Foo Tee Jun



Singapore Infopedia

by Cheong, Ken

Background

Foo Tee Jun (b. 15 December 1935, Singapore–)is a highly regarded and artistically distinguished salon photographer. His involvement with professional photography began in 1963. Over the years, Foo perfected his skills and experimented with various darkroom techniques to create a series of remarkable works in the era before digital imaging. The achievements and length of his creative career, and his passionate teaching of photography, have earned him the praise and respect of many. In 1989, Foo Tee Jun was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Photography.2

Early life
Foo was born in Singapore to a Hainanese migrant family. Due to the Japanese Occupation, he began attending primary school only at the age of 12, enrolling in Aik Kun School at Primary 2 and moving to Shun Qun Primary School when he was in Primary 5.3 Foo completed his primary education and did well enough to enter The Chinese High School. However, as the eldest of eight children, he had to give up his secondary school studies so that his siblings could receive schooling.4


At a time when it was rare for people to own cameras, Foo’s father gave him a second-hand camera as a present for his 15th birthday. This sparked Foo’s interest in photography, but it was short-lived because he soon lost the camera.Foo worked as a technician in a dental clinic on Chulia Street. It was here that he resumed his interest in photography, as his boss would lend him his camera for use on outings during weekends or public holidays.

Foo’s desire to improve his photography skills led him to take his first formal photography course in 1962. It was a beginners’ class conducted by Lee Sow Lim at the Adult Education Board.7 The following year, he enrolled as a member of the Photographic Society of Singapore (PSS), where he attended a comprehensive elementary course and realised the potential of the camera to create works of art.8

Stimulated by the encouragement he received from having his pictures win top prizes in photography competitions, Foo devoted more time to the society and honed his darkroom techniques under the guidance of his mentor Tham Yew Fun.9 With his keen perception of and sensitivity to the interplay between light and shadow, Foo soon gained renown for his skilful application of darkroom techniques to achieve striking effects in his works.10 Foo’s perseverance and dedication in photography earned him the title of Artiste Distinction (AFIAP), conferred by the International Federation of Photographic Art, in 1972.11

Career
In the early 1970s, Foo left his job at the dental clinic to join the graphic art department of Life Records, a local recording company. The job required him to learn the different techniques of colour separation, which he later applied to his works. When the boss of Life Records discovered his photographic skills, Foo assumed the role of a photographer and took album cover photos of the company’s artistes such as Teresa Teng and Yu Yar.12

In 1974, Foo joined the Ministry of the Environment as a photographer. The regular working hours at the ministry allowed him to spend more time on his creative pursuits.13 He also began to conduct photography lessons in the Singapore Armed Forces Reservists Association (SAFRA) as a volunteer and on a part-time basis.14 Foo later taught photography in community centres as well, and took up advisory roles in the many photographic clubs formed during the 1970s and 1980s.15 

Achievements
Since the 1960s, Foo’s works have garnered numerous prizes and awards. As a teacher and advisor, he has also shared his knowledge generously with others. His contributions to the art of photography have earned him honorary fellowships from various local and regional photographic societies. In 1989, Foo was conferred the highest national award for contributions to art and its development in Singapore – the Cultural Medallion for Photography.16

In 1995, Foo retired from his job as a photographer with the Ministry of the Environment. He continued to teach photography and served as a judge for various photography competitions in Singapore and Malaysia.17 


Family
Foo married in 1970 and has a son and a daughter.18


Selected exhibitions
1982:
ASEAN Exhibition of Paintings & Photographs, Singapore.19
1982:
Exhibition of Contemporary Singapore Art – 10 Singapore Photographers, Singapore Festival of Arts.20

1986: Singapore Festival of Arts Photographic Exhibition.21
1988:
Singapore Festival of Arts Photographic Exhibition.22
1992:
Singapore Festival of Arts Photographic Exhibition.23
1993:
3rd ASEAN Travelling Exhibition of Painting, Photography & Children’s Art, Singapore.24

1994: Past, Present & Future – Photographic Exhibition, Singapore.25
1995:
Singapore Art ’95, Singapore.26
1997:
Singapore Art ’97, Singapore.27
1999:
Nokia-Singapore Art 1999 – City/Community, Singapore.28
2005:
Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition, Singapore.29
2006:
Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition, Singapore.30
2007:
Harmony of Minds: Celebrating Interfaith in Singapore, Singapore.31
2008:
Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition, Singapore.32
2010:
Solo exhibition, Photographic Stories of Foo Tee Jun, Singapore.33

2011: Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition, Singapore.34
2013: Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition, Singapore.35

Selected awards
1972:
Artiste Distinction (AFIAP) by the International Federation of Photographic Art.36
1973:
Associate (ARPS) of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.37
Photographic Art.38

1975: Excellence Distinction (EFIAP) by the International Federation of Photographic Art.39
1989:
Cultural Medallion for Photography, Ministry of Culture, Singapore.40



Author
Ken Cheong

Chine

References
1. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ)
2. Purushothaman, V. (Ed.). (2002). Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, pp. 120–121. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
3. Teo, K. G. (Interviewer). (2010, April 12). Oral history interview with Foo Tee Jun [Cassette recording no. 001508/06/01]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website:
http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
4. 
Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ)
5. Cheong, K. (Interviewer). (2009, August 11 & 25). Oral interview with Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from National Online Repository of the Arts (NORA).
6. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ)
7. Cheong, K. (Interviewer). (2009, August 11 & 25). Oral interview with Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from National Online Repository of the Arts (NORA); Teo, K. G. (Interviewer). (2010, April 12). Oral history interview with Foo Tee Jun [Casette recording no. 001508/06/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website:
http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
8. é‡‘辉. [Jin, H.] (1990, September–October). 在平凡中创作. PSS Journal, 8–9. Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore. (Call no.: RSING 770.60597 PSSMB); Cheong, K. (Interviewer). (2009, August 11 & 25). Oral interview with Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from National Online Repository of the Arts (NORA).
9. é‡‘辉. [Jin, H.] (1990, September–October). 在平凡中创作. PSS Journal, 8–9. Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore. (Call no.: RSING 770.60597 PSSMB); Cheong, K. (Interviewer). (2009, August 11 & 25). Oral interview with Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from National Online Repository of the Arts (NORA).
10. Cheong, K. (Interviewer). (2009, August 11 & 25). Oral interview with Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from National Online Repository of the Arts; ä»Žç”Ÿæ´»æ‰¾é¢˜æ – 化平凡为感性美. (1990, May 4). è”合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ)
12. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ); Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from Tribute.sg website: http://tribute.sg/artist-profile-foo-tee-jun
13. é‡‘辉 [Jin, H.] (1990, September–October). 在平凡中创作. PSS Journal, 8–9. Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore. (Call no.: RSING 770.60597 PSSMB)
14. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ)
15. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ); Winners, all. (1990 May 3). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from Tribute.sg website: http://tribute.sg/artist-profile-foo-tee-jun
16. Here and now…Foo Tee Jun. (1994). In Past, present & future photographic exhibition. Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore, pp. 61–70. (Call no.: RSING 779.095957 PAS-[AKS])
17. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ); Foo Tee Jun. Retrieved from Tribute.sg website: http://tribute.sg/artist-profile-foo-tee-jun
18. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ); Winners, all. (1990 May 3). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
19. ASEAN exhibition of paintings and photographs 1982: Landscape in contemporary art forms. (1982). Kuala Lumpur: ASEAN. (Call no.: RSING 759.959074 ASE)
20. Singapore Festival of Arts 1982. Exhibition of contemporary Singapore art: 10 Singapore photographers. (1982). Singapore: Ministry of Culture. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 SIN)
21. Photographic exhibition. (1986). Singapore: Ministry of Community Development. (Call no.: RSING 770.95957074 PHO)
22. Photographic exhibition. 1988 Singapore Festival of Arts photographic events. (1988). Singapore: Cultural Affairs Division, Ministry of Community Development. (Call no.: RSING 709.5957 PHO)
23. Distinguished ASEAN photographers: Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand: Singapore Festival of Arts 1992. (1992). Singapore: National Arts Council. (Call no.: RSING 770.92 DIS)
24. 3rd ASEAN travelling exhibition of painting, photography and children’s art. (1993). (Vol. 1.). Kuala Lumpur: National Art Gallery. (Call no.: RSING 709.5907459 THI)
25. Past, present & future photographic exhibition. (1994). Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore. (Call no.: RSING 779.095957 PAS)
26. Singapore Art '95: 12–16 August 1995, Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre. (1995). Singapore: National Arts Council. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 SIN)
27. Singapore Art 97, 29 August–2 September 1997, Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre. (1997). Singapore: National Arts Council. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 SIN)
28. City/community: Singapore art today. Nokia Singapore Art 1999. (1999). Singapore: National Arts Council. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 CIT)
29. Chow, C. (2005, July 14). $444 for 15-year-old’s photoThe Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. ç¬¬äºŒå±Šä¹‰å®‰å½±è‰ºå±• – 427个瞬间永恒. (2006, March 24). è”合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Harmony of minds: Celebrating interfaith in Singapore. (2007). Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore. (Call no.: RSING 205.095957 HAR)
32. ç¬¬å››å±Šä¹‰å®‰å½±è‰ºå±• – 荟萃150人259件摄影作品. (2008, April 1). è”合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. What’s up this week... and the weeks: Photographic stories of Foo Tee Jun. (2010, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. And the weeks ahead. (2011, April 8). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
35. Happenings – Arts. (2013, April 19). 
The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
36. Foo Tee Jun [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: National Library Board. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 770.92 FTJ)
37. Here and now…Foo Tee Jun. (1994). In Past, present & future photographic exhibition. Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore, pp. 61–70. (Call no.: RSING 779.095957 PAS-[AKS])
38. Here and now…Foo Tee Jun. (1994). In Past, present & future photographic exhibition. Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore, pp. 61–70. (Call no.: RSING 779.095957 PAS-[AKS])
39. Here and now…Foo Tee Jun. (1994). In Past, present & future photographic exhibition. Singapore: Photographic Society of Singapore, pp. 61–70. (Call no.: RSING 779.095957 PAS–[AKS])
40. Purushothaman, V. (Ed.). (2002). Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, pp. 120–-121. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)



Further resources
彩影30 (1966–1996). (1996). Singapore: Singapore Colour Photographic Society.
(Call no.: Chinese RSING 779 CYS) 

彩影: 四十周年. (2006). Singapore: Singapore Colour Photographic Society.
(Call no.: Chinese RSING 779 CY) 

Chua, T. M., et al. (1976). 5 on photography. Singapore: Wan Li Book.
(Call no.: RSEA 779 FIV)



The information in this article is valid as at 9 September 2014 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Rights Statement

The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.

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