Klaus Tan from 5.09 is a budding portrait, events and wedding photographer who has been featured multiple times on popular photography websites like Nikon Rumours, The Wedding Scoop, Fstoppers and many more. As of 2017 he is officially the head of the ‘CHUTTERSNAP’ line of photography services, a well known venture that includes events and wedding coverage, dabbling in a little bit of videography as well.
One of the most well known members of our school family, Klaus has been covering almost every major school event since his debut here in the humble grounds of AC and it is commonplace to see his name credited under most photos of the school and its events.
Hey AC! I’m Klaus Tan from 5.09, the guy behind Chuttersnap.
Chuttersnap provides wedding photography coverage for Actual Day, Solemnisation and PreWedding. It also specialises in films, portraiture and event coverage. A mix of boldness and unconventional creativity, Chuttersnap is best known for its unique style – clean, striking and definitive photographs. Features include leading international photography websites, luxury brand campaigns, wedding blogs, both local and international press etc. (Nuff’ introduction, it’s so boring!)
Fun fact! “Chuttersnap” wasn’t always my desired Instagram handle. It was originally supposed to be “shuttersnap”, however it had been snapped up by a lady in America. The “Ch” in Chuttersnap is pronounced similar to the “Ch” in “Chef”. So phonetically, “Shuttersnap”, but “charttersnap” is what everyone says. Hmmmm, that’s fine.
In 2013, I was inspired by the style of Shawn Chia from the cohort of ’15 (@chawnsterr) who shot gorgeous portraits of everyday life in ACSI. There was a certain depth to the images he created. Rich tones and a distinctive style of framing identify his works. I remember always waiting excitedly to see his latest images from all school events. That was my inspiration to actively capture candid moments around AC. James Fok from the cohort of ’15 (@fokkified), on the other hand, shot the most professionally done videos shown during chapel, for the Student Council and more. I’d never seen such beautiful student made films before and knew instantly that I had to learn filmmaking too. I’ve produced two campaign films for the Boys’ Brigade Singapore, and the AC130 music film under the direction of Josiah Ng of ’16. Far from the material returns I’d get from other projects, these three films were voluntarily produced, as I felt that I had to do something for the two institutions that had impacted my life the most.
I’ve played with compact cameras since I was four, and started using proper DSLRs when I was thirteen. Though the equipment I possessed was already ancient, 5-10 years old, I thoroughly enjoyed the adrenaline of creating images during my leisure time. Back in 2013, I could be spotted roaming the streets of Singapore on foot, venturing into touristy areas such as Chinatown, Marina and Little India to capture sights in “street photography”.
Chuttersnap was started as a trial Instagram account to showcase the photos I’d amassed to a public audience. Started in 2014 when dedicated photography accounts were scarce, it has since inspired more than 30 other photographers within AC to follow suit, experimenting with the fun of photography. Back then the photos were nothing compared to todays’: Oversaturated, cliched captions, terrible lighting. Gradually through grit and learning, everything started to change! Street photography started to bore me, as I looked towards a genre that would be more useful and expressive to shoot. Portraiture / Events / Weddings was the perfect genre. I listed my services on a classifieds page, and decided that my first three weddings covered would be complimentary. Whichever couples were willing to experiment, I’d have them! That was the first step towards many assignments to come.
Profit wasn’t a focus; there’s so much that you don’t need to be desperate. Instead, it’s the experiences from shooting the projects that I cherish the most. New friendships, new connections, or wacky wild journeys are things worth more than cash itself. I had to start from scratch. No contacts, no prior experience, and no one who could mentor me. Everything was instinctively experimental, I reiterate. I knew I had to establish a strong presence within my friends and subsequently, internationally. I posted daily back then, wrote articles for websites, actively sought opportunities to serve in school and at organisations. Advertisement was done through word of mouth and the internet. Sometimes photography or wedding blogs would feature content I create, and I’m always working on widening publicity through social media platforms. I’ve learnt all my techniques through physically experimenting and sites online. It’s crucial to be at the forefront of change, adapting the latest trends of style, technology and skills. These are implemented swiftly, true to my love for pioneering new things. I’m always looking for opportunities that challenge territories of my comfort zone, be it photographing dignitaries, connecting with other photographers / contacts or adventurous concepts etc.
Apart from the glamour of popularity, the job is physically demanding. My typical field pack minimally weighs 7kg, even sometimes reaching 10kg with the full studio kit. My work begins when everyone else’s ends. Post-processing images takes a minimum of 1 hour, with additional time spent on uploading and distributing these photos. Tagging featured people is also a necessity! A school event may end at 5pm, but work isn’t completed till 7+pm.
The goal is to deliver a set of images from any shoot within the same day, so relevant people can post their memories up at their usual Instagram ’posting times’. Speed in delivering deliverables is crucial to take advantage of the hype that lingers for only hours after events, which is something that I’ve tried to change. Old school photographers used to wait weeks before delivering images, but that won’t work anymore. Photographs I take are never watermarked as I believe they’re for sharing, whether credits are acknowledged or not. The intangible joy of a friend / client is my reward. I create not just images, but happiness too. I’m motivated by the smiles of friends and clients whose photos I’ve shot, or even once – unknown individuals turned friends through interaction in different events.
Tackling schoolwork isn’t an issue while I’m photographing. I tend to make my workflow as swift as possible, so timings don’t snowball into greater obstructions. Maintain a consistent and decent sleep cycle at 5-7 hours a day so you won’t sleep in class. Achieve content mastery solely by listening attentively to your lessons, so you won’t spend sleepless nights attempting to digest concepts or even spend precious time to attend extra tuition. I’ll respond to emails and enquiries during my recess and breaks, operations have been smooth. Many ask how I’m able to survive such an intense schedule (for my age). Whilst others game on computers, I shoot photos. There is time to do anything you love! To help the future generation of ACSian photographers and accelerate their journey is my primary focus as a graduating student now (1.5 more years left :’(), if anyone needs help y’know who to ask!
To ACSians who want to be entrepreneurs, grit is required. Rejections do surface often; just keep on at doing the good you’re doing, and He will lead the way! I’ve ever sent a hundred emails and received only one successful reply (oh well). It may seem like the most depressing time of your life – but getting up and continuing, knowing there’s His perfect plan for your destiny awaiting? That’s what keeps me going. My journey isn’t complete yet, but here’s what I’ve gathered from my tenure thus far.
Let’s connect! If you’re interested to start on photography or simply wanna talk / say hai, find me on Instagram at @kronprinzen or @chuttersnap (: