This local photographer highlights the issue of plastic pollution with an underwater photoshoot

Local photographer Andrew Lim has carved out a niche for himself, taking snapshots of the underwater world and turning the waters into a backdrop for his epic photoshoots. After publishing his first underwater photography book Silhouette of Serenity at 21, and donating part of the proceeds to charity, the former national rock-climber turned his focus to shark conservation, with a shoot last year aimed at bringing awareness to the issue.

The 27-year-old is also the founder of photo studio Drewperspectives, and his latest project is naturally an extension of his underwater focus. This time, he’s tackling plastic pollution.

The elaborate underwater photography project, titled “The Lamest Apocalypse,” features two recognizable Singaporean faces, each with their own fan bases. There’s Benjamin Kheng, the actor and singer from local quartet The Sam Willows, and Syrena, otherwise known as Singapore’s first “mermaid” (she founded a mermaid school here).

As to how he came up with the name, Lim explained: “We are not going to die from a cool zombie apocalypse but we are going to die from bubble tea cups and plastic bottles.”

“Syrena represents marine life being tangled, suffocated, and killed by a plastic ocean — an image we commonly associate with plastic pollution but humanized. Benjamin, on the other hand, represents mankind drowning in plastic right next to her,” he added. “The images are placed side by side — to illustrate that we live in the same environment and will eventually suffer the same fate. I wanted to capture the struggle and finally the drowning end of both species in the hands of plastic ‘kelps’.”

Photos: Andrew Lim/Drew Perspectives
Photos: Andrew Lim/Drew Perspectives

Shot at The NCO Club at JW Marriott, the end result is a striking set of environmental images that juxtaposes the mermaid with the stark reality of plastic waste in the ocean. Meanwhile, the shots of Kheng suffocated by marine debris are a contradictory presentation of how we need to change the way we consume and dispose plastic.

Plastic bottles, plastic bags, bubble tea cups and plastic containers form the spine of Lim’s project, and he personally collected these materials from trash bins around the island.

In case you didn’t know, approximately 700 million kg of plastic waste is discarded each year in Singapore, with less than 10 percent of them going to recycling bins.

Lim’s project aims to tackle the issue of plastic pollution and underscore the need to cut down the usage of single-use plastic in our daily lives.

As Kheng describes it, “I think what art can do is be as provocative as possible to elicit these kind of reactions in people because we just don’t get it. We don’t realise how dire the situation is.”

Watch the behind-the-scenes clip below.

This article, This local photographer highlights the issue of plastic pollution with an underwater photoshoot, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!