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Photographer Profile: Marc Tan Photo

I was lucky to speak to Marc Tan, a talented Melbourne lad who has recently moved back to Singapore to pursue his photography career. He takes some beautiful snaps, and you can see some of his work below.

Look out for more photographer profiles coming up soon at XXIV.

Marc Tan brings out the beauty in everyday landscapes and people, transforming what some may see as banal into memorable snapshots of raw, real life. Recently moving back to Singapore after nine years in Australia, the photographer works on commercial projects in fashion and lifestyle, as well as taking time to capture striking street style images and candid portraits. We chat to Marc about Wes Anderson, using friends as models and thinking before you click.

XXIV: Why did you choose photography?

Marc: Photography began as a desire to record everything.

Can you give me a brief history of your career?

I picked up my first digital SLR back in 2009, a day before a one week trip to Vietnam. I decided it was time I ditched the old Sony Cybershot T10 and got a camera I could have more control over.

Soon, I became that guy in the group who always had his camera with him, and every hang out was well documented with at least a hundred photos. Not long after, I found myself shooting events; making some extra cash out of a hobby was always exciting.

I also photographed many gigs both in Singapore and Melbourne, and through that met many bands who would ask me to do their promotional photos or live photos. And of course I was more than happy to.

Always having a thing for fashion and lifestyle photography, I was lucky enough to land a job doing just that as soon as I’d moved back to Singapore earlier in the year. I now shoot lookbooks, interiors and lifestyle photos.

You’re based in Singapore currently – why did you leave Melbourne? And does the Singapore photography scene differ to Australia’s?

I moved back to Singapore at the beginning of the year after living in Australia for a total of nine years. After graduating with a degree in audio engineering at the end of 2012, finding a job in that field didn’t look too bright, also, time was running out with my student visa so moving back home was kind of the only option I had.

I don’t think I can speak for the entire Singapore photography scene as I’ve not lived and worked here long enough, but so far, I feel like the scene in Singapore focuses more on very commercial type photography. I feel like I haven’t seen or heard of many photographers with a distinct style, or photographers who are producing something fresh. More often than not, I see a lot of people recreating shots or types of shots that have already been done over and over again. That being said, I have met a few photographers who are producing really cool and refreshing pictures, but these guys have a more DIY mindset, which is great – because rules are there to be broken right?

Your work seems to bring out the beauty in scenes or parts of life that others might find banal – industrial areas, people on trains, cats – how do you pick subjects?

It really depends on my mood. Some days I have a million ideas in my head, and the image is already there, I just have to go out and make the picture. Other days, it’s about capturing a moment, going for a walk with a camera in hand and snapping instinctively.

What inspires you?

I think photography, music, fashion, design and art are all the same thing at the end of the day. They gel together smoothly, so I guess you could say those things are my daily inspiration. Wes Anderson movies are pretty inspiring too!

You’ve done some work for DBL STD and This Is Alley – do you do much commercial photography?

I enjoy shooting street wear or street fashion with my friends as models and having a lot of creative say, but yes, I do also take on commercial jobs. I recently did a shoot at a clinic, that was cool.

What has been your favourite assignment/project to date and why?

I recently put together a Singapore guide for Ala Champfest Magazine. That allowed me to photograph many interiors of cafes, hotels, retail spaces, and galleries. I really enjoy interior photography and working alone.

Favourite camera to shoot with?

I’m currently enjoying my Fuji XE-1 and 35mm f1.4 combo. I had a Ricoh 500 GX, which was a fun analogue rangefinder until it broke.

Who are your photography idols?

Neil Bedford’s portraits, Mark Whitfield’s interiors, Chloe Dewe Mathew’s documentary style, and Vincent Tsang’s lifestyle and skateboarding photography.

Can you describe your process?

Go out on a shoot with a maximum of two lenses, having just one is best.

Take less snaps of the same thing. Plan the shot, and click at the right moment just once or twice. I hate it when people snap like ten or fifteen photos at a time in hopes that one of them is the good one.

When I’m post processing the photos, it’s whatever feels right. If it doesn’t then I’ll sleep on it and look at it the next day.

Do you have a ‘five year plan’?

To be frank, not really. I think I’m still finding my way.

You can see more of Marc’s work at marcphoto.com and marctanphoto.tumblr.com, or keep tabs on him via Instagram @coolbeancake.

Published at XXIV Magazine.

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