Nicolas Damiens’ colourful photos capture the retro ambience of sunny Singapore

French visual designer and photographer Nicolas Damiens turns his lens to the sunlit streets of Singapore in City Pop, an ongoing photo series which uses vivid colours and striking compositions to capture the country’s perpetual summer.

Having moved from Paris to Singapore two years ago to further his visual design career, Nicolas Damiens has kept his creative juices flowing in his spare time by snapping the summery sights of the country. For just over a year now, this personal project, titled City Pop, has documented Singapore’s buildings, palm trees, and oceans in a striking, pastel-hued fashion that blends nostalgic appeal with a retro atmosphere.

City Pop is well-named, too. Every image bursts with smooth, hazy colours that appear to leap off the screen or from the surface of a print. Surprisingly, seeing as they are so well composed, each photo results from a spontaneous shoot, as Nicolas has found that Singapore constantly offers surprises around every corner.

Of course, though, these colourful photos are not without some intervention. “The primary aspect of my work involves photo editing and retouching: creating a well-balanced composition to emphasise the main subject, meticulously removing unnecessary details, and finally adjusting the colours to achieve the desired retro ambience,” Nicolas tells Creative Boom.

When it comes to seeing his surroundings in such an eye-catching light, Nicolas admits that travel broadens both your mind and your creative outlook. “Upon relocating to a new country, everything appears exotic, providing you with the opportunity to view everything from a fresh perspective,” he explains.

“Before this, I resided in Paris and New York, and I’ve always instinctively linked each city to a distinct colour scheme and music, likely due to my professional background.”

As for how he settles on his subjects, Nicolas reveals that his approach combines three key ingredients: geometry, minimalism and colour. “While it may often involve buildings, it can also include flowers, objects, or anything else that can be transformed into a visually captivating image,” he adds.

Out of all the images in the series, though, Nicolas’ favourite is one that further breaks the rules and highlights patterns in the world around him. “A friend requested that I combine two photos for a print, and while working on it, I observed a clear connection between the chopsticks and the architecture of a well-known building in Chinatown.

“The images appeared to reflect each other, which wasn’t the original intention, but it turned out to be quite fascinating.”

As with any side project, one of the biggest hurdles Nicolas has to clear when making City Pop is his professional schedule. By day, he works as an art director for the French advertising agencies Publicis Conseil and Marcel, but outside of that, he is free to indulge in his role as an “image maker” in any way he sees fit.

“City Pop is a side project that runs parallel to my main job, providing me with the liberty to express myself without the restrictions associated with client feedback in the advertising field,” he says. “It serves as an open playground, allowing me to enjoy the creative process wholeheartedly.”

And having run for over a year already, it sounds like City Pop is only getting started. “I plan to continue posting weekly on my Instagram account, and I am aiming for an exhibition in 2024,” he concludes.

“While digital platforms are wonderful for sharing my art, I deeply appreciate printed materials and can’t wait to see my City Pop creations come to life in a physical format.”

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