Interview: Photographer Ki Tan (Netherlands)
Can you tell us a little about you?
I'm Ki. I was born in Indonesia and live since childhood in The Netherlands. I studied Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, but started working in the IT right after graduation.
I've noticed for myself that I'm constantly looking for sceneries with nice lighting and patterns, lines and shapes and I used to carry a camera standard in my school/officebag, so Photography has always been in my veins.
I have no preference for a typical style or sort of photography, I love to do Landscape, Cityscape, Seascape, Classic Still Life, Macro, Studio, Street, High Speed, Human Interest, Documentary, Portraits, Composites, Food, Product, High Speed, Illusionism, Minimalism, Lines&Patterns, Animals, Sport, Stereo, Conceptuals, Architecture, Strobist, Lightpainting, Selfies, etc...
I had several friends who would model for me at odd times and when I had a crazy idea I asked them and they would always come and work with me for free.. so at one moment I told them I was going to find a way to make some money for them, because they would always be on standby for me, but I didn't know what and how. Then in 2015 I organized the first workshop with the revenues for the models... Flower and Milk... First workshop 2 particpants.. second workshop 5 participants then one of the participants shared the results on FaceBook and ever since my workshops were full....
And because I wanted to share more knowledge I developed the Levitation Workshop then Portraits with Low and High Key, then Creative Still Life and currently there are around 30 different Workshops, Courses and PhotoShoots that I have developed and conduct.
How and when did you get into photography?
My father studied architecture in the USA then returned to Indonesia to become a painter and profesional photographer. My parents separated when I was 2 or 3 so I didn't got to know my father until I graduated from high school but at the age of 12, I made a picture of my mother and aunt in Keukenhof with red tulips and I really took it from a low low angle. My mom sent that picture to my father in Indonesia who in return sent a Nikon F1 back.. since then I'm hooked on photography. I learned from friends and family, but mostly autodidact and enjoyed taking pictures ever since.
What does photography mean to you?
I love photography and all the aspects that comes with it... it is a way for me to express my creativity and to manifest the pictures I have in my head.
Photography means for me to play, relax and/or be creative.. If for instance I shoot with a model I interact with the model and I play with the lights, the props and the accesoiries. Then behind the computer I can use my imagination and creativity to create the final image.
And it's a passion and more then just a hobby. Every Weekend I give workshops, arrange photoshoots or conduct courses on photography and photoshop. Beside that I love photohunting together with friends which nurtures friendship and social contacts.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
For the classic still life photography I usually like for my photos to resemble paintings.
For street photography I do mainly BW, For landscape, cityscape and seascape I like long exposures. For animals I like the sunrise and blue hour with fog. For portraits I like low key
For studio shoots I like to include the mood
While landscaping I still look for street photos Ilike to use props like flower, milk, honey, custard, balloons, snakes, wings, bodypaint, smoke, etc etc, Oh yes one more thing... I always edit my photo's. But these are rules I regularly break. And actually my style is as versatile as my interests are.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Sometimes I get an idea while contemplating.. sometimes I see a picture and I immediately see possibillities to improvise on the theme. Sometimes friends ask me to make a certain picture that they like and I then make variations of it. I often look at photography books and books about art and paintings.
I use pinterest. I use google, facebook and instagram as a source for inspiration just by looking at pictures from others.
I talk with Friends, I look at their pictures, I read books, I meditate and I use Pinterest, Google Facebook and instagram as a source for inspiration.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture ?
Sometimes I work with a moodboard. Sometimes I have a clear theme and matching props and accesoires but then sometimes I start a shoot completely blank and then upon seeing the model dressed up and/or talking with the model up front I get pictures in my head which we then work out together.
So if this question is whether I'm structured then the answer is definitely “NO”.. I hear that I can be quite chaotic during my creative process. When I'm in the middle of the process the ideas come up spontaneously and aplenty.
Studio, on location or both?
Anywhere.. no preference... I'm comfortable shooting with 1 light or multiple lights in a studio as well as available light with or without added strobist lighting on location.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I consider myself a paid hobbyist since I have found my passion in organizing conceptual shoots and transfering knowledge through workshops, courses and travels. I consider myself lucky to be able to say that I don't (have to) do commercial projects and assignments.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Honey and Custard is always memorable because it's the most filthy shoot I ever developed. It's done with synthetic honey and very sticky. Even after a few weeks I would still find sticky spots on the way from the studio to the bath room.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I use a Nikon DSLR, a Sony SLR a Phase One Medium and I've used a Canon pocket which has now been replaced by a Huawei mobile. So although I've worked with Nikon all of my life I would not hesitate to switch if necessary.
As for my favourite lens, that would definitely be a fish eye, I always have one in my bag although I don't often use it, I just love the effect. The most used lens is the 24-70mm f2.8, but the 16-35 mm and the 70-200mm as well as the prime 50mm and 85mm will be within reach.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Do it because you like photography...
What do you think of our new magazine?
It looks excellent. It's nice to read th articles and compare the different views and answers on the same questions. Good concept. Thanks for the opportunity to be part of it.