all of them had a similar theme of ‘belonging’ in all their ideas.
“It was really an ‘eureka’ moment,” she said. “We decided on ‘Our Grandfather Story’ because we wanted to capture the essence of stories that our grandfathers would tell us.”
“The photojournalism industry is not dead, but I’ve observed that there is a need to reinvent traditional photojournalism and traditional platforms.”
Cheah, together with her three group members - Ng Kai Yuan (CS’18), Matthew Chew (CS’18) and Carine Tan (CS’18) - exhibited “Our Grandfather Story," as part of a course project that was aimed at getting students to source for sustainable online avenues for their photojournalism work. Other recent WKWSCI photojournalism projects such as “Last Weeks with Rochor” and “Bidadari and Beyond," have also been making their mark in Singapore.
Since October last year, the creators of “Our Grandfather Story” have started a self-titled digital media publishing company with the vision of telling nostalgic local stories through a series of videos. The company produces digital media content for clients looking to tell stories with their brands.
Samuel He (CS’08), a photojournalism lecturer at WKWSCI, has been pushing his students to go beyond just creating content. He said that students must also play an active role in finding the right audience for their works. “Photojournalists must now see having a social media strategy as part of their job scope,” he said.
While digital media might be fast transforming the way photojournalism is produced and consumed, Cheah remains upbeat.
“The photojournalism industry is not dead, but I’ve observed that there is a need to reinvent traditional photojournalism and traditional platforms,” she said.
Besides “Our Grandfather Story," other photojournalism projects from WKWSCI have also gained much attention online.One such example would be “Last Weeks with Rochor”, an exhibition held by the basic photojournalism module students. What started out as a class project eventually gained the attention of local newspapers such as Wanbao and The Straits Times. The project shares the stories of Rochor residents, who were affected by the recent demolition of Rochor Centre, an iconic estate of rainbow coloured buildings. The “Last Weeks with Rochor” exhibition held at Rochor Centre in late October attracted about 1,000 visitors.
Third-year-student Toh Ting Wei (CS’18), project manager for “Last Weeks with Rochor”, said that the photo exhibition event was very successful and revealed the appeal and effectiveness of photojournalism. “Even if the kids and the elderly at the event could not read or understand the captions, just the images alone were enough to attract them and tell stories,” said Toh.
It is such forms of storytelling that Our Grandfather Story, as a company, hopes to be able to offer. A key goal of the company is to share interesting stories of Singaporeans through their lenses.
Despite the team’s ambitious dreams, Cheah remains humble about the project’s aspirations.
“I just hope that we will always be proud of the product that we make,” she said. “That we never lose the spirit of creativity and innovation, since that is at the heart of what we do.”