Janice Loo


The oldest known photographs of Singapore were taken by Europeans in the early 1840s. Janice Loo charts the rise of commercial photography in the former British colony. Photography is the “method of recording the image of an object through the action of light on a light-sensitive material”. Derived from the Greek words photos (“light”) and graphein (“to draw”), photography was invented by combining the age-old principles of the camera obscura (“dark room” in Latin) and the discovery in the 1700s that certain chemicals turned dark when exposed to light. However, it was not until 1839 that the daguerreotype, the earliest practical method of making permanent images with a camera, was introduced. Named after its French inventor Louis Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, the daguerreotype spread across the world, and soon found its way to Singapore. A Marvellous Invention The earliest known description of photography here is found in the Hikayat ­Abdullah (Stories of…

Public housing is a Singapore success story, but the early years of high-rise living were sometimes a bittersweet experience. Janice Loo pores through the pages of Our Home magazine during its 17-year run.