May 16, 2011
She’s in ‘da house! The Wedding Photographer Network warmly welcomes its first female wedding photographer, Mindy Tan, to the pool. Here’s an up-close interview to know her better.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Most of my work deals with wedding photography. Aside, I also photograph sports and other documentary genres. I sometimes write + shoot for the travel section of Her World magazine. Recently I’ve also been invited to conduct photography workshops, such as for the Singapore Sports Council, where I am sharing tips and knowledge.
Where is home?
I spilt the year between Singapore and Berlin. Singapore where my roots are, and Berlin where my fiancé lives.
What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?
I’m in Berlin right now prepping for my own wedding in two months and taking a short breather after a hectic line-up of shoots in Singapore. At this stage, I couldn’t be happier doing what I love most and investing energy into one’s own business and creative exploits. There is also much anticipation and excitement for the future ahead.
What got you started in wedding photography?
Call it accidental fate.
I wanted to be photographer and follow in the footsteps of James Natchwey, but soon after graduation, the editor sent me to become a reporter instead. I very fond of the job but after 4 years, a nagging itch developed. “What if…?” That prompted me to resign for a plunge as a freelance photographer, because I knew if I didn’t do it, I would have everything to lose.
The initial intention was to produce investigative picture essays in an almost anthropological manner. Shooting weddings, and 101 other wacky ideas, was to be a way to feed myself. And who should know I would soon enough fall in love with wedding photography? Perhaps it is a girl’s natural instinct to take liking for all things soft, beautiful and romantic?
There is much more fulfillment photographing for the individual and their personal albums, as opposed to feeding through wire images or dealing with corporations. My ideal of true photojournalism took a swing, as if I hadn’t understood before what it truly was, until now – Photographing the everyday, and what is closest to people’s hearts, has more sense of purpose than seeing that photo essay published.
Did you go to school to study photography?
I majored in Theatre and Sociology for my first degree, and later got a first class in Graphic Design. In some ways, photography came up with the modules but I never did receive formal training. You pick up nuances as you shoot.
How long have you been a photographer? Professionally, 3 years.
How would you describe your style? Evolving! Depending on the type of shoot, the climate, the mood. I always seek a judgement/a personal interpretation of the situation, while documenting it. Essentially, the photographer can choose what to see, and how to see it. With wedding imagery, I tend to pull away from the ‘hard-truths journalistic style’, moving towards romanticism, and yes, closer to fine-art while at the same time, journalism.
What type of cameras do you shoot with? Two Nikon D700s. It’s important and only fair for clients that a photographer shoots with a back-up camera body. Important occasions demand royal treatment. Recently, I’m also using the Nikon D3s. Its high ISO capabilities, of up to ISO 12500, can record images my eyes hardly see.
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera? The ability to make my clients feel at ease. It can make or break a picture.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
The Nikon 50mm F1.4. This nifty little piece of glass is good for portraits, close-ups, works well on the street, and if you move away from the subject it can also capture landscape at an appropriate (not too wide) perspective. It is light, and can fit into a large pocket or my handbag.
Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on? Not at the moment. I just purchased the new Nikon 35mm F1.4. It is stunning, sharp, and I can never quite get enough of it.
Ain’t your gear too heavy for a female?
With two cameras hanging down the shoulders for 10 hours, you bet! On the job I don’t think about it but the strain comes when the work ends. Fitness is an important factor to do the job well.
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
A pair of German expats flew me to their wedding in Sulz,in the Blackforest of Germany. I arrived a few days earlier and joined the family at their delicious home-cooked meals, cycled around the village and enjoyed the late summer. They drove to a sunflower field to get flowers and transformed their whole family garden into a gorgeous venue. It was an eye-opener how close to nature, how domestic things can be done with your own hands, as opposed to walking into a shop in Singapore with a your credit card to purchase all our wedding supplies.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?
Every wedding presents different situations and is never the same, even if it is held in a familiar setting such as a particular hotel’s ballroom, a certain church or type of home. Situations, sense of space, light temperatures, emotions of people, all can change very fast with the pace of the wedding and the photographer must be alert ALL THE TIME. I second photographers who say “If you can shoot a wedding, you can shoot anything.”
Can you share some images with us from a single wedding?
Can you share some of your personal work?
Here is an image I worked on in Berlin.