Singaporean (1903-1989)

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.
A portrait of Srihadi Soedarsono


1903 Born in Hong Kong.
Family moves to Singapore when he was seven months old.
1909 Sent to live with his relatives in China.
1913 Returns to Singapore.
1914 Attends a private school in Chinatown.
1936 Works as a technical supervisor at United Engineers.
Purchases his first professional camera.
1942 Sets up his own engineering workshop at the back of his house, which included a photographic darkroom.
1952 Shoots Rowing at Dawn, which won the first prize in the Klang Photographic Exhibition and later brought him many awards at international salons and exhibitions.
1960-1973 Works as a commercial photographer and technician at Tien Wah Press.
1961 Becomes a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.
1966 Becomes Vice President of the Photographic Society of Singapore
1971 Receives the Merlion Pewter award for Fisherman’s Hurry from the 29th Singapore International Salon for Photography.
1972 Awarded the Honorary Excellence Distinction by the Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique.
1973 Retires from Tien Wah Press and begins running a provision shop in Kreta Ayer.
1976 Becomes an advisor for the Kreta Ayer Community Centre Camera Club.
1980 Named one of ten Honorary Outstanding Photographers Century (Seascape Specialist) by the Photographic Society of New York, USA.
1983 Awarded the Honorary Excellence Distinction by the Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique for the second time.
1984 Receives the Cultural Medallion for Photography.
1986 Publishes Yip Cheong Fun’s Pictorial Collection.
1989 Passes away in Singapore.

2006 An Ingenious Reverie – The Photography of Yip Cheong Fun, National Library, Singapore
1983 Solo Exhibition, Penang Museum, Penang, Malaysia
Solo Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore

2015 TRACE 01: To Measure the Depth of the Ocean, DECK, Singapore
2011 9 + 1 Honorary Exhibitors Photographic Exhibition, Kreta Ayer Community Club, Singapore