PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG: "YOU JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO"

When I received a call from the Singapore Prime Minister’s office asking to produce a series of Portrait Photography for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, I was delighted. During my 12 years career as the senior executive photographer in The Straits Times I had photographed a few ministers and presidents of Singapore in countless occasions including oversea trips for world conferences and meetings. But this time it was a very different one, it was one-on-one, it was exclusive. Just a few years before, I had the same privilege to photograph the founding father of the modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew for his memoir.

After the meeting with the Prime Minister’s secretary and the usual pre-shoot location scouting, we finalized the concepts, locations, date and time for the shoot, but it was postponed a couple of time. First it was due to his busy schedule, then it was mine, but eventually it happened, of course.

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On the day of the shoot, my assistant and I arrived at the Istana in the early morning, after getting all the set up ready we waited for the arrival of the Prime Minister. Shortly, I was informed of his arrival and I was called to see him. As I stepped into his office, there he was already walking toward me with his charming smile and the very approachable personality. Before I could greet him ‘Good morning, Mr Prime Minister’, he beat me with a warm ‘Hello Alan, long time no see!’. We had a little chat and I briefed him what we were gonna do, then he said to me the best thing any Professional Photographers would love to hear from someone with his status and power. ‘You just tell me what to do’, he said, and that was how the shoot began.

In less than three hours, a series of eight powerful up close and Personal Portraits were created within the Istana. The shoot went extremely well and the entire session was smooth with jokes and light-hearted conversation.

Till date, I would say that was one of the best, easiest, smoothest and most satisfying shoots I ever had.

Thanks to “You just tell me what to do”. To me, that sentence really means, professionalism, respect, and trust.

Alan Lim

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