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


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

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

Studio Portrait Photography with Froggatt’s Family

Family portrait is always that “something” in the mind of many parents, but there is always “something else” that take the priority.

Katherine contacted me from New Zealand and they have a very tight schedule, 5 days to be exact.  Paul is an executive chef that runs a luxury resort in New Zealand and he told me that he took a liking on my work during their research for a photographer that could do their family portrait, in his words, “your work is exactly what we are looking for”…

I am glad that everything work out well. The session was done on Thursday morning, they receive the online gallery the same night and order was made the following day and their prints are delivered to them on Saturday morning. Took no chance as I allow 2 more days just in case something goes wrong.

The session is a mix between semi-formal studio session as well as relax outdoor session right behind the studio.

I always live with this motto, no children will cooperate during the shoot… and yes, it wasn’t the easiest to get the elder boy (Ethan) to be in the shot… however, difficult it may be, it is important to ensure clients get the best. This is the #1 worry that many parents have, including Katherine. Understand child’s psychology makes it easier to bring out the best of the child.

However, through email, Katherine mentioned their favorite part was “watching the kids respond to you and how happy they were at you making them laugh! You had great chemistry with them.”

Here are some images that will be up on their wall at some stage…

Last but not least, client’s recommendation is the highest form of compliment… and here is Katherine’s kind words…

We have already told all our friends we caught up with in Singapore about our shoot! And showed them the shots on the online gallery. We told them how great u are with the kids, you were patient and didn’t rush us through the shoot and the package was also very reasonable plus personal delivery of the photos! They were all impressed!


Hart Tan

Newborn Photography with Amy

I was in awe when i walk in the beautiful home for a newborn photography assignment. Amy loves photography and has a collection of her beautiful travel photography on the main wall in the living room.

As an avid photographer, Amy do get worried that they wouldn’t get good shots of baby and everyone. Weird angles, too stiff, etc, but I am glad that she says “somehow every single photo was lovely and captured everyone well” and that is a nice compliment for my work.

I asked Amy what was her favorite experience during the session and I was told that it was “the quiet time with baby-only shots. It was so cozy in the room with the white noise machine and seeing our little critter in a new light”.

I try to create a “mood” in my images by knowing how client “feel” and also predict the precise “moments” that a photograph being make. There is always an instant that makes the image looks different. If shutter was pressed several milliseconds too quickly, it didn’t have the magic and if the shutter was pressed several milliseconds too slow, the peak “moments” are lost… anticipation through how you feel as an image maker gives you the ability to judge that precise moment.

Last but not least… here is Amy’s kind words:

Hart is amazing with the baby (and, of course, lovely with the adults too) — she seemed to calm down and do exactly what he wanted under his direction.



Hart Tan

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