“The body of work is precise in its execution, close to the subject matter,
uniform in its style, and coherent in the delivery of information about the program.
The photographer is present in the images where it is required
and distant where is pertinent.”

During second semester every year, all regularly scheduled Singapore American School (SAS) high school classes take a week-long hiatus while students and teachers participate in Interim Semester, an experience “designed to enhance the curriculum by providing high school students with diverse educational experiences [that stretch] beyond the traditional classroom” in Singapore, across Asia and around the world.

Interim Semester courses fall into three broad categories: Global Studies with an active participation and awareness of our interconnectedness with people and cultures around the world; Eco-Adventures which are designed around the belief that the outdoors provides the greatest context for humans to grow socially, emotionally and academically; and Service Learning experiences subscribe to the model that knowledge leads to compassion, and compassion to action.

As part of my continued creative collaboration with SAS, I was commissioned by the Communications Department to accompany and photograph two separate Interim Semester classes on their READ Bhutan service learning experiences to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom.  I have traveled to Bhutan both personally and professionally many times over the years, and it is doubtless the most magical and photogenic nation I have ever had the privilege to visit, so for me this was a special creative brief on many levels. The result of my seven days spent with the SAS students and faculty — a documentary visual record of their experiences, adventures and volunteer work for SAS to have in their archives and use in their wide array of communications materials — can be found below.

This week I received some fantastic news about this photography from Kyle Aldous, the Director of Strategic Communications at Singapore American School (SAS): his team submitted my series

of Bhutan reportage to the 2019 Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Awards and this ‘Immerse. Serve. Soar.’ body of work was awarded a Gold Medal for Series of Related Photographs.

As background, CASE is a global association for professionals in educational advancement — alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and advancement services — who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society.  And the annual CASE awards recognize many hundreds of institutions whose talented staff members advanced their institutions through innovative, inspiring and creative ideas.  The photography awards specifically “acknowledge superior accomplishments that have lasting impact, demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and deliver exceptional results.”

The judges described my SAS photography as a “[t]echnically adept, emotionally potent photojournalist series of people in environment” and went on to explain that “[t]his series got our attention for its original approach to documentary photography.  The body of work is precise in its execution, close to the subject matter, uniform in its style, and coherent in the delivery of information about the program.  The photographer is present in the images where it is required and distant where is pertinent.”

Excitingly, this is actually the second time that the work I’ve made for SAS has been awarded by CASE: in 2017 one of the images I made as part of SAS’ annual SOAR campaign was awarded a Silver Medal for Individual Photography.

Watch a short video of the SAS READ Bhutan Interim Semester experience, made by my friend and talented creative partner, Kencho Wangi.

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