Markets by Rizal Muhammad

“To me, street pho­tog­ra­phy is quite ther­a­peu­tic, no pres­sure, just wan­der­ing the streets and cul­ti­vat­ing the eye in spot­ting inter­est­ing things. The excite­ment of street pho­tog­ra­phy lies in wait­ing for that cru­cial moment when every­thing falls into place. You can nev­er plan it, it just hap­pens.” A pho­to fea­ture by Rizal Muham­mad.

Mar­kets like the night bazaars and wet mar­kets have been a time­less part of the Sin­ga­pore land­scape. Night bazaars tend to spring up every few months in the hous­ing estates or dur­ing spe­cial occa­sions like Chi­nese New Year, Hari Raya and Deep­avali.

hari raya night market

Haggling at Geylang

Hag­gling and elas­tic pric­ing are part and par­cel of shop­ping at these places.

burger flipper

They’re filled with all sorts of col­or­ful char­ac­ters hawk­ing wares from car­pets, savory snacks and tra­di­tion­al cos­tumes.

Ali Baba and his Clothes

Loud hail­ers and play­ing dress up are de-rigueur for many stall­hold­ers dur­ing the bazaar to attract patrons to their stalls.

In recent years in cook­ie cut­ter Sin­ga­pore, wet mar­kets are being phased out in favor of super­mar­kets. These chain super­mar­kets offer a larg­er vari­ety of goods, and some­times at cheap­er prices too. But why lose the allure of the wet mar­ket?

kiddie rides

Many of us sure­ly remem­ber wak­ing up on Sun­day morn­ings, going for fam­i­ly break­fasts at the neigh­bor­hood cof­fee shop and trudg­ing to the adjoin­ing wet mar­kets. Our par­ents would arm us with a few 10 cent coins so that we could ride on these ‘kid­dy ride’ machines to dis­tract us while they shop for gro­ceries.

kids at a market

Smelly, wet and noisy, these are the things that make the wet mar­ket what it is. We have been buy­ing our gro­ceries from the same peo­ple for years. It has evolved from a sim­ple week­end busi­ness and finan­cial trans­ac­tion into a per­son­al rela­tion­ship. It is this per­son­al touch that makes the wet mar­ket tru­ly spe­cial in most of our hearts.

is this the one u want?

my family's fishmonger for many years now


With­out need­ing us to say any­thing, the fish­mon­ger will know to cut the fish into 4 slices (for our fam­i­ly of 4) just the way my mum likes it. He remem­bers which fish my mum prefers and will actu­al­ly dis­suade my mum from buy­ing fish that he thinks my mum won’t enjoy.


clean up

The butch­er usu­al­ly greets us with “dag­ing 2 kilo as usu­al eh kak?” (the usu­al 2 kilos of meat?). On spe­cial occa­sions, he takes pre-orders from us with­out the need to pay a deposit. He goes out of his way to order spe­cial cuts or mar­i­nat­ed meat for us if we inform him a week in advance.

Night bazaars and wet mar­kets hold a spe­cial place in many of our hearts because they’re so quaint, with the cacoph­o­ny of dialects and ban­ter­ing being tossed around and the per­son­al touch of many of the stall­hold­ers. The thrill of hag­gling for low­er prices, the smell of cooked food while min­gling with the throngs of oth­er shop­pers makes shop­ping at night mar­kets such an expe­ri­ence. It’s such a depar­ture from the clin­i­cal and order­ly side of Sin­ga­pore that step­ping into a mar­ket feels like tak­ing a step back into the past.

Rizal Muham­mad is a 25 year old under­grad­u­ate who hopes to grad­u­ate from NUS next year. He has been tak­ing pho­tos ever since he got his first dig­i­tal cam­era in 2004, a hum­ble Sony 3.2mp cam­era. Sad­ly, he lost that cam­era while over­seas and bought a Lumix dig­i­tal cam­era before final­ly sav­ing enough mon­ey to get his first DSLR in 2009, the Lumix G1. It was then that he became real­ly inter­est­ed in street pho­tog­ra­phy — try­ing to find the inter­est­ing in the every­day mun­dane things.

This set con­sists of pic­tures that Rizal has tak­en over the years, span­ning all the cam­eras he used to own, from his old Sony, to his Lumix and final­ly his DSLR. Some of these were also shot on film, which is his lat­est pas­sion. Rizal thinks that shoot­ing on film is great, because with only 36 shots on a roll, it forces him to slow down and eval­u­ate if a scene is worth cap­tur­ing and try­ing to get the shot right the first time.

View more of Rizal’s pho­tog­ra­phy on Flickr.

No Comment

  • huixin

    June 7, 2011

    nice! i love the wet mar­kets actu­al­ly, cos they’re mem­o­ries of walk­ing through wet dirty floors which i had to be real care­ful about cos my flip flops flick all the water up to my legs if i walk too care­less­ly, and mem­o­ries of shop­ping with the par­ents. and i love gey­lang serai just before break­ing fast!

  • Leica Nomad

    November 27, 2011



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