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Get To Know The Photography Studio Spotlighting Johor's Creative Culture

If you’re a regular reader of Female, you’ll have come across Can Studio JB by now. They created a custom artwork (above) for our recent July issue, on occasion of us celebrating the coolest food personalities of now.

Behind it all: Johor Bahru-based husband and wife Weishen Tan (right) and Holly Withers (left) — together, a multi-faceted creative outfit that execute photography and food styling, as well as workshops at their beautiful 2,300 sq ft studio.

Sun-disco.

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Having most recently kickstarted a new series titled ‘Beings’ — in which they interview various creatives from Johor Bahru — it’s right up the alley of those who enjoy discovering people’s back-stories a la Humans Of New York. These interviews are often intimate and feel spontaneous, and are accompanied by beautifully-shot images — something that’s quite a rare treat these days.

Here, we chat with one-half of the team, Withers, on what goes behind the scenes at Can Studio JB:

I see that Can Studio has recently started a project called ‘Beings’. What’s the rationale behind it and what led you to this idea?

We wanted to document the emerging creative scene here in JB, and get to know others outside of our small circle of friends. Its important for us to continue personal projects and shoot for fun, rather than only focusing on commercial work. We’ve met some incredible people over the past few months and you really never know what’s behind closed doors.

How does Can Studio operate and when did it first begin? 

Weishen’s been working in photography for around ten years now, but our studio has been operating for two. It depends on the project, but we usually go off separately and create mood boards for the concept or direction for a shoot, then bring them together and discuss which ones we are going to focus on. We’re pretty flexible and work well together, so things usually change along the way before we get to the final product.

What would you say is your aesthetic USP? 

I love my work to reflect simplicity, so I try to style my food with a ‘I just threw this together’ kind of tone. My secret weapon and closest companion when food-styling is light, whether its soft or direct lighting, I’ll always evaluate this first before beginning to style a scene.

What are some interesting projects you’ve worked on as a food stylist/photographer?

At the beginning of the year we worked with Iskandar Puteri to create a cookbook for their Edible Park Festival. Weishen and I shot, styled and produced the book, and worked with a few talented friends on recipe development, graphic design and storytelling of local agriculture and sustainability. It’s a photo-heavy 100 page cookbook filled with recipes using ingredients found in Johor.

What tips would you have for beginners on how to compose a great food photo?

Find or direct your light source first, and have an idea of the mood or tone of the photo before you start fiddling around too much. Don’t be scared to freestyle and change your ideas throughout the shoot.