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When is the best time? Family Photography

This has to be the the “MOST” frequently asked question when I talk to people about their family portrait…

Sure, we all want to look good in the pictures, we wish that we lost another few pounds off, we wish that we could have our hair done nicely, we wish we waited for the “perfect” time to have the session done… but when is the best time? It is about offering your child an insight into the past on the time they spend with us.

When i looked back to the images that I had with my parents, I remember the time I spend with them… I remember the stuff we do together, I remember all other stuff and almost never look at how my parents looks like… because I love them… How they look aren’t going to change how much love I have for them and now I wish I have more picture with my mother. Time simply past too quickly…

I have clients who think their little newborn is too wrinkly and wanted to wait for the baby to be a little chubbier, but only realise it is impossible to capture the newborn like how they were in the tummy once passed 2 weeks
I have clients who think they will wait for their child to be able to sit up, life gets in the way and they finally came when the baby had a little sibling…
I have clients who think they love little first steps picture, by the time I meet them, the child is running around.

We spend a few second here and there doing “things” but rarely we really spend a few minutes sit down and look at people we love… time simply slipped away too quickly.

Newborn is only a newborn when they are less then 3 weeks old… a 6 months old is really a 6 months old when they are not 8 months old… by the time we look back… our children probably graduated their university and get on with their life…

“oh how I wish I had… ” This is part of the sentence I hear way too often… Ultimately, I think anything is the best time to preserve the memories for your children. They might not understand now… but it is your gift to them if you like.

Of course, if you would like to be part of the pictures and think it is “perfect time” to have your pictures taken… a help from professional photographers who understand would be lovely so you know you get the best while enjoying time together….

Anyway… Rod and Claire were shopping around for a newborn photographers and have interviewed a few photographers and decided that my style is something they like… something simple, natural and beautiful.

Claire has a very precise requirement and I love working with clients who have precise requirement, I LOVE the challenge and I work really well under pressure and I know at the end of the day, when the client is totally happy, there is something to celebrate.

Hi Hart,

Thank you so much for the photos – they are fantastic.  Now the hard part is narrowing down which ones to print / put in albums as there are so many good ones to choose! – Claire

At the end, the family have selected a few beautiful 25×28″ frames with exquisite Fine art print for their beautiful home and gift for their parents. These are simple images taken from their home… It is about the feeling of that connection that move me to take those images for them…


Hart Tan


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Home newborn session with chubby bub…

It is always something that prevent us to spend time and preserve memories especially for the little newborn.

Mother always feel that they are not ready, after all, they just had the baby, tired and a lot of uncertainty going on with the little baby. Karen felt the same too… However, there are only so little time to ensure that the best images are captured.

It is a misconception that parents have to do a lot during the newborn session, actually quite the opposite. I tend play an important role, I am the photographer, as well as the main person who is handling the baby right from feeding, cleaning, settling the baby… After hundreds of newborn session, I know newborn like the back of my hand.

Karen is glad that I pushed her to do the session earlier and of course, all products are done within 2 weeks in time for their celebration. Tomato Photo is one of the few studios that offer a very fast turn around time for clients.

Here are some images I capture during the newborn photography session at client’s home.

It is always nice to know that client is really happy with their choice of having Tomato Photo as their trusted partner in preserving their memories…


Hart Tan

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An Unique Studio Family Portrait Photography Session with the Songs

It is going to be a long post… but bear with me as I would like to share this unique experience…

As I read through my daily emails and reply all the enquiries, one email stand out.. CK email me to ask for a possibility to have a session done for his family.

It reads “… indoor photoshoot for my 6 year old son Ryan, my wife and I. Ryan has global developmental delay, cannot sit unsupported, and may have to either lie down, be carried, or propped up.

1. Do you have any experience with such children? If not, are you game to take up this challenge?

2. can you please send me info on your packages? I would like to keep some of the hi-res edited digital images (suitable for enlargement to > 8R)”

My heart sink and I just froze in front of the screen and my eyes are watery… It reminds me of my late mother whose great soul was trap in a body…

I pick up the pieces and decide to do the session for them… As much as I would like to control the release of the high res images, I will make exception.

Here is my email to CK:

“Hi CK,

Thanks for your email and the introduction.

I am happy to do the session for you and offer you the high res images free of charge.

I have not photograph a child with global development delay but my purpose is to preserve memory for people. It means something for me to be able to help you guys with small part of memory preservation for your child. I will do within my capacity to give you the best images that I could produce.

If you insist of paying me for my work, you can take the amount of money that you want to pay and donate it to any charity that you support in exchange.

Let me know when you can do that, I will check my schedule and arrange a suitable time.

Thank you for contacting me.”

So I am glad that CK took the offer and it was a profound experience when they arrived in the studio. However, I treat it is like any other studio session… I learn to formulate what I could photograph through observation and digging out information from clients when we meet. It is the body language, the way people connect, etc gives me the ideas what to capture. So I love to give time to understand the family if I meet them for the first time.

CK told me, Ryan didn’t smile once a shoot that they did some years ago. So I understand where i stand.

To me, Ryan, child being a child, is a cheeky boy who is happy but has a very strong personality… though limited in what he can communicate. The gaze in the eye contact is intense, the smile makes me feels like we are out in the open field, so spacious, so free. These are what touches my heart when I saw him. The connection of the parents with the child is natural and beautiful… it reminds me LOVE is an universal language and connection is how we communicate the Love.

So keep my lighting really simple, something more or less offer flexibility to everyone to move around my studio.

I am surprise that Ryan was rather open with some minor nervousness and I am happy to be able to use my gift to preserve part of their memories for them.

To me, it is a pat on my back knowing I have done well.

To the Songs, here is what CK wrote me on email:

Dear Hart

Thank you very much for doing the shoot for my family yesterday. It was a radical departure from our stereotype of what we thought a studio shoot should be.

In spite of being a pro-bono shoot, there was no sense of rush as you chatted with us and we fed Ryan in your living room. And no, it was not contrived small talk and gossip, but an open sharing of your experiences and the philosophy behind your work. Your words clearly reflected the deep passion that you have for your art, and your conviction to preserve memories. We also noticed you listening intently as we shared our experiences in bringing up and living with Ryan. I feel that the rapport and understanding built through this chit-chat was crucial in the success of the subsequent studio session.

The shoot itself was a whole lot of fun. My wife and I really enjoyed posing with our little prince, and look back in awe at how you managed to adapt to Ryan’s quirks on-the-fly, work around his limitations and capitalize on his idiosyncrasies to produce really beautiful and natural portraits. Without being able to speak or move much on his own, Ryan’s rich facial expressions and piercing gaze are some of the very few insights into his mind.  You have captured the best of Ryan and the innocence of his youth, from the joy of being held and loved, to the bewilderment of being kissed or chastised, to the disgust of doing something that he doesn’t want to do.

We were very surprised to receive the images today, only a day after the shoot. It was an emotional experience to see the beauty and innocence of our little prince frozen in time and captured for eternity. Many years from now, we will look back at these images and smile as the memories of Ryan’s childhood come flooding back. We once again thank you for volunteering to do this shoot.

With warmest regards

CK and PM

Here is something about Ryan:

Our 6 year old son Ryan suffers from Isolated Sulfite Oxidase Deficiency, an extremely rare and eventually fatal metabolic disorder that causes progressive brain damage and severe physical and mental disability. There is no definitive treatment that can stop or reverse the progression of this condition, and we have been advised that most children do not survive past early childhood. In spite of this rather bleak prognosis, my wife and I believe that each day with Ryan is a bonus, and are committed to giving Ryan as normal a childhood and family experience as we can. We do not shy away from exposing Ryan to the world,and we bring him along when we go shopping, watch shows, visit parks, and even on some of our overseas vacations  (So please don’t stare at Ryan if you see him in Parkway Parade, Vivocity or anywhere else…because he gets self conscious too!).  We are fortunate that Ryan is looked after by a dedicated team of doctors and nurses from NUH, and that we have excellent family support.

So I hope this post offer some awareness to Ryan’s condition.


Hart  Tan

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Softcopy – what it means…

This is often a hotly debated topic in photography industry since the introduction of digital photography… I hope to offer some insight into what I think about the illusive “Softcopy” or “Image on CD” or “Image Data” or loosely called “RAW files”. Its the same across most industry… Wedding, Maternity, Newborn, Family or Children Photography, perhaps even commercial photography.

As I understand from majority of clients that I talk to, this is what it means to have the softcopy:
1. The ability to print it at more “affordable” print shop
2. To play an active role in archiving the images
3. Simply don’t want the hassle to track down the photographer when they moved to another country
4. Ability to show it as slideshow on screen, phone, etc

These are valid reasons.

Here is what I think as a photographer and why you, as a client, should care about that…

Below are the same image from the same CD printed at different print shop, the correctly printed should be the top center image.

So photographer, if this will be the image that will be on client’s wall, office table, main living room blow up to a huge print. Simply, once it is on their wall, it is our reputation at stake. So What do you think? To me, it is difficult to sleep well at night knowing this.

As a Master Photographer, I spend years perfecting my skills… So naturally, I would love to see those art on client’s wall be it as a beautiful fine art print or fine art canvas and importantly, produced perfectly.

This is the reason why I control the release of the digital image. I do want my clients to keep them, but I would prefer to do printing for them.

In cost of running a business, putting the images on disc is probably the cheapest way, so naturally selling the expensive high quality products (such as Fine art Canvas or Prints or Album)  make the photographer less competitive as far as the pricing goes.

Needless to say, good photographer who choose to leave a legacy of their work would choose the less “popular” option, not because it is easy, but for the best interest of their client as well as the reputation and integrity that they choose to keep.

Tomato Photo is a promise for living my dream, a dream to be happy doing what I love, for things that matters… “memory preservation”.

I believe there is no short cut to create a reputable brand that client would be proud of to associate themselves with and this is a legacy that I am building in Tomato Photo.



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Natural Family & Children Photography at home

Photographing a family is somewhat easy… just get everyone together and point the camera at their direction… wah lah… you got a family photo.

Of course, if all you need is a family photo.

When you hold up a photograph that you took a while ago… what does it mean to you? first thing that most people do is to re-live the moment when that photograph being taken. The emotional responses that you associate with what is in the photograph. So that is why, one of the key things a photographer needs to provide is the experience, because you are part of it. Hopefully, what you provide is what they remember as how happy the children were laughing, smiling, perhaps a tantrum or two, how everyone connect as a happy and harmonious family… simply a sense of happiness.

To many of my clients… a family photography session is a very important occasion. It is a time that you gather with people that you love, perhaps you even dressed up a little and make a little more effort to prepare you home ready for the session.

Being asked countless time, when is the best time to take family photos? in my mind, when is NOT the best time?


Here is a home session that I did recently and I am glad that I have exceeded the client’s expectation and being part of their happy memories.




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