Confession Of A Serial Killer

Some time ago, a mother emailed to inquire my photography service. I could tell she was very keen to have a family portrait made but she was hesitant and was held back by what I believed was "new mother (or parent) syndrome". I was sure I suffered from that too a decade ago: the constant anxiety a new parent feels whenever a routine is upset, something new is being explored, or when the whole family, especially the little one, is nudged out of a comfort zone.

She told me her toddler was very shy in front of strangers; she was worried their pictures would not look like the ones I displayed on my website (warm, happy, candid, natural types). She wanted to come visit my studio with her daughter to remove her inhibitions and basically to "check" if her daughter was comfortable with me. She wanted it on a weekend. Politely, I declined.

First, I don't charge a lot in this family portrait business ($250 basic fee), and I bank on a high turnover to make it work. I don't mind a short meeting during weekday office hours, but to have it on a weekend is a no-no for me because of (1) weddings and (2) my own family time. If I set a precedent, then the amount of time spent on subsequent meetings with interested parents would be overwhelming and unproductive.

Second (and arguably a more critical reason), the natural and candid moments and the happy and excited expressions I capture on kids' faces stem from the fact that they are meeting me and seeing the studio for the first time. The props, the colours, the cosiness they feel upon setting foot in there immediately set them at ease. It is with this first-time novelty that some of the more expressive pictures may be made.

Thirdly, I might not have much luck with ladies, and neither am I adept at small talk or intellectual discussion beyond the confines of club and international football, but I must confess I am slowly gaining a reputation as an aunty-killer (good with mature mothers and grandmothers) and am definitely a child-killer. Kids from the age 12 and below seem to find me disarmingly friendly, due to the fact that I am more than happy to "stoop down" to their level to communicate with them. To smell the flowers, you need to squat down after all, right? Of course, having parents who can interact well with their own kids (other than the standard 'look at uncle; look at the camera;  smile, laugh, don't move) helps tremendously in picture-making.

So back to the new mother and her child. Well, the little one smiled at me within 5 minutes of introduction and started dancing in front of the camera after 7 minutes. And dare I say it? I think I "killed the whole family" at that shoot. In the end, they ended up buying the whole batch of images.


There Is A Little History Here

Dr Jaime Koh (in spectacles) was an ex-colleague at Today newspaper. Both she and her partner Dr Stephanie Ho now run The History Workroom,  a research and editorial consultancy specialising in Singapore history and heritage. One fine day, they brought their adopted mongrel Benny to the studio for a family photo shoot. The handsome young dog was a bundle of joy and energy, but nonetheless, a gem to make photographs of.


Little Girl Reveals A Secret

Trust a little girl to keep a secret and the whole world will know about it. Haha...I am talking about the mural art that 11-year-old Clara has created. Screaming out loud are the words "I'm 40!!" and there goes mummy's best kept secret. I think people generally need an excuse to have a family portrait made. Be it to celebrate the Big O, a birthday or an anniversary. This is especially so camera phones are so prevalent now that every waking and sleeping moment can be documented. However, none captures a candid or tender moment as poignantly and honestly as The Family Man. These are moments that reflect the real you, the chemistry you share with your loved ones, and the DNA that flows in your blood. This is nothing a selfie or a wefie can replace.