In Korea, self-study studios are trending and this experience can be done right here in Singapore thanks to Kevin Chu.
The graduate of the Hwa Chong Institution previously interned at GovTech, where he worked at Form.gov.sg. He then enlisted in the Air Force in 2018, where he worked in the SWiFT office, solving coding problems.
After finishing his national service, he worked on his own software projects and worked independently as a software developer for clients around the world.
He will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Singapore Management University this fall, but also made the leap to becoming an entrepreneur two months ago.
Call your own shots
fotomat recently opened for business on April 2, 2021 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
I like to code and create new systems. My sister has a fondness for film photography, so I had the idea to take advantage of her knowledge in photography and combine it with my interest.
I wanted to create a new photography experience in Singapore by letting people take their own portraits with the use of a camera shutter.
– Kevin Chu, founder of Fotomat
This was his way of making portrait photography more fun. By taking the photographer out of the equation, he hopes to favor more daring, expressive, and innovative postures, which come out more when people are given a private space.
Offering only black and white photography, Fotomat is aimed at all ages.
“For the older generation, black and white photography would remind them of the days when formal portraits were often taken with family members, especially on significant occasions, in the studios. For the slightly younger generation, Fotomat could remember the ‘neoprint’ machines that were in vogue at the time, ”Kevin said.
“For the youngest of them all, these exclusively monochrome images may seem unusual. Whatever it is, everyone can enjoy the experience at Fotomat ”.
More than just a “photo booth”
Fotomat is located in the Stamford Arts Center in the Bugis district, which is an incubator for art projects.
“We are grateful to the National Arts Council for welcoming us … This has allowed us to focus on developing this new concept of visual arts and continually innovating,” Kevin said, adding that Fotomat has done many trials and errors to improve the user experience.
He insisted that Fotomat is more than a photomaton.
When I first came up with the idea of Fotomat, I wanted to make it accessible and affordable for everyone, especially students and young adults.
Taking professional studio photography was previously reserved for special occasions such as weddings and graduations, but this is no longer the case with Fotomat because we are the first in Singapore to offer an artistic, unique and fun photo shoot experience to a nominal cost.
– Kevin Chu, founder of Fotomat
Prices start at $ 30 for a 15-minute session (unlimited shots for two) including two prints. Additional prints and digital copies are available at an additional cost. In addition, students and active military personnel enjoy a discounted rate.
When Fotomat first launched, Kevin said his customers were “full of praise” from Fotomat, sharing that they enjoyed the unique experience.
“They enjoyed the space, the private experience of directing their own plans, seeing the filming product and personal interactions with me.”
Being only 22 years old
Despite starting the business at the young age of 22 and starting a very new business idea, his family and friends never hesitated or criticized him.
“My father was an entrepreneur in his first career and he encourages me to be curious and adventurous. From a young age I have always had entrepreneurial ideas and I have developed some personal projects from his school “, he explained.
He added that everyone around him has always supported his ideas and that he often bounces off ideas from his family and friends.
Kevin also has a unique perspective: running Fotomat as a company is his secondary priority. Instead, their main goal is to use Fotomat as a platform for others to express themselves freely and have fun.
“We have enlisted the help of students from the National Technology University (NTU), the Polytechnic and La Salle who are doing arts and media-related studies to lead the study,” Kevin said.
“In addition to offering job opportunities to young people, Fotomat has become a platform to teach students interested in studio photography about the operation of professional studio teams. We also offer them a platform to share their artistic ideas with us and work with us in collaborations ”.
As a team of young adults, he believes Fotomat is well positioned to create new trends and better adapt to changing markets.
High growth since its inception
Covid-19 has been detrimental to many companies and Fotomat is no exception. Just after the intensified measures were announced, they received some cancellations from the reservation.
“To ensure the safety of our customers, we have limited the size of the group to two per session and sanitize our team before and after each session. We had to dismiss reservations with more than two people (but) we are comforted that everyone has supported Fotomat. “
According to Kevin, their slots filled up quickly, especially on weekends. Although Fotomat has experienced strong growth since its inception, it is not based on laurels.
“We will invest our profits to expand Fotomat so that everyone can experience this fun concept of photography. We will continue to innovate and test new concepts, ”he said, adding that they are exploring partnerships with strategic partners to accelerate their growth.
“My philosophy is great customer service. I like to have personal interactions with clients. I’m sure every customer has left with a smile on their face. “
Featured Image Credit: Fotomat