A bird flutters across the street to pick up a twig and returns to her branch.
A young couple sits on a bench and enjoys Chilli Crab from a paper container.
Long shadows are cast by flowering Yellow Flame tree, transformed into a black silhouette by the setting sun.
Each of these can be a common sight for a pedestrian or tourist in Singapore. Through Philipp H. Kindt’s eyes and the lens of his camera, however, he is turning them into beautiful artwork. “I want to show the same world that people think is boring, or regular, but through fresh eyes. A camera is a beautiful tool, but it is absolutely a tool, like a paintbrush. It’s up to the artist to make art.” Philipp plays with his empty camera bag that hangs off of one shoulder while we wait for our coffee outside the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I caught up with Philipp to discuss photography, travel, and of course Covid-19’s effect on his profession.
Philipp was born in Singapore to German parents. Growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s his parents travelled frequently for their work. Sometimes his older brother and him would stay in Singapore with caretakers. His older brother would take him to parks and museums on the weekends. Sometimes the kids would travel as well, and Philipp was exposed to art, people, poverty and riches, and amazing views. “The slums in Bombay, the skyscrapers and gold in Dubai, sausages and sauerkraut in Berlin, the ballet in Moscow, I know most kids don’t get to experience those kinds of things when they’re young, but Singapore is such a unique place to grow up: rich, cosmopolitan, cultured. I think it’s a natural place for young people to become artists.”
Of course, Covid changed the playing field. It’s been much harder, and more expensive, to travel. A professional photographer can make good money, hundreds, even thousands of dollars an hour for events like weddings and birthdays with the right clients. But new, ongoing, and constantly shifting restrictions not just on flights, but on entrance, hotels, events, and businesses, has made the travel side of travel photography very difficult, and added a lot of stress to the minds of independent businesspeople like Kindt. “Suddenly I feel like the Greek titan Atlas, the whole world is on my shoulders, it’s so close, but I can’t move. I’m stuck for what feels like an eternity.” Philipp may be exaggerating a bit, and I tell him. There’s still plenty to do in Singapore, and this situation surely is not permanent, but the exuberance of youth has made the young professional restless. He’s seen a lot of the world in his 26 years, and soon, the world may see a lot more of him.