Based in Singapore, German-born, Sandra Macheroux is a street and cityscape photographer, whose works on canvas, photographic paper and metal, featuring iconic and lesser-known landmarks of Singapore, have garnered many fans. She had actually dreamt of being an animal photographer, having been a vet for twenty years, but as she says, "my new career had a mind of it's own where logic didn't seem to apply". Through a series of events, she ended up specialising in scenes of Singapore and teaching photography. I spoke to Sandra about how she learnt to let creativity take charge.
For 20 years my whole life revolved around this amazing career and of course, animals. I practiced my much loved profession in Australia, Hong Kong, UK, Thailand and Singapore. It was a very demanding but equally rewarding calling. I became a proud mama for the first time 12 years ago. Unfortunately I soon realised that not being able to be at the clinic until all hours of the night to look after my patients and to perform surgeries was starting to get me down. I worked part time for many years and enjoyed it, but the passion was gone.There was an empty space within me, that needed filling to make me feel good about myself and my work.
Five years ago, when we were still living in London, my husband bought a Nikon D5100 with an 18-105 kit lens. Little did I know that this camera would allow me to fill that space, unleash a creativity that I had no idea was residing within my science orientated 'Veterinarian Self' . Initially I was intimidated but I kept experimenting with the camera.
On moving to Singapore, I enrolled in a course at the The Photography Institute . I just felt that I needed to do this. All my life I have had moments where I get a strong feeling to do something that wasn't quite explicable or even reasonable. I call it my 'dolphin vibe', others call it a sixth sense. These moments have often been positive opportunities in my life that could easily have been missed if I hadn't paid attention to them. It is so important to trust your inner voice! Needless to say I loved the course. It opened up a whole new world to me.
I capture to create! My photography touches hearts and gives joy and inspiration to people. My teaching encourages people to step out of their comfort zone and it empowers them to create beautiful images themselves. I love colour and I like capturing the beauty in the ordinary things all around us . My photography reflects that. Old doors, windows, peeling paint and shooting in a tropical downpour captivate my heart. Stunning modern architecture, reflections on water and long exposure night photography take my breath away. I will then choose the best shots, print them on the medium I feel is best suited and display them at my gallery in Haji Lane in Singapore. It is all very much driven by emotion and the need to be creative. This is in stark contrast to my previous scientific professional life. I am loving the change and it seems my customers do too. Now that I have found my niche and style I am focussing on becoming better and better at it.
Creativity is the rocket fuel. It will take over at certain times and push you to work until the result feels right. Then it can disappear and there is no way you can force it to come back. It is that elusive free-spirited friend many of us have in our lives.
Everyday life inspires me. Living in the moment, seeing the beauty in the details that we may rush past every day. My photographer's eye looks for colours, textures, patterns, contrasts ( like old and new), ultra modern architecture and dilapidated buildings. I want to keep my shots real, but at the same time captivating. Nature is my greatest inspiration. I am also inspired by other photographers. Of course the legends like Ansel Adams and Annie Leibovitz are fascinating but I equally enjoy the work of local photographers who share their work on social media in Singapore.
Nowadays most of my clients purchase the finished print. I do offer customisation and then it is all about what the client wants – size , material, which images go into the collage etc . We do this at the gallery in Haji Lane and then I send them the artwork via email for approval. It is very realxed and quite quick. Some clients know exactly what they want, others can’t quite ‘see’ what will work for them and their home. I will do my best to help them to design or purchase a piece that is going to make them happy for years to come.
Before every assignment, of course, I clean and check my my gear, pack the specific things I need to get for the shoot ahead and ensure I have spares in case of equipment failure. When I used to do family shoots I was a lot more regimented. I still plan a lot for events and classes. Yet for street photography I often just hop in the car and start driving. Then it comes to me where I should go to.
I go out to areas of interest with camera in hand and then walk the back streets, main streets and sometimes go up into carparks and other areas to look for the best vantage points. I may speak to other photographers about where they took certain shots and if they are willing to share the location (many are not and I fully get that) then I will head there.
My creativity usually sets in after walking around for 15 min. I will then switch into photography mode and suddenly I can see all the gems around me. Often I get shots that no one could plan. Like the double rainbow over Marina Bay Sands or the elusive Singapore otters having a frolick in the grass area near the Singapore flyer. It may sound odd but I trust my intuition to lead me to great shots. Other times I will of course head out with a definite shot in mind. I will schedule the time of the day for best light and general conditions. If I am stressed out about other aspects of my life it takes longer and may not happen at all. Creativity can’t be forced.
This was my first limited edition print. I have sold all 25 copies to wonderful people who could also feel the magic that I can feel in this image. For many it was love at first sight. It was also the first time that I was brave enough to print something which is not mainstream and to make it a limited edition. This print taught me to believe in myself and to allow my creativity to take charge. It also taught me to stand up to some people who copied this piece and to protect my rights as an artist. It was like a mentor to me.
Haji Lane In The Rain
I love this limited edition print. I took the image before I had the gallery in Haji Lane. It was pouring down during the monsoon season and I had to cancel the photography class I was teaching as it was too wet. I got stuck at this corner as I did not have an umbrella. I was quite grumpy by then. Yet suddenly, I noticed how beautifully the raindrops were bouncing on the street and the lovley rich colours of the wet furniture and buildings.
Marina Bay At Dawn
I took this shot on my birthday last year. My family granted me the wish of heading down to Marina Bay to see the sun rise on my special day. It is so still and peaceful at that time of the day. Even the Merlion is asleep.
You can see more of Sandra's work on her website.