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The Eyes of Beauty

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Combining her love for beauty and zeal for travelling, Christina Tan found her muse in the world of photography, and choose to pursue the latter as full-time career circa 2014. Five years and 36 countries later, she has become one of the world’s most prolific female travel influencers through her Instagram moniker, @sassychris1, as well an ambassador for prominent camera brand. Hellobali wrap up a delightful quick chat with the Jakarta-based lens lady about various topics; from technical stuff to inspiring bits and pieces about her beloved profession, including her recent retreat to the gorgeous AYANA Komodo Resort. Here’s the story so far…

Hi Christina! Please tell a bit about yourself. When did you start your career in photography, and who / what inspires you?

I went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California where I had a strong focus on fashion and beauty. Working in the fashion industry led me to world travel where I discovered my life’s passion: photography. My sense of style and art is what got me into photography, but I didn’t start shooting landscapes until 2014. I’ve always loved to travel on my own and go on holiday to places I’ve seen in fashion/travel magazines. I told myself it’d be such a waste if I didn’t take photos of those destinations so I started to teach myself. It’s just happened naturally. I used to post photos taken on my personal holidays, and being on Instagram I suddenly got well known by all other pages who regrammed my photos. Well-known brands, magazines who’ve gone digital found me through Instagram as well. I must say though, it needs a dedication and consistency to post regularly to my existence. 

How many countries have you visited so far, and which one are your favourites? Please elaborate your reason?

I have visited 36 countries so far. I don’t have any target to complete any country list because that is not what travel is all about. I can go back to the same country over and over to explore different part of it; or simply because I had a nice memories and love to be there again. I would say Italy and Switzerland are my two favourite countries to visit; Italy for its culture, shopping, delish food, charming villages, interesting cities, and rugged, beautiful, variety of landscape. Switzerland for its breath-taking landscape that looks amazing in every season especially in winter, systematic infrastructure, thus the fact I could never feel safer on my travel to Switzerland. 

We saw some very beautiful photos of your stay at AYANA Komodo Resort, any story behind the trip that you can share for our readers?

When I came to the resort back in September 2018 the weather was perfect. The sunset was spectacular, even during the blue hour the sky has a deep blue hue with magenta saturated colors. However on last evening when I was taking a shot on the Naga Pier from the lobby, the rain was pouring suddenly. I waited for almost an hour until the sky was opened up again. The waiting turned out to be worthwhile as the photo was featured on Condé Nast Traveler US magazine, Volume VIII 2018, The Southeast Asia edition! 

What is the most fascinating aspect of Labuan Bajo’s tradition and culture that you’ve experience during your stay at AYANA Komodo Resort? Did you get to try any local food? 

I live all my life in Jakarta and I am so used to city life. I am not a sea person at all. My current globe-trotting life style put me on a full-time stress although you might find it hard to believe. Nevertheless I feel so at ease during my trip in Labuan Bajo. We sailed around the islands nearby with Ayana Komodo’s private yacht/ boats (alternately). To my surprise I was really enjoying. The feeling to be somehow drifting the calming sea is indescribable. The hike to Padar Island was one of my favourites; the picture doesn’t do it justice at all. It was just so incredible! 

We love your Instagram moniker, ‘@sassychris1’, any story behind the name? 

It’s quite simple really. Sassy means full of spirit, lively, bold, witty, confident, a bit cheeky sometimes; so I thought that suits my personality. I want to portray my travel life as much as in those aspects as well; for instance I am not afraid to travel solo around the world. I hate not being able to go just because I have no companion. 

What music do you listen to when you’re editing? And as someone who travels regularly, how do you do your post- production on-the-go; any handy, practical tips for travel photographer?

 Every time I go somewhere I always have a few songs I played over and over, whether because they were popular at that moment, or suits the type of vacations, or something I listened in certain places I visited. When I edit the photos I took on that specific trip I will listen to those songs to recall the moods. Most of the scenes on my photos are inspired by the music I like, whether it’s pop, dance, rap, or chill. I always carry my laptop with me hence I always do post-production with Lightroom and Photoshop. However for anyone who wants to edit fast, Snapseed apps is the best option. 

Name us three of your travel essential beside cameras (and the reason why)? 

Smartphone– this is obvious 🙂 because I need it to capture instant photos or video as a backup. To work and to connect with my loved ones. Make up kit – as I have to be presentable when I meet clients in person 🙂 Good, comfortable walking shoes – as I walk mostly. 

How do you educate yourself to take better pictures? 

I look at references from books, magazine, social media and internet. However most importantly, I keep on shooting to train my eyes. 

Tell us a bit about your camera. What kind of gear that you currently love to use, and which is your favourite lens type?

 I am a Nikon Indonesia Official Photographer Partner for its mirrorless Z series. My current gear is Nikon mirrorless Z7. My favourite lens is either Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4S or AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 ED VR, followed by AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II. I love wide angle lens because it suits my needs as a landscape photographer, allowing me to capture the most of the scene as possible. My second favourite is telephoto lens, which can be used for both portrait and landscape photography. On top of this camera I always use NiSi Filter for my sunrise and sunset scenes to balance the sky and the fore ground, mainly GND Filters. Occasionally I use drone to capture aerial photos. My current drone is DJI Mavic Pro. 

Explain a bit about your work flow. What kind of tools do you use for post processing?

I always shoot in RAW files. I do all my edit on my computer, either on my iMac or my MacBook, depends on whether I am traveling or not. I will start do basic editing in Lightroom such as exposure correction, shadow/ highlight adjustment; then continue to Photoshop. I do like using Nik Collection Colour Effect Pro in Photoshop. My workflow is really simple indeed. 

What motivates you to continue taking pictures? Would you think of another career path in the future? 

There is a deep satisfaction in my heart if my photos can move my audience’s emotion, whether to inspire them to appreciate nature, good life, to travel more, to learn about photography or to choose a career path like mine. That’s what keeps me going. At the moment I have not think of another career path in the future as I am still enjoying what I do. Even if I did I’ll probably think about something related. 

What is your next project that we should anticipate? 

I will be collaborating with Okinawa Prefectural Government to explore Okinawa as a destination to enjoy its rich cultural heritage as well as natural beauties. 

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