Zakaria Zainal was born and raised in Singapore in 1985, as a Malay-Muslim son in a Chinese dominated society. He makes meaning of the world through his photographs. Enticed by the visceral changes of a former monarchy’s transition to a federal republic in Nepal, he first picked up his camera.


Artist Bio.


Zakaria Zainal makes meaning of the world through his photographs. Enticed by the visceral changes of a former monarchy’s transition to a federal republic in Nepal, he first picked up his camera. His first monograph, Our Gurkhas: Singapore Through Their Eyes is an anthology of portraits and anecdotes of the retired Singapore Gurkhas as they reminisce about life in the Lion City, from the 1950s till today.  Subsequently, he co-wrote The Invisible Force: Singapore Gurkhas – a continuation of his fascination for the Singapore Gurkha diaspora.

Recently, with a team, he documented the living histories of people who once lived on the islands of southern Singapore titled Island Nation

His photographs and stories have appeared in various publications both in Singapore and Asia. He graduated from the NTU’s School of Communication, where he also teaches campus journalism. While he continues making pictures, Zakaria has been moving away from traditional documentary work to photographing closer to home – or even closer to his heart.


Selected Links

2015 – Works That Captured The Imagination, The Business Times. Singapore. 

2015 – Forgotten Singapore: evicted islanders grieve for lost 'paradise'. South China Morning Post.

2015 – The last Malay islanders in Singapore. Malaysiakini. 

2014 – 30 recall Little India riot in new book, The Straits Times. Singapore.

2014 – Mothership Q&A: A glimpse of Gurkhas book authors Chong Zi Liang and Zakaria Zainal. Mothership.

2012 – Our Gurkhas. Nepali Times. 

2012 – Singapore Gurkhas: Chat with Zakaria Zainal. iremembersg. 



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Recognition, Talks & Selected Clients



2012 – TODAY. Youth Focus. Singapore.

2012  Honourable Mention, Photo Annual Awards 2012 for Our Gurkhas. Czech Republic.

2012 – Honourable Mention, Fotovisura Grant 2011 for Our Gurkhas. United States. 

2012 – Selected Artist, The Philanthropic Museum. Singapore.  

2013 – Our Gurkhas, Verve Photo: The New Breed of Documentary Photographers. 

2015 – Singapore Gurkhas Photography Museum, The Invisible Photographer Asia. Singapore. 



2012 – CUT 2012: New Photography From Southeast Asia. Valentine Willie Fine Art Gallery. Singapore (Group). 

2012 – Singapore Survey: New Strange Faces. Valentine Willie Fine Art Gallery. Singapore (Group).

2012 – Open Call. 3rd Singapore International Photography Festival. Singapore (Group).

2012 – Our Gurkhas: Singapore Through Their Eyes, A Traveling Exhibition. Nepal (Solo).

2012 – Our Gurkhas: Singapore Through Their Eyes. Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival. Nepal (Solo).

2012 – Our Gurkhas, DIVERCITY. Singapore International Foundation. Singapore (Group). 

2013 – NOMAD under SIPF, 5th Dali International Photo Festival. Yunnan, China (Group).

2013 – NOMAD under SIPF, TWENTY Noorderlicht International Photofestival. Groningen, Netherlands (Group). 

2015 – With The Gurkhas. Singapore Writers Festival 2015. The Arts House (Solo). Singapore.   

2016 – Singapore Gurkha Photography Museum. Singapore International Photography Festival 2016 (Group). Singapore.  


Selected Talks

2011 – Our Gurkhas. TEDxYouth Singapore. Singapore.

2013 – Where is home for Singapore Gurkhas. TEDx Singapore. Singapore.


Selected Commercial Clients

Grundfos Singapore / Singapore Memory Project / Shinnyo-en Singapore / Methodist Welfare Services / Studiowonghuzir / Checkpoint Theatre / W!LD RICE / Schneider Electric / MAN / Lighting Planners Associates / Dragon Wealth / AR43 / Gypsied / Pictet / Fullerton Healthcare Group 

Selected Editorial Clients

Le Nouvel Observateur / art4d / FT Weekend / POSKOD / Nepali Times / Republica / Singapore Architect / Caring Magazine (CGH) / Challenge / MODUS / More Space / SCMP / Kaleidoscope Media


Credits & Copyright

Photography & text by Zakaria Zainal. All images copyright © 2008-2018 Zakaria Zainal. Zainal & Zainal LLP (Reg No: T11LL1809H). All images and text on this website are property of Zakaria Zainal and are protected by international copyright laws. No images or text may be used or reproduced in any form without the written permission of Zakaria Zainal. Photographs on this website are available for collection as limited edition prints. Do get in touch in the contact form.