A Photographer's Perspective of Taiwan

I begin my day above a sea of clouds, watching them slowly flow as I wait for the sun’s rays to emerge. I watch as a handmade wooden boat flickers in flames — on fumes of smoke the Gods sail home. I stand above sheer cliffs that plunge into shades of blue. This is Taiwan, Asia’s hidden gem.

Sea of Clouds
Dong Gang Boat Burning Festival
Qingshui Cliffs

On this geologically activity island, constant tectonic movement has produced awe-inspiring mountains, precipitous cliffs, dramatic valleys and folding mountain ranges. All of these natural wonders, plus a vibrant cultural identity, contribute to a place like no other. And, when your eyes tune in, its beauty is unrelenting. Whether your interest lies in landscape, culture, street or a abstract photography, Taiwan won’t let you down.

A Temporal Paradox

Train Rice Fields
Temple 101

Tiled and decorated temples are overshadowed by tall buildings of glass and steel. High speed trains traveling at at 300km/h pass through rice fields as they offer up a reflection of the horizon. Streets and alleys are a juxtaposition of both the old and new: hip and trendy cafes neighbor shops with textured, historied walls and mismatched windowpanes. Even if repeating a previous route, you will find yourself constantly noticing change.

Street Photography

Morning Market Bicycle
Temple Juxtaposition
Fresh Street Morning Market

The social issues related to snapping photos in public areas that are prominent in the West are not as much of an issue in Taiwan. People are rather trusting, and are generally happy to let you photograph away. This freedom means a camera often becomes a tool for making new acquaintances, who are consequently curious as to why you chose to visit Taiwan.

The slow pace of morning markets is a personal favourite -- gazing upon vendors’ seasoned hands and imperfect produce while local residents stand on corners gossiping and the sounds of un-oiled bike brakes and sliding metal roller doors provide the soundtrack. This scene exemplifies the romantic chaos of life that is the heart and soul of small communities. And, it’s always a source for interesting and incredible photos!

Temple Traditions

Jiaobei red blocks (筊杯) thrown on the floor asking questions and blessings in hope of a clear answer or advice when paired with fortune sticks.

Jiaobei red blocks (筊杯) thrown on the floor asking questions and blessings in hope of a clear answer or advice when paired with fortune sticks.

Temple urns full of burning incense with thin plumes of smoke drifting.

Temple urns full of burning incense with thin plumes of smoke drifting.

Yellow joss paper money (金纸) burned to support the ancestors in heaven.

Yellow joss paper money (金纸) burned to support the ancestors in heaven.

These religious practices are not only fascinating to learn about but also to watch, participate in and capture.

Mountains

Taipei Cityscape

From day hikes with rewarding city views, camping under the milky way or to summit snow peaks, the terrain is incredible. Trails rich in history await any adventurer willing to dig deep for nature's reward. Amazing vantage points, twisting forests, bamboo labyrinths and the constant search for the perfect light.

Daba Jian Shan
Nanhu Shan
Hehuan Shan

Taiwanese Hospitality

Another aspect of Taiwanese culture is respect and honesty. Stories of people losing wallets, phones, or bags only to have them returned without any items or cash missing. While hiking I’ve stumbled upon locals preparing lunch only to be invited to sit down and join them. I’ve shared sunrises with fellow hikers who brew an extra cup of warm ginger tea for me on a cold winter morning. Most impressive of all, sometimes locals who aren’t too busy will simply drive you to your destination instead of giving you directions. Truly a country with a culture of hospitality and genuine people. It is easy to feel safe anywhere in Taiwan, day or night.

Taiwan Farmer
Taiwan Breakfast Shop Lady
Taiwan Man Hello

Taiwan is a multicultural paradise surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges, deep long coastlines, a handful of tropical islands. It shouldn't be a layover, it should be your next photography destination.

Curious to learn more?