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No one Enjoy to be Ordinary… (nEbO)

It is going to be a wordy post… read if you are interested on what I say…

Our helper is home for holiday and one more sleep before we depart on our much deserve break after a big 2014 and biggest month for 2015… We are busy… but never too busy to serve people who choose us to preserve their memories…

I feel a lot nicer without the helper being around, busy as it seems, I feel that I am more connected to my children, do enjoy that. May not something that I like to do it every single day, but for majority of time, amongst that chaotic of having 3 little boys at home, I do learn to see simple things that makes them happy… that is to have me and my wife around them.

Over the weekend, I was invited by one of the youth club from NTUC to give a talk regarding to my photography philosophy as well as lighting last weekend to a group of young and passionate youth.

I took an immediate interest in offering my expertise to these people, because I enjoy looking at the “hungry-ness” of the youth and I hope to offer them a glimpse of what my world as a professional photographer looks like…

The truth is, I enjoy to be ordinary… being normal… Many in our youth are looking to achieve the impossible but as we aged, we come to a term that achieving a practicality of happiness is important.

I was ask about my business, Tomato Photo, and my approach… they are reminded that this is my approach and it fits well with my lifestyle… it is for me… may not for everyone.

Tomato Photo is a very unique business that build around my personal lifestyle, things that make sense to me and things that make me happy. Many may have notice that we don’t leave our number on our online present for all of 2014, we pull out on all the print advertising since mid of 2014… I couldn’t be happier… we all have 24 hours in our life… I like to get my 7-8 hours sleep every night… I spend roughly 240 hours a month working…

Late nights? I spend watching movies with my wife… not editing.

Without those “how much do you charge?” phone calls, I concentrate in the creative process… like doing nothing… somehow, I am the most creative when I spend time with myself doing nothing other than thinking… I know I have the technical ability, photography technique and people skills that allow me to create my work… I just need to “come out” with something that I want to do and with that… I need to do nothing.

Regarding to our charge, to many clients who haven’t give us a go, it is expensive… but surely, if I want more business, wouldn’t it makes more sense if I charge cheaper?

The market has a fair share of low price option range from a free photography to $18 groupon deals… I receive no less than 5 calls from groupon in the space of 4 years to get me to do that… Anyway… people do things for a reason… so my charge reflect the method I use to control the volume that I shoot monthly. Ideally, I am happy with 20 shoots a month, but not too bad if we did 25 shoots a month, that’s half of what I used to do 3 years ago. This allow me time to express myself creatively and as I grow more and more experience, majority of my shots require very minimal editing process which means more time spend on something else. I have also started in limiting the number of shoots I do for newborn to only 10 sessions a month… it is a number that I am interested in so I can spend time work on the finer details… I go to shoot every time and wanting to learn something more for myself…  I am hungry to learn about exploring my own capability, both in technical and experience perspective… I learn to be more attune to my surrounding and continue to improve how I shoot and looking at ways to make things simple and capture things that I felt, something that matters to me.

I used to give out my peers’ name to clients who I can’t shoot, but since I have my sister company, Bambini Photography, the rest of load has been off-load to them… and I am happy that way… of course, there are time that we are both are not available so we still recommend the jobs to our peers…
I have crafted Tomato Photo’s way of delivering the finish images to clients via online gallery, client select from home, no pressure… and purely allow them to purchase what they love… I find that, clients love it more by spending less with me, but as a business, I gain a lot more trust, referral, etc. At the end of the day, happy clients, happy me, happy Tomato.

I have less interest with money… for me I believe, doing things well, you shall rewarded with what you deserveIt doesn’t buy you happiness, though, it sure buy a lot of convenient. Having said that, I am making a decent living doing what I love.

Regarding to images, how to find individuality on my work, One thing for sure is I stop looking outwards, and dig deeper inside me to find what I truly feel when I am out with my clients… The process is long, harder, but the most rewarding. I stop looking at my competitors’ website, facebook, never gone on pinterest, etc for images. Not interested with what others are producing… I know there are a lot of great photographers out there and they are producing a lot of great works… but to my work… I got to ask myself “SO WHAT???” it is their work, not mine, no glory for me to achieve what others have achieve… I am more than happy to see fellow photographers winning awards and share my joy in congratulate them.

Regarding to my working gear, I have a small Domke F-3X bag, everything I need should fit in that bag. If it doesn’t it will stay at home… I have SONY A900 DSLR, SONY A7 Mirrorless, CZ 24-70 f2.8, Minolta 70-210 f4, two YN-560II flashes, Pocketwizard Trigger, Nine Sandisk 16GB Memory card, 3 sets of batteries. That’s it… I don’t need anything more… of course, in my personal collection, I have a lot more equipments that I hardly use. I prefer to use something that I am familiar with and concentrate on the images.

The success of Tomato Photo isn’t an overnight thing and there isn’t any trick… just simply doing the old fashion normal stuff… Delivering my promise consistently…

So here you have it… that’s how I do my stuff… I hope you learn to understand that you CAN personalise the business to fit your own lifestyle.


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Senior Portrait with the Santillos

It was late, dark and rainy before the shoot… usually, in this kind of condition, the shoot will be postponed. However, time isn’t a luxury that the Santillo’s family have. So we went ahead and hope the rain will quite down a little.

For the most part of the individual shot of Michaela, it was really dark and wet and glad it finally brighten up for a good 15 minutes so we can squeeze in the family session too.

I am glad that we have gotten images that the family love…



Hart Tan

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East Coast Park – a familiar site

There are family who prefer to be guided through the session, there are family who prefer to be left alone and there are family who prefer a bit of both. It is up to the photographer to realise what type the family fall into.

Sometimes being the observer brings a lot of joy in preserving memories for a family. The moments are spontaneous and there are a lot to capture usually. However, it will always challenging to capture something that is meaningful rather than shoot whatever moves.

I love the randomness in this shoot, through the randomness, it seems to define this family that is so dynamic but simple… I simply love it.


Hart Tan

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Another year, another location, every single year

A family tradition sometimes irks me… that’s what I feel when I was younger.

As I grow older, I wish I had pay more attention to family tradition… sometimes it may sound or feel ridiculous but it only make sense when you finally “get it”.

Elle has been doing her family photography since she had the first child, and with 5 children, she has never fail to arrange for a family photography every single year.

What she want is simple… a simple portrait of the family looking good at the location that is familiar to them…

This year, it was 3rd year I did for them… I hope to continue to do the session for them as long as they are in Singapore…

Previous 2 years’ images


Hart Tan

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