Hobbyist photographer, John Teoh, first developed a passion for photography when he was introduced to the camera by a fellow enthusiast – his father. “When I was younger, we would go on photography explorations around the neighbourhood. From plants to buildings, we would snap anything we came across..”
However, John only started taking the hobby more seriously in recent years. Drawn to architectural elements, he enjoys training his lens onto skyscrapers, iconic buildings and of course, HDB housing blocks.
“I’ve always found our public housing flats to be very interesting. Instead of a homogenous design, the blocks have over the years, taken on unique facades that contribute to the identity of a particular town.”
John took up our offer to walk around Woodlands together to capture its sights and sounds. Excluding his trips to Woodlands Regional Library as a child, John has never really explored this particular part of Singapore.
The first stop was Woodlands Pasture, where the housing blocks feature an eye-catching shade of teal. Instead of featuring the blocks in a single-photo format, John combines three photos into a single frame, displaying them in strips of three on his Instagram feed.
“I wanted to simulate the widescreen viewing experience that we get in cinemas, and maximise the space of the frame,” he says.
The second stop was Woodlands Mart, one of the estate’s many neighbourhood centres. “I love how Woodlands Mart is bustling with activities and life. From barbershops to bubble tea stores, it caters to all the daily needs of residents here. It’s little wonder that neighbourhood centres are popular with residents running errands.”
Designed to cater to residents of all lifestyles and ages, Woodlands is also home to nature hideouts and play facilities – a variety of which can be found at Admiralty Park. The largest park in the northern part of Singapore, Admiralty Park comprises a diverse mix of mangrove, riverine and open grassland habitats that are home to over 100 species of flora and fauna.
In addition to walking trails that bring visitors closer to nature, the park is also home to 26 slides, the largest number that can be found in any park in Singapore.
Surrounded by lush greenery and colourful structures, the Admiralty Park Playground has been enjoying popularity amongst photographers such as John. Just a week earlier, John was at the same spot for a pre-wedding photoshoot, where he captured photos of soon-to-be-newlyweds.
“It’s interesting to see how residents have created special moments in recreational spaces. For instance, the couple I photographed shared that the playground holds many happy memories for them as they used to frequent it. Hence they wanted the space to be part of their special day,” John explains.
We moved on to Woodlands Waterfront Park, another popular recreational spot a 15 minute walk away. Not only is its 400m-long broadwalk the longest of its kind in Singapore, the jetty is also the perfect spot for leisure strolls and sunset watching.
For John, the scenic views are only part of the park’s appeal. “There’s a tinge of nostalgia about the jetty. Here, you can watch people fishing, and families out together enjoying the view. The rustic design of the park makes it raw and relatable, something I find unique.”
As the first of the evening light approaches, we arrived at the last stop – Marsiling Park. The first feature of the revamped park that caught John’s eye was the boardwalk. “I love the view from the boardwalk,” John says while snapping away on his camera.
Pointing out the Chinese-inspired pavilions along the lake, John likens Marsiling Park to Chinese Gardens. “The pavilions add a nice aesthetic touch to the park and give the park more character,” he comments.
“I love how the trail around the lake leads to a big open field,” John adds. “As someone who loves photographing landscapes, I appreciate hidden gems like wide-open spaces in the heartland.”
Photos courtesy of John Teoh (@jawnteoh)