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PS Teo (1930 - 2005) - Portrait Photographer

By Kevin Khoo, Assistant Archivist

This portrait photograph of a young woman was taken in the 1950s and was among PS Teo’s prized art photographs. Source: PS Teo Collection

PS Teo was the chief photographer at his family owned photo studio, Studio Deluxe, and was arguably the finest portrait photographer Singapore has yet produced. He was famed for his black/white portrait photographs which won him internationally acclaim.

His works have been displayed at the galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists and at other prestigious international exhibitions. He was also granted numerous honours for his photography. In 1956, he was made an Associate of the Institute of British Photographers. In 1957, he became an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, and in 1958, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. All three of these awards were great honours.

At the time, PS Teo was one of only two photographers in the whole of British Malaya to have received an Associateship with the Institute of British Photographers, and the Associateship and Fellowship with the Royal Photographic Society were even more prestigious, ranking among the highest photographic honours that could be received throughout the British Commonwealth.

PS Teo passed away on the 11 February 2005, much beloved and respected by friends and family. NAS is honoured to be the guardian of this invaluable collection by one of the nation’s most talented photographers.

Why is this collection valuable?

This is a significant collection of photographs from one of Singapore’s most accomplished photographers. The collection charts the career of PS Teo from the 1950s to 1980s and reflects the different photographic techniques he employed. It also records the changing fashions in Singapore, in dressing, hairstyle, photographic angles and so on. The collection is thus invaluable record for researchers into the life and works of PS Teo, Singapore photography in the mid-20th century and the cultural and social history of Singapore through fashion.

Collection Highlights

1. Portrait photographs of influential Singaporeans. The PS Teo collection contains photographs of many prominent people in Singapore history, like President Benjamin Sheares, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Chief Minister David Marshall, Justice Tan Ah Tah, JB Jeyaretnam and many others.

Portrait picture of President Benjamin Sheares (left) and David Marshall (right)

Source: PS Teo Collection

2. This photograph titled “Portrait” was exhibited at the Institute of British Photographer’s Exhibition of Professional Photography at the Royal British Academy Galleries, London in 1955. The collection contains many other pieces of PS Teo’s art photography.

Source: PS Teo Collection