Hailed as Singapore's youngest wedding photographer on record, Klaus Tan is now one of our Amigos! He got his hands on the Petzval 85 Art Lens and translated his skills for capturing soft colors from his wedding photography to exploring his own artistic capabilities.
Please introduce yourself to the Lomography community and the readers of the Online Magazine.
I’m Klaus Tan from Singapore, currently running my photography label ‘CHUTTERSNAP’. I’m also an ambassador at Unsplash (the world’s leading stock photography platform) and my specialties are photographing cityscapes, stock and people.
Stock photography is probably what I’m most prominently known for - they’ve garnered some 400 million views and 2 million downloads on Unsplash alone. You probably would’ve seen my images at least once before! They’ve appeared on major publications such as the Telegraph, Huffington Post, Insider and Forbes.
How did you get started with photography?
The world of optics always fascinated me since young. The excitement of being able to see further, shape light and capture what I saw from different perspectives permeated my younger days. This unending fascination was further fuelled by my father’s modest collection of 2 cameras and 2 lenses. He was a ‘professional enthusiast’ I’d say, possessing professional grade DSLRs but without having photography as a full-time career. I’d sneak out these cameras to play when I studied in primary school, just to satisfy my inner cravings!
I’d always look at the largest publications around or collaborations with camera manufacturers and was occasionally told, “perhaps, one day you’ll be featured up on these platforms!” These few words of encouragement sparked the desire to take photography seriously, invest in this passion and take it to greater heights. The fulfillment from photography, receiving the smiles of people who are delighted that they look great, or knowing that my images have been put to good use on international publications, or even that of an awestruck fan in wonder of familiar scenes captured with a different flavor and perspective. That’s what keeps me going!
How would you describe your style as a photographer?
BOLD. STRIKING. DEFINITIVE. All photographs are distinguishable by the element of ‘balance’. There’s not much editing involved, as I love to capture scenes just as how you’d see them in real life. It’s counter-intuitive, I know but the natural aesthetics suit my preference. Whilst the artistic style, in terms of framing and colors, already screams “it’s a Chuttersnap photograph!” by itself, what adds to the flavour of my style is the love of pursuing the most unconventional of concepts at exotic locations. Essentially, I love to make Singapore look foreign to even Singaporeans themselves! I’d get queries asking, “where’s the location which you shot that photograph?” “Is this in Singapore?” “what did you do to get that shot?” That’s when I know the image is successful - it must be provocative in engaging interaction with viewers.
What/Who do you consider as the greatest influence in your craft?
The publications that have shaped my style - NEW YORK TIMES, LIFE Magazine, VOGUE, VSCO.
How do you develop your skills?
By referencing a wide variety of media content. I’d look through any material that contains an image - intentionally scour the internet for advertisement campaigns, read magazines about the high society, scroll through social media posts, browse the newspapers, visit haute couture boutiques - even the Instagram feeds of my friends!
Through these I find out which styles work, and which don’t. It’s always a keen interest in observing and learning what makes international world-class imagery, and reinvent that! Also, by staying relevant: constantly updating myself with the industry’s latest offerings in hardware and software. That’s why I had to try the Petzval 85 for myself!
Can you tell us more about the shoot?
The Petzval 85 Art Lens is a huge departure from the trend of producing the fastest AF lenses, so I was really intrigued when I first heard about the lens. Reliving the first form of photography where focus had to be adjusted by hand, just turning the Petzval 85’s gold focusing knob reinvigorated such a thrill within me.
Furthermore, especially in a time when digital post-processing can emulate virtually any effect, this lens was a pleasure to use. The smooth and organic swirls, gently blurred in the background enables me to create images with a kind of authenticity I can indulge in. There’s no guilt when presenting my set of photographs shot with this lens - every element of the images’ surreal nature is authentic! The feeling of using the Petzval 85 was just as surreal as the images shot, cradling the embodiment of 178 years old engineering marvel of a lens in my hands, and it really complements my style.
All this, packaged within a sleek and elegant shiny metal body allows aficionados of photography to appreciate true photography as an art form, in its rawest nature.
Can you share with us how it was like using the Petzval 85 Art Lens?
We created these images at the Marina South Pier in Singapore. The concept was to create a series of images that spoke of the harmony between modernity and nature, a marriage of these two supposedly polar opposites. It very much embodies the Petzval’s image style itself, which delivers sharp focus on the subject but gradually transits into a creamy blur as the elements behind move out of focus.
I had my talent Zach Tang dressed in smart casual as I felt his looks would present a strong visual contrast against the soft green fields, which I would later blend into balance using the Petzval’s iconic swirling effect. The end result was amazing for myself as I was surprised at the amount of control I had final image’s aesthetics through the lens. We managed to create images that represented the essence of the Petzval, a beautiful balance between the new and the old, human elements and nature.
Do you have ongoing or upcoming projects that you would like to tell the community about?
I’ve just completed a project which was awarded the 1st prize in the CDL SYPA 2018 award, a feature of my ‘Space Sustainable’ series on Petapixel and a few collaborations with international hospitality brands. As for the future, it sure is exciting! Expect something different and unique as always.
Klaus used the Nikon D750 with the Petzval 85 Art Lens.