Yip Cheong Fun (1903-1989) was one of Singapore's top pioneer photographers who won over 50 international awards for his narrative scenes of urban landscapes, seascapes and kampung life. Born in Hong Kong, he moved to Singapore in 1913 and began taking photographs for his family album when he bought his first Rolleiflex camera in 1936. This was the starting point of his illustrious photography career spanning more than six decades.
As Singapore underwent continuous urban redevelopment from the 1950s to the 1980s, Yip captured scenes of both the country’s transient past and constant growth. Even after his camera was confiscated during World War II, he continued his passion for photography and often travelled to Malaysia to capture the landscapes of Johor. He grew an interest in portrait photography around this time and was influenced by the Japanese photographers Shimooka Renjo and Uchida Kuichi. He also often visited the Singapore River and Chinatown with French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who inspired his fascination with candid moments and street scenes.
Yip attained numerous prestigious awards over the span of his lifetime such as the Merlion Pewter Award presented by the Singapore International Salon of Photography in 1971 and the Cultural Medallion for photography in 1984. He also held leadership and teaching positions at the Photographic Society of Singapore and the Kreta Ayer Camera Club.