My Singapore with Jana Yar: we’re crushing on a seriously cool inked-up, knocked-up lifestyle photographer and mum!

My Singapore mother with food photographer Jana Yar

Women of Singapore, we want to take a peek into your world: what you love about motherhood, living in this city and how you follow your own passions. We just had to chat to a mum whose look is seriously badass: the beautiful, and seriously inked-up, documentary film school graduate, Singapore LASALLE fine art school alumna, and now food (and family!) photographer, Jana Yar. Married to Singaporean local tattoo artist, Sam Yar, she is a stunning Slovakian mother to an energetic toddler with another baby on the way. She has called Singapore home for the last nine years and shares with HoneyKids five things she and her family love about their Singaporean life.

Your tattoos are beautiful and defining – tell us how other mums react to your look in Singapore?
My toddler son, Sam,  just started at a nearby local Singaporean preschool. I’m the only white-girl in my Chinese-Singaporean neighbourhood – and the only one with full black sleeve and back tattoos plus piercings! I was afraid people would be weirded out by my look, but I was accepted to the point where other school mums offer me their phone numbers to discuss the kids and the school! I dare to ask questions at the parent-teacher nights – they admire that! I think once you have children all you care about is their wellbeing and you forget the ‘differences’ – I truly love how accepting Singaporeans are of diversity.

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Jana braving the tattoo needle circa 2006
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Spending time with the extended family
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Happiness is birthday cake with nai nai
Jana with Sam outside their brand new BTO (build to order) home Photo: Carli Teteris
Spending the day exploring
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Papa Sam and baby Sam two peas in a pod doing their thing
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On the job photographing food and beverage with mini assistant
Family Spending the day at the Singapore zoo
Day trip with the family to Singapore Zoo
Autumn festival lantern celebrations Singapore family
Celebrating mid autumn festival with lanterns
Chinese New Year with the family Singapore
Chinese New Year with the Singapore family

Are you a kiasu mum? What parenting tips can you share with us?
We try to practise mindful parenting so, when I’m not working, I try to be fully present for my son without any distractions (like computer, phone, TV etc) and I let him lead the play. I don’t force things on my son, and I have realistic expectations of his capabilities – I don’t ask him to be perfect and I don’t expect myself to be either. I’m trying to become more Montessori and less kiasu! I love the free-play movement that Singaporean parents are getting into.

Our free time is devoted to doing whatever our son wants to do – one of the perks of my job is the flexibility to spend time with my boy any day of the week – we love visiting the Science Museum, Art Science Museum, and all the galleries with kids’ activities, like the National Gallery, and we also do lots of outdoor free play.

Right now I’m shooting a lot for the food and beverage industry (F&B). Sam has come with me on some daytime photoshoots – for a kiddo, he’s so well accepted on the F&B scene. We love hanging out together and I’m lucky I can take him to work with me from time to time.

Can you let us in on your favourite places to eat with the family?
We love Chinese food, our favourites are Din Tai Fung, Paradise Dynasty, Soup Restaurant, and for the real thing, nothing beats the People’s Park complex and the surrounding area (see our guide t0 Chinatown with the kids). But I’m lucky, as a food photographer, I shoot many amazing venues with amazing food, so I make sure I try it all! Singapore has such a vibrant food scene – and so many venues are welcoming of children.

After nine years living here, what do you love the most about Singapore?
I now have a big proper family – something I never had back home. Lots of people at one table, talking and laughing. My husband has two sisters, one has plenty of kids, and we have an amazing nai nai (‘grandmother’ – my husband’s mum) who cooks like a goddess! We really enjoy all the festivities together, like Chinese New Year or mid-autumn festival, where we go around with lanterns and overdose on mooncakes. My life here is good.

Your photography is stunning – what are you working on and where can we see more of your work?
I not only shoot F&B, I also do family photography which you can see on my website, I’ve spent almost a lifetime getting to know and photograph interesting inked people, which I document on my blog. I’m new to Instagram but some of my latest photos are on @JanaYarPhotography (family stuff) and @ensofphotography (F&B). 

I’m working on my portraits of Singapore’s new generation of artists – people I’ve had the pleasure of shooting throughout the past year. I’m planning an exhibition when it’s done. I’ll keep you posted!

I’ve just finished a collaboration in Hong Kong with Giffard Liqueurs and Syrups on tattooed bartenders and we’re working on a Singapore version, too.

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Jana Yar: on top of the world on a cocktail photoshoot in Hong Kong (Ce La Vi Hotel)

Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy!
The best Asian dishes you must try in Singapore with your kids
How to nurture your child’s creativity
Venture into the wild: a new virtual reality adventure opens at the Art Science Museum
Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf and RIE: choosing a parenting and education style in Singapore

Photography: courtesy of Jana Yar
Feature image: Richard Chen