Shooting Solo

Why I Shoot Alone?

Newborn, Maternity and Kids photography is such a different genre in the world of photography. Most people think that we’re photographers with an army on set; assistants lighting technicians make up/hair artists – but this is far from true, at least in Tomato Photo Studio! In Tomato Photo, I shoot alone!

The Question Many Asks

Every now and then, I do get asked the same question…“Hart, why do you work alone?”

Isn’t it a case of “the more, the merrier” where having more people around helps to ensure that things get done faster and therefore….more efficiently?

Sure, it can certainly feel impressive to have a team that can run around doing things on my behalf and make me look “important” during photoshoots. However, to be completely honest, I really don’t need an army to impress you during your photoshoot. I have generals that work behind the scenes and this allows me to show up in my best form to create work that you will love during your photoshoots with me, every single time.

What if I were to turn up with big and expensive lighting and camera systems as a way of justifying my costs… Sounds fancy, right?

Would that really be justified, though?

One of Many Stories

Let me explain further by sharing an experience I had a couple years ago during an extended family photoshoot.

I remember I walked in to a client’s home with a rather compact system (read: mirrorless camera system), which raised an eyebrow and a remark was made on how “little” equipment I’d arrived with.

As it turned out, my minimal system was instrumental in ensuring the experience went along smoothly. As soon as I took my camera out, the 2 year old child that was present instantly decided that she didn’t want to take any part in the photoshoot. Parents, you know too well how these things go.

So yes, the little one decided that everyone else should be in front of the camera, without her. I learnt later on that it usually takes her a while to warm up to new faces.

Of course, part of the reason why this photoshoot was arranged in the first place was to include this 2 year old girl in the photos along with everyone else plus, there were also visiting family members who were going to be around for only a limited time.

And because I was alone, my minimal kit that comes with a silent shutter (so when you click, there is no clicking sound from the camera) was not distracting at all for the little girl while she took her time to open up to me; she wasn’t aware that I had started capturing images silently! As everyone sat down together in their places, I waited for the right moment and “PEEKABOO!”, she appeared at the exact spot that I wanted her to be in! As I continued capturing the shots (silently), she remained clueless but happy and in good spirits! All 14 family members were 100% relieved that we got it done beautifully.

Later on, one of the clients shared with me that he had initial concerns with bulky gear and assistants tagging along for the big family shoot as he was worried these would really make things chaotic. Needless to say he was rather glad that I turned up alone and with minimal gear!

WHY I Shoot Alone?

I haven’t always run a “one man show” during my photoshoots. In the past, my wife would tag along as my assistant for newborn photoshoots. In those days, I remember having to ask twice for the little things I’d I need during the photoshoot and it would take me 2-3 tries before I’d eventually get what I needed. This would often end up in intended moments being lost and therefore, not captured for my clients! It has taken us years of working together to learn to be better at being able to read the other’s creative mind, especially when time is of the essence.

Sure, we’ve since trained ourselves to work really well together. But somewhere along the way, I also found myself wondering what would happen if one day my wife were to feel under the weather on the day of a photoshoot? What would I do then? Postpone the shoot?

So I changed things further, and trained myself to run the show, solo. When clients choose to trust me in capturing their memories, it is my responsibility to ensure that I make it happen accordingly as they have planned whilst being as efficient as possible.

Tomato Photo’s Success – Pre-empt, Pre-empt & Pre-empt

It is the things that we can do for our clients before they even think about that makes us where we are today.

For example, those of you who have used boutique 5 star resort services or even the famed Haidilao restaurant, you’ll find that it is their ability to “pre-empt” what you need even before it crosses your mind that makes their service stand out.


Now, this is not an easy task, but it is something we value and believe in, hence we have kept our business small, serving only a limited number of clients each month so that we can attend to each and every one to the best of our abilities.

I would argue that having more than 1 person in a photoshoot is a luxury that is more beneficial to me as a photographer but not so much for you as a client as it becomes an unnecessary, additional cost to you.

I have always preferred getting things done sooner rather than later and getting more work done for our clients at the lowest possible cost so that we can make enough to use the very best products for them while keeping the business thriving, even during the most difficult times.

I love what I do, so I would love to keep myself competitive and continue to offer the best that I can to anyone who would love to work with us.

  • “We booked a session with Hart for my 6mo baby last Friday. Usually my baby takes a long time to warm up to strangers but Hart literally took only 10mins to get him smiling, interacting and curiously looking around the studio so ready for the photoshoot! It was also a very pleasant experience for myself and my husband. We enjoyed the whole hour there. And then when we received the photos… oh my they were all captured beautifully. Especially my son’s expressions 🥰. Thank you so much Hart! “- Mags Heng

  • “If you want perfect photos that captures the moment, great experience with kids and quick turnaround for the photos – hart is the best! Pricing and packages are clear. Results are always outstanding. Hart is especially necessary if you have a big group. The more people, the harder it is to get a perfect shot (Without photoshop). Hart is good at priming everyone so that everyone is ready and perfect.
    Other Photographers might be able to handle a child with parents – with more and younger kids it gets harder to get perfect shots. We had bambini photography for a single child and it captured the moment, but not perfect for shots with more people” Huiying

  • Hart took a photo of our newborn 3 years back, and we loved the pictures immensely. Those photos are truly timeless, and superbly taken. Late last year, we started to arrange for a photo series with both sides of the extended family members with Hart again. But sadly, my father-in-law passed on in Feb this year. Looking back, we never took enough photos with him, and time truly doesn’t wait for anyone. Instead of putting off the photo session further (who knows what will happen tomorrow…), we proceeded once the pandemic lockdown measures are relaxed. We love the images taken last weekend with Hart, enjoyed the session thoroughly, and will definitely return to update our family portrait in a few years. Photos, especially the amazing ones that Hart always manages to capture, are truly the only way we can freeze time and moments. Our children are all growing up too fast, and our parents growing old too soon and Hart’s photos will be cherished by our family forever.” – Bernice

Your Benefits:

If you have read this far, let me assure you that me being a solo photographer has many benefits for you as a client.

Here are the top 5:
1. There will be only 1 stranger for your child(ren) to warm up to.

2. Our cost stays competitive so you only pay for the results.
2. Consistency is guaranteed so you know what you get.
3. You’ll see images of your child looking directly into the camera with their natural, candid smiles.
4. No third party disruptions; there will be no one else taking up space or interrupting my creative flow especially during crucial moments. These moments are unique and happen in a flash.

So if you understand and love the idea of “Less is More”, I reckon we will work well together!

Oh… have you see more than 1 conductor in an orchestra? No? Never? there must be a good reason why…

Drop us a message and let’s see how we can work together…

    More Reviews

    Portraits – We Keep It Classic, A Style That Never Dates

    Since 2008, Tomato Photo’s portrait style had been people focused, classic, simple, natural and beautiful. Our focus is always you, your family and your children. 

    Keeping it Simple, or KIS principle that we call it.

    It is important to recognise the beauty in every person that we photograph and with decade of experience, we learn how to work with our clients to draw out their best. 

    One of the reason why we do well is perhaps, I love meeting people, I am intrigued by kid’s curiosity, their behaviour, why they do what they do. I observe, I pre-empt and I anticipate. That’s how I get to to capture the moments and expressions that parents didn’t know existed. It surprise me from time to time as well, as creating images is more or less like a second nature, such as breathing… 

    We had such a fantastic experience with Hart – he was so relaxed and easy going and the session was really enjoyable. My husband and I were amazed at how quickly our very shy 2 years old warm up to him. We are absolutely thrilled with the quality of the images and would highly recommend. Danelle Slattery

    I find beauty in people’s laughter, expression, body language, connection, etc. I learn all that from comments from my clients… they often say something like, oh… that is so her! oh, i love that “look” and I love when they do this…

    In fact, my photography skill grow every time I listen to my clients. Capturing what they hope to remember drive me to the pursuit of images beyond thought. It is that simple.

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    We find value in simplicity and it is a classic example of how we create our images.

    Most clients tell us that there is something in our photos that they like but not quite sure what… They feel comfortable looking at the photos, they can relate and they look real. We presume what they mean is that’s how their happiness “feel” like.

    Its life little things that makes people smile more than biggest ticket item that money can buy. 

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    Just you being who you are.

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    As the years have gone on, we believe that Tomato Photo has remained stead fast in their approach, quality and style. 

    Most of our clients choose us because they know getting what they love should be easy. 

    Give us a call or whatsapp on +6588580088  to have a chat how we can help you to capture those moments in the easiest way…


    Mini Family Photoshoot Singapore – East Coast Park 2019

    Who Need Mini Family Photoshoot?

    First of all, I know that many of you always look at your friends’ photos and probably think. “There is no way we will put ourselves through all the stress spending hours posing in front of the camera.

    First of all, Jessica Bernard felt exactly the same (see her thoughts below)… Josh is 6.5yo and because, Ella who is 2.5, literally hate sand and grass in her shoes while Ella also simply isn’t a morning person.

    Similarly, if your family dynamics has more or less the same. This article may be something you should keep reading on.

    One thing for sure that we all know is having your memories captured is not only important, it is probably the only way to show you and your family really existed.

    Of course, unless you are on Interpol most wanted list or some exclusive people who feel fine to be forgotten once you leave this world, you got to really have your photos taken once in a while. Even more so especially when you have young kids.

    Typical Excuse #1

    I get it, it is always those few pounds… let me burst your bubble… are you ready…?

    It will only get worse…. Just think about last weekend.

    Did you have one extra drink that you shouldn’t? An extra slice of pepperoni pizza that you shouldn’t eat?

    As a result, unless you are someone who workout real hard regularly; or someone who is either blessed with great genes or is a breatharian, chances are, it will get worse.

    Similarly, one of my client waited 6 years… guess what? the weighing scale kept showing increments!

    Yes yes, as a professional, yes read PROFESSIONAL, i will light you better so you shave off a few pounds, then capture you in the right angle, to shave a few more pounds… you will be laughing so hard now and glad you did it today… I ain’t a miracle worker, but of course I know a thing or two to make you look better than real life.

    Excuse #2

    Now, you are probably going to tell me that your husband is going to kill you to spend the money… Times are bad, yadi yadi yaa… or he says he just hates being photograph…

    Totally understand… try this…Why do you think I am behind the camera all the time? Because I try to avoid the camera at all cost (pun intended)?

    I hate it as much as your husband. In fact, I used to fight with my mother who always wanted our family photos taken. Now, I know I do it for my children. My 3 boys whom I love dearly is going to have some pictures of me with them too!

    Excuse #3

    Then you are going to tell me that your kids just hate it every time you take that iPhone out and take their photo.

    Short answer is, you can pretty much leave it to me with the kids. I have my way around them. All you need to do is (pretend) to be happy and bring lots of smiles. Oh… no no, I don’t mean really pretend… but you know, try to lah! 

It will be easy I promise.

    So if you are those who like quick and fuss free experience, a mini session at East Coast Park will be your answer for those grandparents at home and precious memories for your own family too.

    So to sum it up Mini Family Photo shoots Are:

    1. Affordable (yes your husband is probably going to nag less. It is certainly not cheap but you know affordable compared to the usual value associated with your memories),
    2. Quick (for those who never have time),
    3. East Coast Park (best place in Singapore, says me!) and last but not least,
    4. I will be the monkey for your children. Means you don’t have to deal with them for at least half an hour. Yes… good thing come in small bite size.

    Its too good to be true!“… and it is… because it is only going to last for a very limited time as good, affordable things usually don’t come often or stay very long.

    So its a mini date session, I don’t mean dating me, I mean to schedule a date for your mini session for your family who everyone including yourself hated to be posing in front of the camera.

    How Mini Family Photoshoots Work?

    It is a promise that you won’t have to pose, hence, guidance is provided.

    As a result, I won’t tell you to tilt your head left or right, but I am going tell you to squeeze your kids from time to time or to throw them up and down (for some overdue exercise) and to run with them as well as turning them upside down from time to time or simply chase them down the beach. Simply, spend time, create precious memories with your children.

    Finally, You will be sweaty, you will get lots of sand in your shoes, between your toes, you will probably get yourself a little wet, but hey… as results, your kids will remember this great time you spend with them. I will be there just to capture it, probably the way you never thought it was possible.

    Above all, who needs a perfect pose model in your family album, so, you can be sure that I am looking for everyday mum and dad who is willing to spend some time with their little kiddos playing wholeheartedly and have their memories captured at the same time.

    If that’s you, contact us by phone +65 88580088, whatsapp or email us at info@tomato.sg and lets see which date we can have you in…

    East Coast Park Mini Photoshoot Details Here

    We recently did an East Coast Mini Shoot with Hart – our first ever family photo session. My husband and I are not very comfortable in front of the camera, while the kids have a tendency to ham it up the second they see the camera – no easy, natural photos for us… or so we thought!

    The mini shoot is a great option for those who may not be keen on having their photo taken – because it’s outdoors you don’t feel too fake or posed, and it enables you to interact with your kids and each other in an unforced way. It’s also over so fast that the kids don’t have a chance to get bored, they’re having too much fun!

    The three things that impressed us the most:

    1. Hart’s manner is so lovely. He’s so relaxed and we were all instantly at ease for the session, we interacted with each other as usual while he gave minor directions or responded to our requests. He’s particularly great with kids, and instantly put my 6 year old son at ease. My stubborn 2 year old resisted his charms initially, but he won her over by encouraging her to look for shells on the beach. The result – gorgeous, candid photos of my kids being themselves.

    2. My husband was reluctant to do the photo shoot – he wanted the photos, just didn’t want the awkward photo session – but has since commented that he was amazed how much it didn’t feel like a photo shoot. It just felt like our family, hanging out with Hart, who just happened to have a camera.

    3. I can’t stop looking at the photos! The light and composition is wonderful, and he’s captured some brilliant expressions from both my children. I got teary when he first sent them through (same day as the shoot btw!), and it’s so special to have some photos of the whole family – previously the only photo of all of us was a selfie!

    From a reluctant, camera-shy family, we are now total converts to the family photo session, and will definitely be booking another mini shoot with Hart in the future.

    Jessica Bernard
    East Coast Park MIni Session 2019
    Details of Mini Family PHotoshoots at East Coast PArk

    Why We Shoot In Black and White

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    Colour Can Distract

    Clothing, busy background and colour objects can take away from the moment of the photo.  The black and white images allow your brain to focus only on the main element of the photo and the emotional message is more easily conveyed as our brains become more perceptive and focused on the images core itself.  Taking away distractions gives you a focused image that is often more powerful and spectacular.

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    You’ll See Light Differently

    With outdoor lighting in particular, you will miss out on that golden afternoon glow but you will also gain a more focused shot.  The shot will lead your eye to  focus more on the direction, quantity and quality of light in the black and white shot.  As a photographer learning how to read and play with different elements of light in this way is a fantastic skill that helps play up emotion in the shot. The relationship between the starkness of the light and dark can be more interesting to shoot than the regular colour shots.  Light and the relationship with my subject (and the shadows that form) as well as other complementary elements of the individual become the focus, rather than the colour of elements in the frame.

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    It Helps Emphasize Emotion

    Looking at someone’s face, or into their eyes, without the distraction of color can provide a stronger emotional connection to the subject. It’s not necessarily always the case, but if like me, you often feel more connected to a person in a black and white image over a color image, this could be the reason why. With color gone, it’s purely about the connection you have with the subject.  The color of the trees and shrubs, buildings and lamp posts are all irrelevant as the focus becomes the emotional bond between the embracing family.
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    Its A Classic
    One of the most common reasons people want to shoot in black and white today is because it lends a certain timeless quality to the images. This is because we still think of black and white as being a throwback to the photographic past. Of course, it is in terms of black and white was much more prevalent before color, but this is still a great reason to shoot black and white. Black and white never seems to fade from being fashion forward and its seen as an elegant and sophisticated choice by many of my clients.

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    It Amplifies Your Use of Space

    Negative space – the areas of the frame that have nothing in them, are easier to showcase and highlight when shooting black and white. This relates back to minimizing distractions from not shooting in color. You tend to focus on light and dark areas of the frame – and their inter-relationship. Playing with negative space is also useful in separating your subject nicely from the background and give added depth to the image.  Black and white can help to highlight a shape and form or pattern in the image that might be overlooked in a full colour image.
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    To Highlight Beauty and Skin Tones

    It doesn’t matter what race, color or background you happen to be – black and white photography provides wonderful tonal range between the deepest blacks and the whitest whites. Garishly colorful makeup is no longer distracting.  Pigments, discoloration and distracting elements of the skin can become less obvious. I particularly love this when I am emphasizing a newborns skin and wrinkles.  Its that light bath or glow if you like that separates the baby from everything else and proves to shape our attention directly at the newborn.

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    Love the black and white look? Give us a call today to discuss what you want from your next photo shoot.  TEL: 8858 0088; Whatsapp Us; or email us at info@tomato.sg

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    School Holiday Thoughts….

    For parents who have children in “big school” as my kids call it… we understand the challenge of waking up in the early morning darkness… and at times dealing with tantrums before school… and many of us feel that it is a groundhog day over and over until the “School Holiday”…

    As parents, we thought, YES!!! we have an hour more to sleep and kids will behave themselves and give us, parents, that 1 precious hour of “sleep”.

    Guess what?

    They wake up earlier than school days and start their “party”…

    I am sure many of you can relate…

    One thing strike me very hard this morning is, yes, our children may feel “liberated” from school… but for some reason, I felt that I have not done much for them… and understandably the guilt sets in…

    Lets face it, as much as we think we want to spend MORE time with them, they have their own things going on… so the time we spend with them actually rather limited.

    Yes, we can bring them out for things that makes them happy… however, looking back… what do we have to remember of them? how do they want to remember us when they grow up?

    Like investment, it only pays off many years down the road.

    Imagine we never take those first steps in investing in their memories… I call it, emotional bank account… How do we bank in those emotion bit by bit and allow them to remember us when they have their own family… in short, what kind of role model are we hoping our children to become?

    Lucky for me, I have the skills to capture what I want to remember of them and of course how I want them to remember their childhood as well as with us…

    Sure, in the digital age, we have those softcopy which we hold dearly… personally, I don’t remember much of what I shoot a month ago… My answer to my own need is to have them display…

    These are some of our memories with our children…

    I work so hard every single day and I love to come home and surround myself with happy memories of my children… I don’t think it is too much to ask…

    Give me a call if you would like to make use of my skills for your family too…

    Regards,

    Hart Tan
    8858 0088
    info@tomato.sg
    www.tomato.sg


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