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Studio Children Photography – Rafael

My children are no longer little babies… at the time I wrote this blog, my youngest is already 3… I was cleaning up my computer and come across a photograph that I took of him when he was merely 1 year old… which I posted on my facebook. Time flies and I am glad that I spend more time with my children nowadays. Photography is always a fun things to do and it simply preserve the memories of my children so I can look back and remember how they look like.

Geraldine did the same thing and photographing her little baby annually…  This year we did a simple one in the studio.

For me at least, it was like a chat with a friend while taking picture of her little baby playing un-interrupted. Just Rafael…

I am glad that mom was happy and in her email, she mentioned,

Hi Hart,

Thank you for the photos. As before, I’m spoilt for choice and love all of them! …


So for me, it is a job well done for another happy client, to Geraldine, the memories of her child is forever preserved and for Rafael, he just had great fun playing in the studio.



Hart Tan

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Children Photography 101 – Tips and Tricks…

I hope this article help parents who would like try and capture images of their child…

1) What are some of the main challenges with photographing children, especially infants and young kids?

The main challenges in photographing children lies in 2 things:
1, the behaviour of the child and also
2, the our own expectations.

Each child is unique and the more we can understand the children, the easiest to get the real emotion from the child. For example: a strong will child usually like to be challenge, so challenge them will work wonders and on the other hand, a very shy child usually need a lot time to build the rapport and gain their trust, etc

What is our expectations determine what we are going to take. For example, if I am looking to preserve memories of my child at a particular stage, I will look for the “milestone” kinda image, such as the first steps… walking with hands balancing… etc

Different scenarios:
My idea of photography is simple, capture the memories for the child as you interpret it as their parents. Allow them to be who they are and add or remove elements that you want to be in or out of those memories so we can remember them.

— When they’re sleeping  
When child is sleeping, they really don’t mind what you do as a parents. Use smaller and unintrusive camera would work. Child’s room tend to be dark, use of small flash light bouncing away from the child should give the right illumination that needed to get the images.

— When they’re playing / doing sports
If they are on the small play in the house, don’t interrupt them, let them do what they do and capture those moments as they will grow out of it in not so distant away. If they are playing sport outside the house, try to use longer tele-photo lens (something like 70-200mm works the best) to capture them without interrupting their activity.

— When on vacation and you want to take scenic shots
Vacation is the best time to do the shoot as you tend to be relax and there are a lot of things going on during the vacation. Bring small camera and bring one zoom lens instead of a lot of them. Spend time capturing what you want to remember them. Forget about bringing tripod, find somewhere to lean on and stabilise the camera by pulling the strap down and pull the camera up gives you the stability on the go. In short, keep it simple and focus on what you want to include as part of their memories

— When doing portraits
Control of lighting is crucial hence, usually off camera flash works better to control the shadow or find somewhere that has a big window. Use bed sheet as backdrop. Remember portrait is about the subject, set your camera and forget about it. Talk to the subject and find out the interesting expression of your child… you will surprise you see a lot of genuine expression when you talk to them like a little friend.  Don’t criticise them and keep the session short.

— In the water or pool
Waterproofed your camera!!!…
Those plastic enclosure works really well and go in the pool with them… give them direction and where to swim towards so you can control the overall image. Be patience as in the water takes a bit of time to focus and enclosure usually bulkier. Children usually like to do things repeatedly so just ask them to repeat them until you got the shots might work, but keep it short on each repetition.

— When you have a group of them
In the group, you need to find the “leader” of the pack if they are older then 4 years old and guide the leader and the rest will follow.
Younger than 4, just give them something that will make them sit down together… whatever… food, drawing, activities… etc.

General tips like lighting, camera modes, tips for getting kids to settle down, etc:
Soft lighting usually works better for children, so bounce the light if you have something to bounce, a big white towel makes a perfect bounce surface… I tend to shoot with Manual mode as I can control the light and other variables the way I want it, but Aperture more is commonly use as you just need to worry 1 variable. Keep things simple really.

Understand your child is crucial, never push what you want into them… if you want them to smile, make them smile, don’t ask them to smile. If you want them to happy jumping around, do that with them… they are a reflection of you… do remember the less you ask, but more you do with them gives you more things to shoot.

Last but not least, you need to always remember the idea behind why you want to take a photograph of your child? It is all about them and you are just an observer…

Here are some images I took of my kiddo during our recent vacation:


Hart Tan


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a happy newborn photography customer, a happy me.

Newborn stage is extremely short and there is always a lot of hurdle for parents need to go through to convince themselves to have newborn photography done.

Jimmy and Joanne was worried too… but of course, they are rewarded with a memory of a lifetime and I think my mission, to create a personalise artwork that part of their memory, is completed.

This image replaces one of their painting collection at home.

You can read more on Joanne’s thought on her blog.


Hart Tan

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Tips for Travel Photography

Making pictures during travel is often challenging when you have 3 kiddo in tow. Family, Landscape, portrait of my children are important part of my photography during travel.

You want to spend time with your family and experience different things during the trip but of course, some “record” of the trip is great to refresh the memories.

So the kit should be great for me to capture the high quality images while being not too heavy to bring around.

Here is what I bring with me:

1. Sony A7 Body – very compact full frame camera
2. Sony Carl Zeiss 24-70 f4 – New lens for A7, very modern rendering with great color but lack of the “classic” feel that I love
3. Minolta 70-210 f4 – a beautiful 20+ years lens that gives me the characteristic that I love.
4. Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux – a beautiful old lens that really gives the “classic” feel to the image that I love…
5. Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 – Beautiful wide angle prime lens which is my choice for wide angle shot.
6. All in a small Domke F-3X bag
7. Gitzo traveller series CF tripod.
8. MacBook Pro 13″ laptop

These are my working tool that I use regularly to shoot beautiful portrait for my customers too.

So, what do I take?
I usually take about 40-50 images a day and usually it is a record of what I experience during the trip. I will get someone take a couple “family” shot of us and majority of time, I just take my kiddo running around as well as some images that let me remember my travel. I am not so much of “portrait” of street people because I can’t spend time with them hence, can’t understand more of them, so I don’t take picture of people on the street.

Anyway, here is some of the images I took during this trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.

I hope this article helps you to decide what you want to bring and what you could take.


Hart Tan



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Family Portrait Photography at Marina Bay, Singapore

Taking portrait of children is always challenging, the challenging part isn’t on the photography itself, but the understanding on how to bring the true-self of the child out. A good portrait is one that show the person as who they are or the best of themselves. This is ultimate goal of every portrait photographer.

Great moment don’t just happen right when you want to, it is a photographer’s job to ensure, that suggestion are made based on the study of the people, create an opportunity for the moment to happen at the right time.

I am delighted to photograph JJ and his parents at their favorite location, Marina Bay Promenade, it is a beautiful and serene place early in the morning and I simply love it.

JJ is a shy but cheerful child and extremely protective of his “toy cars/bike”. You have to earn his trust before he show you, and you have to be his friend before he let you share the toys…

I love the connection of the family, it is unique to this family…



Hart Tan

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