No social life? No problem for this budding Singaporean photographer
In Tan Jia Jun’s pursuit of his passion, he has sacrificed his social life.
Instead of spending his free time meeting up with friends, he chooses to spend his time improving his photography skills.
"I go out with my friends only once or twice a month. I also have two part-time jobs that keep me occupied – I am part of a sound crew for an events company and I’m also a bartender at a pub along Boat Quay," he said.
"I don’t get allowance from my parents any more. I’ve stopped receiving since I was in secondary four because I don’t like to get money from them,” explained the 24-year-old. “Also, I need to save up to buy equipment for my hobby since it is expensive.” Jia Jun said that he usually saves for months before buying a lens, which often costs hundreds of dollars.
It has been four years since Jia Jun began dabbling in photography, and most of his experience involves food photography.
"I was working at a Singapore-based company that does food photography. It was during my holidays and I was tasked to edit photos on the computer. During my time there, I observed how food photography works. There is the food stylist, who has many different ways of styling the dish to make it look good. There is also the different choices of lighting to create different effects on the food."
It was the ‘exposure’ at this job which inspired Jia Jun to buy his own camera. He took it on a trip to Genting, where he experimented with macro photography.
“I was using a Canon 500D kit and a 18-55mm lens and there were these cherries, flowers and bees that caught my eyes. I didn’t have a macro lens with me, so I used one technique my colleagues taught me, which is to take out the lens from the camera body and flip it over. But you have to use manual focus mode. I really like the photos I took. There’s one that showed a leaf with water droplets on it.”
His parents initially disapproved of his photography pursuits, complaining that it was an expensive hobby.
But when Jia Jun started winning awards and competitions, they had a change of heart.
“I convinced them after winning third runner-up for a competition held at Downtown East. My parents didn’t say much but from the look of their faces, they definitely seemed happy and proud,” he said.
He added, “After that I joined the Canon Photomarathon competition (in 2013) and won first prize. My parents were very shocked and said, ‘Well done, you really got what you wanted… you really pursued your passion’.”
He has also been featured in television show “Photo Face Off”, which airs on the History channel. Jia Jun will appear on the show again in the last episode on 28 October.
Jia Jun will be going for nation service after he graduates from polytechnic. After that, he plans to pursue photography full time and try his hand at fashion photography.
“I’ve never tried fashion photography before which is why I wanted to try it out. Based on what I’ve seen so far, many fashion photographers use big studio lighting, and collaborate with many people such as the makeup artists or stylists to produce a good shot. The whole process amazes me.”
He looks to New York-based fashion photographer Emily Soto’s work as a source of inspiration. “She uses a lot of flowers and dreamy effects, which is very nice. I will probably use the same technique when I start going into that direction while finding my own style. But of course, you need to learn from others first.”