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'You can feel the moment': Cameraman says he is lucky to have captured iconic image of NDP 2022

'You can feel the moment': Cameraman says he is lucky to have captured iconic image of NDP 2022

Mr Ishak Jamid (right) captured footage of Mr Azuan Tan crying during the National Anthem at National Day Parade 2022. (Photos: Screengrab/Mr Ishak Jamid)

SINGAPORE: Camera operator Ishak Jamid has shot at least 10 National Day Parades (NDPs) throughout his career, but he had a feeling the event on Tuesday (Aug 9) would be a little different.

One of Mr Ishak's tasks that day was to get crowd shots during the National Anthem, and because Singapore was holding a full-scale NDP for the first time after two years of pandemic restrictions, he reckoned that he could capture something beyond the usual happy faces.

The 49-year-old freelancer formerly with Mediacorp ended up shooting footage of a man crying during the National Anthem at this year's NDP.

The picture and the raw emotion it captured made headlines in recent days, with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong calling it an "iconic" image of the parade.

"When you are there, you can feel the moment that people are really touched - when they saw the visuals, the videos, and then before that there's an accident (with the Red Lion)," Mr Ishak told CNA on Thursday.

TV coverage director Lee Chew Yen, who chose what footage was broadcast live, described the image as a moment where it felt like everyone came together as "one people".

"Ishak connected with the crying man, and when I saw Ishak's shot on my feed, it connected with me as well," the 48-year-old senior producer with Mediacorp said.

"So I believe that when I took that shot and it was shown on national TV, it definitely connected with all our audience. In a way, we all came together that day."


The makings of the image started with how Mr Ishak routinely prepares for crowd shots, which he also does for other formats like variety shows.

As usual, he scanned the tiers before him at The Float, looking for a profile that stood out among the thousands of spectators in red. He needed to use his eyes because his camera's viewfinder could only give a narrow field.

The brief this year was to get shots of families watching the parade together again after capacity limits were scrapped, so Mr Ishak already had a few faces in mind. Before the cameras rolled, he had spotted some people sporting temporary tattoos and decorative face paint.

"It's nice, so that's how we can make an impact on the ground," he said. "From there, we give it to the director."

Ms Lee Chew Yen in Mediacorp's outdoor broadcast truck. (Photo: Lee Chew Yen)

In a broadcast truck on site, the director called the shots.

Ms Lee and her team stared at more than 14 screens piping back live feeds from cameras around the venue. Ms Lee had also prepared a camera script from the months of planning and rehearsals, so she roughly knew which camera to show at any point of the parade.

"But sometimes in the spur of the moment, I may just jump out of my script to catch something that is very impromptu," she said.

Back outside, the National Anthem started blaring over the speakers. Mr Ishak looked into his viewfinder and started rolling in a slow pan. One face, glistening and reflective, immediately caught his eye.

"It's different and I'm just trying to see exactly (what it is)," he recalled. "Then from there, I realised that he's crying, so I thought 'okay, that's my shot.'"

Mr Ishak remembered the man being at least 15 rows away from him in the upper tiers, meaning he had to slowly zoom in. This added a bokeh effect to what was already an emotional scene. "This guy had the mood already," Mr Ishak said.

While Mr Ishak's eyes were trained on the subject, his ears were bombarded by the ruckus that unfolded in the broadcast truck. Camera operators wore headsets so producers could give instructions on what to shoot.

Ms Lee saw Mr Ishak's shot on Camera 4 and yelled for it to be picked up. At this point, the live broadcast was showing Members of Parliament singing the National Anthem.

"I was just shouting very loudly. I was like, 'Take 4!' I can't really remember exactly what happened, because all our eyes were just on all the cameras," she said.

"We just happened to see Ishak offering this shot, and then we knew that this shot was really something that we had to take."

Media reports later identified the man as secondary school teacher Azuan Tan, 41. He told CNA he cried during the National Anthem as the parade's narrative - every Singaporean fighting through the pandemic - made him emotional.


When Ms Lee first saw the shot, she said she immediately knew that it needed to be broadcast.

"When I saw onscreen that this guy was so full of emotions and he was really singing his heart out ... it spoke to me in a way that I felt his emotions through the shot," she explained.

"We could also hear the anthem and all the audience standing up and singing out loud. I felt very touched ... I can't really explain much - it was just an instinct. I just felt I had to take it."

Ms Lee also praised Mr Ishak for getting the shot, stressing that the "director is only as good as the cameraman because the cameraman needs to have the eye for details".

Mr Ishak said his work was the combination of fortune and "good timing" between the crew involved.

"Before COVID, you couldn't get a lot of people crying. And during COVID, there was a limit on people watching (the parade) - there were no crowds so it was challenging for cameramen on the ground," he said.

"I've been in this line for so long and I've been giving a lot of visuals, not just for NDP. You try to give beautiful and nice shots, and it was my luck that I could give nice visuals for the nation to see."

Ms Lee said she is glad that the image of Mr Tan has generated such a warm reaction.

"He also hopes that this can inspire more Singaporeans to be proud of the country, to sing the anthem very proudly and all that. I feel that this is a very positive effect that will resonate in at least a number of people," she added.

"We can't plan these kinds of things. All I can say is that I'm happy that such positivity has come out from this iconic visual."

Source: CNA/hz(cy)


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