“The guy in these images is Charles, a dear friend who I grew up with, and was my first muse and the first person I ever shot. He always came to mind during my earlier photography assignments because he possessed this confidence and spontaneity. We have all evolved since and these photos are part of an ongoing project that another close collaborator and I are working on to define masculinity in Singapore, taken 12 years after I had last shot Charles.
Again, he was the first person who I thought of when embarking on this series. It was not so much for nostalgia’s sake though, but because working with him reminds me of that period of exploration, and spirit of fun, curiosity and freedom we had when we were younger.
These photos were taken in the middle of nowhere in the wee hours of the night with my car’s headlights as the main light source – only for my car’s battery to go flat after. (We had to get another friend to come help us out of our predicament.) It was silly, but we had fun and still laugh about it. So, here’s to more late-night adventures and brighter days ahead.”
“The role of photography has already changed with time, the pandemic is just a temporary pause in the grand scheme of things.” – Stefan Khoo
On the disruption of current projects, and working around it
“I have had commercial projects that were shelved due to the pandemic. An interesting project had just come up and I was required to travel for it. We had most of the leg work completed already, and the excitement was building up, and we received the news that countries were closing their borders. That project was called off at the eleventh hour and the team was gutted. It was then that magnitude of the situation became real.
Those projects were bigger photographic productions that required a full team to come together physically to execute, so I approached this period as another moment of life put on hold. There are times when we feel like that but we overcome these feelings eventually.”
On what’s essential to him
“Living life in its full spectrum of ups and downs, pain and joy, is essential to me. It makes me feel alive and reminds me of my reality, and that drives my work as a photographer.”
On the changing role of photography amidst the pandemic
“The role of photography has already changed with time, the pandemic is just a temporary pause in the grand scheme of things. We are waiting to go out there to create in our different ways again.”
This article first appeared in the June 2020 Collaboration Issue of FEMALE.