By Maan D’Asis Pamaran
As a photographer who does both glamour shots and geography, Jose Tan always endeavors to bring out the beauty of his subjects.
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“I love moody, dark but vibrant images. Highlights and shadows have to be pronounced. The elegance of the subject and the grandeur of the background or location must be shown as much as possible,” he explains.
The photographer, who hails from Molo, Iloilo, found his affinity for the camera at an early age. He recalls an early exposure to the art, with his travel agent mom’s brochures and magazines that featured beautiful places and fashion shows. “I could safely say that at that age, I was already immersed with what perfectly composed and lighted photographs are even without a camera.” His first camera came courtesy of his architect dad. “When I was 17, one of my dad’s clients paid him partially in kind and in cash. Part of that payment is a Canon T50 film camera which I gave to my daughter who still has it up to this day.”
He was soon experimenting with his camera. “It was a hit and miss in the beginning. But the more you go out and take photos, the better you get,” he recalls. Flickr opened up more opportunities for him to improve his craft, with feedback from photographers all over the world. “The next stage was when people started to notice and pay me for my work, the desire to get more paid projects became my main driving factor. So I thought I had to further expose my work and increase my marketing efforts.”
At 44 years old, his photography journey is already a long and illustrious one. He set up a commercial studio in Thailand, and has since worked internationally with several Hollywood, Bollywood celebrities, artists, beauty queens and models, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, and CEOs.
He is a professional photographer of America, and was awarded as a runner-up in the US Magazine W’s “The Shot” competition in 2016. When he is not out shooting, he conducts workshops and mentoring sessions for those aspiring to make their photography as a profession.
He talks about his body of work. “In general, I see photography as an important platform to express my creativity. Likewise it serves as a common denominator with other artists which almost always open up opportunities for collaboration. As an educator and content creator, photography allows me to share my knowledge and experience with my students and fellow artists.”
The advice he gives to those learning the craft is thus: “You have to embrace your photography as part of you so you would really know what it means to be a creative or content creator. Understand that it is a journey that needs to be enjoyed and respected with all its many different stages. Photography will define you as a person. It will also serve as a mirror of who you are. Through the years of photography, the art has become a sort of a refuge and a friend especially during the challenging times of my life. That is how it is to me.”