In Conversation: Marc Tan of Studio Periphery On The Importance Of Light When Photographing A Home

If your Instagram algorithm serves you any home and living content at all, the odds are good you would’ve seen the work of Studio Periphery. The Singapore-based photography studio is responsible for some of the most aesthetically-pleasing photographs, whether it be the interior design of a newly-renovated apartment or the facade of a new store at Marina Bay Sands.

While we’ve all seen the results that the camera has produced, it’s not often we get to find out more about the process behind each photograph. Here, Marc Tan, founder of Studio Periphery gives us a peek into his shooting process and how light plays a crucial role in illuminating every corner of a home.

What is the story behind Studio Periphery?

Studio Periphery started with an ex-business partner in 2015. The partnership lasted three years by which point we’d realized that we had very different ideas on where we wanted to take the business, creative direction, and type of work we were keen to take on. Since then, it’s just been me, with my wife Amy of Pupil Office handling the back end of the business and working with various assistants over the years on shoots. I’d like to think Studio Periphery specialises in photography and videography with a focus on design (interiors, architecture, furniture), with a deeper interest in quiet luxury and technical precision.


How would your clients describe you in 3 words?

Particular, moody, and easy-going.

Where d"Put simply, I’m only interested in portraying and framing my subject matter in as pure a way as possible with as little drama or distraction." o you find inspiration? "Put simply, I’m only interested in portraying and framing my subject matter in as pure a way as possible with as little drama or distraction."

These days a lot of my main inspiration comes from furniture catalogues - Rimadesio, Molteni & C in particular - sad, drony music, and of course the subject matter itself. The latter is probably the most important, as design globally is becoming more often one and the same, and it’s becoming tough to find something truly thought-provoking.


Favourite artists or photographers?

In no particular order: Joel Fletcher, Ezra Stoller, Fernando Guerra, Kenji Aoki, Kazuki Nagayama, Larry Chen, Robert Rieger, Edward Hopper, Yu Nagaba, Vincent Van Duysen, Pierre Yovanovich.

What does photography mean to you personally?

Put simply, I’m only interested in portraying and framing my subject matter in as pure a way as possible with as little drama or distraction. Of course, this doesn’t always happen because we have to take into account what is required by the client, and every client will have a slightly different brief.

But purity and a sense of quiet and calm are something that looms over my work naturally. Perhaps melancholy is a more fitting term for the kind of images I hope to achieve.


What do you look out for when shooting spaces?

The quality of light, the direction of light, materiality, are the walls straight, are the sheets pressed,  how a space feels…

Instinctively I will then try my best to translate that into a two-dimensional image, with the feeling of a space being the most important. I also cannot tolerate replica furniture, which unfortunately is a huge problem.

How does lighting influence your interior photography?

This entirely depends on the design of a space and the materials used. Some spaces work best with strong, directional natural light to really give the design life, some work with a flatter noon light, and some work both ways. Depends on what my or the designer's intentions are.


How has lighting played a crucial role in capturing the essence and atmosphere of interior spaces?

Natural lighting is crucial. Artificial lighting must be done thoughtfully and with finesse. In photography, both good and bad lighting is amplified.


Do you have any specific spaces that you’d love to photograph?

Shooting an Aman project would be lovely.


Any advice you’d give to aspiring photographers?

Have a point of view. Everything else is technical.