New Gen #12: Photographer Jayden Tan's portraiture and still-lifes capture what it means to be Singaporean in 2019
When did you fall in love with photography?
Photography was initially a tool to document my life on my now-defunct blog. My relationship with photography changed when I decided to leave my first job to pursuit it as a career in 2013. I fell in love with my camera as a canvas when I realised that light is like a metaphorical paint that you can use to create art with.
Your photographic work consists mainly of portraiture. How do you work with your subjects to ensure you get the best shot while they remain comfortable in front of the camera?
The shooting process is always like a performance when photographing people. With the technical aspect in the background of my mind, I focus on directing and verbalising what I am looking at, and what I want to achieve for the shot. It's involves directing, cheerleading, and a bit of miming.
Where do you draw your influences from?
Lately, I have been influenced by my dreams. I fall asleep very easily, and can get vivid dreams every night. They come alive in full colour, sound, story, and sometimes even smell. I have been learning to tap into these dreamscapes.
I also get inspired by fashion photographers who are very bold with lighting such as Chuando and Frey, Mert and Marcus, as well as Nick Fancher. I also love conceptual photographers such as Hendrik Kerstens, David Uzochukwu, Maciek Jasik, and Alex Stoddard.
What is your process of finding new and exciting locations, subjects, and concepts to shoot?
I ask wedding photographers for locations! They are very good with finding picturesque and unique locations in Singapore. I usually look for interesting faces, as well as makeup artists, hair and fashion stylists on Instagram. I keep a bookmarked folder of these saved IG posts. I revisit them to contact the person when a suitable concept comes along.
Do you have any close collaborators you work with?
My best friend @josiahchua! I've known him since secondary school. He's an amazing fashion designer, stylist and writer.
What do you hope to achieve through your photography?
Smiles on the people who look at my work, because they were amused, or were able to relate to the work.
Do you have any tips for other aspiring photographers?
Find your creative trigger. My trigger comes from a very dark place, and I channel that energy and emotions into my work.
What would be your most memorable photograph?
The one with @ell4d wearing the Singapore Airlines uniform, Good Morning towel headpiece, and soy sauce chilli packets as earrings.
Name the Singaporean artists, designers, and creatives who you admire.
Dionna Lee and Sean Ashley (@studio.oooze), Kelly Lim (@kllylmrck), Lim Si Ping (@hands.on), Jeffrey Koh (@flabslab), Qixuan Lim (@qimmyshimmy), and Bernice Chua (@eatdiamonddust).
Name one location or object that you wish to photograph.
I have a weird obsession with the moon. It would be a dream to do a self-portrait on the moon.
What's one change you wish to see in Singapore.
How do you see your photographic work developing in the future?
I foresee my personal work maturing into an even more artistic direction, hopefully one that's more story-driven with the technical finesse taking a backseat.
Check out more of photographer Jayden Tan's photographic work on Instagram. He will be launching his production studio Headquartors this September.
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