LOGIN/SIGN UP function is disabled for upgrade and maintenance. It will resume on 22/01/2022 10.30 AM SGT. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
Inspirations >> Photographer's Showcase

Canon Wedding Photography Special Feature: Grace Tan of Stories

Grace Tan has been a photographer for well over a decade, and since setting up her photography business (Stories), wedding photography has played a huge part in her blossoming career. With wedding shoots from Holland to Bangladesh to New Zealand, she’s gained vast knowledge to share with aspiring wedding photographers.

Couple exchanging wedding vows with rainbow overhead

EOS 5D Mark IIl, EF24mm f/1.4L II USM lens, f/2.8, 24mm, 1/640 sec, ISO 320

Tell us a little more about your photography business, Stories

Grace: I started venturing into the world of photography around 2006, and began my photography and video business in 2008. In 2010, the brand Stories.my was born, focusing on weddings, children and family photography. Our strengths lie in storytelling and evoking emotions through our visuals. That was why we created the brand name Stories. We believe in touching lives by building visual stories for the present and future generations. We do this by capturing life's moments, creating memories, and deepening relationships through our lenses.

What's your photography style? How do you differentiate yourself from the rest?

Grace: We believe in classic images that focus on emotions, letting the story of the day unfold naturally, and then being at the right place at the right time, anticipating the moment before it happens. In order to feel the entire story unfold, we look at a series of images that tell the story best. Our colours are natural so that years from now, you will remember the moment and not be distracted by a colour filter. The only difference would be black and whites that are also very classic. Other than the way we shoot and edit, we also aim to get to know our clients well through understanding them by sending a questionnaire before the wedding, meeting up to have chats, and even go as far as advising them to rearrange schedules to achieve the best outcome for photography. We also promise to deliver images as quickly as possible, within a month if possible. We have a great track record as it is now our 11th year of operations and have over 100 positive reviews on Facebook and Google.

Chinese wedding tea ceremony EOS 5D Mark IIl, EF35mm f/1.4L USM lens, f/1.8, 35mm, 1/640 sec, ISO 250

How should one go about starting a wedding photography business?

Grace: Remember that you are running a business. A lot of photographers are artists first, then business owners second. You have to look at processes, ensure that you get the basic principles right. If you don't even respond to enquiries after 2-3 days, or tell potential clients that you will call them back, but never do, how can that person trust you with their big day? If you make your wedding couple wait 4-5 months for their photos, they will start to get upset. So running a wedding photography business is not just about getting the art right, it is about getting your business processes aligned so that you will service your clients well.

Any tips for a pre-wedding shoot?

Grace: Communicate expectations with your client, and ask them what they would like to have as their images. At the end of the day, it is all about them, what they like and how these images will remind themselves of the love they have for each other. A longer pre-wedding duration doesn't necessarily mean a better session. Remember that these are not models, they are real people who will get tired of posing, so you need to work with their energy levels too.

How do you 'capture the moment'?

Grace: Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate! If the bride is talking about her father, my eyes are not only on her, but I am looking at her father's reactions. If she is walking over for a hug, I have already pre-selected an angle and positioned myself for the image to happen. Be alert, listen and observe. And then be quick to react.

Bride getting emotional with mother

EOS 5D Mark II, EF85mm f/1.2L II USM lens, f/1.2, 50mm, 1/640 sec, ISO 800

What are some of the wedding photography trends in Malaysia?

Grace: Everyone loves smaller, more intimate, outdoor weddings, but it is really quite a challenge in hot, humid Malaysia! The style is very natural, colours to look more filmic, and simplicity is key.

How should someone who is starting out price their photography service?

Grace: This is always a huge challenge. Are you doing this as a full time job, or part time? If you are just freelancing, I suggest to start shooting with other experienced photographers so that you know what to do in a real wedding shoot. If you are an amateur and want to take on a wedding shoot on your own, and have at least two photographers shooting a full day wedding, you can start by charging RM2,000 and above. But please inform your couple of your experience level so that their expectations are set. Professional photographers charge anything between RM4,000 to RM10,000 and beyond for a wedding photography shoot, including editing and albums etc...

What are the most exciting wedding shoots you've ever done?

Grace: In 2008, I went to Bangladesh for the first time, photographing an epic Bangladeshi wedding over 10 days! We didn't know the culture, what to expect (certainly not 6,000 guests for the ceremony) and the language, but that didn't stop us having an amazing time. Some other interesting weddings include photographing in locations like Santorini, Australia, Holland, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand and more. And then there are those in our backyard, like the time we photographed a Chinese couple in Redang with no guests but the 2 of them! But the interesting thing was that the whole wedding ceremony was set up with chairs for hotel guests to sit and witness their wedding...strangers to the couple! 

Bangladesh weddingEOS 5D Mark II, EF135mm f/2L USM lens, f/2, 135mm, 1/250 sec, ISO 2000

If there's one thing you've learned from your career, what is it?

Grace: Wedding photography is exhausting, exhilarating, fun and yet can burn you out from its intensity. Pace yourself, look for a great team of people to work with, and do it while you still have the energy! Take care of your body because you only have one, and if you are injured, your career is over. Think further than just the next shoot or the year ahead. Dream about where you would like to be 10 years from now and work towards your goal.

Receive the latest update on photography news, tips and tricks.

Be part of the SNAPSHOT Community.

Sign Up Now!

Grace Tan

Grace Tan
Grace Tan is a photographer specialising in weddings and families. Her creative journey started when she was a teenager. She was interested in the art of filmmaking and had pursued it as a degree. After working in the local television and film industry as an editor and director for a few years, photography began to capture her heart. She took baby steps into the world of photography which led her to photographing weddings and families.