MR. JERRY AVENAIM SAID TO HIM: “STAY
TRUE TO YOURSELF, AND YOU WILL NEVER FAIL. WITH THAT, I WILL SAY THIS…
IF YOUR SHIP DOESN’T COME IN, START ROWING! THAT’S WHAT SEPARATES THE
EN FROM THE BOYS.” RONALD N. TAN CAME A LONG WAY TO GET WHERE HE IS NOW. AND IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.
Ronald N. Tan strongly believes that dreams do come true and is living proof of that. He also knows that it doesn’t just happen by itself. If you want your dreams to come true, you have to make it happen. Born in 1981 in the former Burmese capital of Rangoon, in an academic family, he moved to the United States where he broke free in order to follow his passion. Now, Ronald N. tan is a respected photographer, with a unique and ownable style, and well known in the universe of fashion and art. We discovered Ronald N. Tan for the first time last year, and now, after several earlier publications, we had a little chat with this talented artist.
Ronald tell us, how did an academic microbiology student end up to be one of the most recognized up and coming fashion and art photographers of this time?
Ronald: Self-discovery. I had creative inclinations and endeavors, but because of my upbringing, such pursuits were discouraged. The real truth came when I realized on the 30th of January 2006 that I was gay at age 25 to the song “Just Be Me” by Kirsty Hawkshaw.
I felt the magnanimous stress lifted from my shoulders and for the first time in my life, I was free to express myself. With euphoria and heightened confidence at my side, I decided to nurture my artistic abilities and simultaneously challenge my upbringing. I was also encouraged from my friend Jonathan Waiter’s “Just Do It!” attitude towards chasing after my dreams. What better example of symbiotic co-existence between science and art than in photography?
There is a certain nostalgic, melancholic beauty in your work. Can you tell us a about your style and technique?
Ronald: I consider myself a “photo-painter”. I use dodging and burning techniques in post process to achieve the “illustrated” mood to my photographs. My style was my own variant derived from the style of retoucher Amy Dresser.
Ronald, you were born in Rangoon, Burma. How does this heritage influence your work as photographer?
Ronald: I had a stoic upbringing and taking up photography breaks the mold and reconditioned my mindset to look at things in a different light. My Burmese/Chinese culture is opposite from the open Western culture. Embracing the beauty that is the human body in an open medium is considered taboo. Photography taught me to let go and embrace the masculine beauty—I find men beautiful. When I photograph my male models, I always present them in the fashion-inspired light and never cheapen their handsomeness and masculinity.
Being raised in a family of scientists, was it difficult to break free and get recognition from your peers?
Ronald: It was difficult to deviate from my family’s “occupational tradition,” but I’ve successfully challenged my upbringing and have earned my parents’ blessings to pursue my newfound career with full momentum.
What inspires you and what drives you?
Ronald: Ambition drives me. I am overly ambitious, goal-oriented, and self-motivated. I am inspired by many great photographers—as of current, I am deeply affected by the technical mastery of photographer Mr. Jerry Avenaim and the visual style of retoucher Ms. Amy Dresser.
After working in this field since 2006 – so really not that long – how do you see your evolution?
Ronald: I see my evolution as a work-in-progress. I’ve come a long way since 2006. I have a distinct and highly recognizable visual style. I’ve already found my “photographic voice” which has been constantly refined to be fluid and organic.
What is next for Ronald N. Tan? What is your goal?
Ronald: More publications and shooting covers for reputable gay magazines and gradually migrate to men’s fashion magazines. Please keep an eye out for me. ☺ -B-
We thank Ronald N. Tan for his enthusiastic cooperation and the exclusive premier of his photo's of fitness model Sean Harley.