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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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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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