01 July 2021

Magical Sunrises in Pasir Ris Captured by a Nat Geo Photographer

Read how Singapore-based Jayaprakash Bojan, National Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year for 2017, spent 100 days chasing sunrises and ended up getting answers to some big life questions

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by Jayaprakash Bojan This wildlife photographer has no regrets quitting corporate life to pursue his passion for travel and nature.

Over the last year, I have not missed many sunrises. I usually start my day around 4am, and by about 5:30am I’m wandering around the beach in Pasir Ris Park, waiting and watching the sky transform.

A few months ago though, I found myself falling into this routine and I couldn’t help but feel a little restless. What was I doing all this for? Why the sudden fascination with sunrises? I had these questions lingering at the back of my mind, so I decided to do some introspecting and ended up documenting 100 days of me chasing sunrises. The lessons, to say the least, were eye-opening.

Having travelled the world for nature and wildlife photography, I have been blessed with the opportunity to catch truly majestic sunrises across different parts of Africa, India, Japan, as well as other parts of Southeast Asia. I’m now based in Singapore and with this pandemic we’re all dealing with, I quickly realised being able to roam the globe freely was something I took for granted for a very long time.

Another thing I quickly realised was how little I’ve explored my own backyard. I’ve been so caught up with travelling overseas for my work that I never saw the beauty of this city I call home… until now. Case in point: Pasir Ris Park. I live a stone’s throw away from this 70-hectare seaside park, and I never knew how much of a biodiversity hotspot it was. Birdwatchers flock here to photograph and observe not-so-common raptors and owls, educational tours focusing on intertidal critters are held along the coast – I guess you could say it took a pandemic for all this to be revealed to me.

It’s unfortunate that many of us are unable to travel right now, but I’m grateful to still have access to a beach, where I can watch the sun rise every day. I challenged myself to answer the question of why I do this daily. Waking up at 4am isn’t easy, and neither is chasing and waiting for something that may never come. Sunrises aren’t always pretty, and some days it may feel like a complete waste of time. Do I just want to snap gorgeous photos? To some extent, yes, but then it hit me: this is my way of connecting with nature, and connecting with my soul.

In the wee hours of the morning, the roads are quiet and most are asleep in their beds. Life is still. Then there’s me, all alone at the beach, waiting for that magical transformation in the sky. Like never before, I take in these moments of solitude with Mother Nature and myself. This is a time and place for me to recalibrate if I’m feeling down, for me to find my motivation if I’m lost, or for me to simply think clearly if I’m in a rut. I also find my mindset shifting for the better, and thanks to this little ritual my gratitude for life and the little things around me have grown immensely. This is my process of self-discovery, and I welcome it with open arms.

Spending time in nature is known to make us happier, healthier, and more creative. I know that’s what it does for me, so may be it’s time for you to get out there and do just that. Add the act of catching sunrises to that equation and it could be a new beginning for you and your soul.

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