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Taiwan: A Photographer’s Paradise? | PetaPixel

The reality is that if you hear about Taiwan, you most likely consider semiconductors, bubble tea, political struggles, and that “Made in Taiwan” sticker on considered one of your family electronics. Let’s neglect about all of that and permit me to redefine Taiwan for you and presumably make you add it to your bucket listing of locations.

I’m Alex Houghton, a photographer born in Australia and raised in Asia, which continues to be my residence until at the moment. I’m a photographer and graphic designer and have been privileged to name Taiwan my residence for a mixed interval of 19 years.

I’m an avid Fuji consumer — I began with one XT-1 and ended up shopping for 4 of them. I’m not sponsored or supported by Fuji however the construct and really feel for me was the closest factor to my mom’s Minolta, my first digital camera, however with that digital contact.

I primarily use a 35mm f/1.4 for my go-to but additionally love utilizing the 100-400mm and 56mm. I additionally discover the Fuji X sequence may be very compact and socially acceptable on a shoot – huge DSLRs typically evoke a adverse response from the topic attributable to their measurement and lack of subtlety, and the magic photographic second may be misplaced.

Taiwan is a Photographers Vacation spot!

One of many causes I like photographing Taiwan is that the whole lot that catches my eye has a narrative and a cultural depth – there are such a lot of pictures simply hiding in plain sight. Certain, there are numerous IG spots and all that, however when you vibe along with your surroundings, it’s like an augmented actuality of tradition that jumps out at you.

Taiwan is a land of texture, temper, and custom, and a spot of pure genuineness. No matter your topic curiosity is, Taiwan can provide it. What makes it even higher is that there’s a normal appreciation for pictures on this nation.

I actually take pleasure in interacting with native photographers and chatting about places and pictures. Individuals are very respectful and curious, and often, after they really feel my ardour for pictures, there may be an change of recommendation. I additionally make a observe of taking {a photograph} of the individuals I meet in order to doc the journey of a photographer in his or her pursuit of that good photograph and ship it to them afterward in the event that they left an impression on me.

Hehuan Mountain, Nantou
Rift Valley, Central Taiwan
Tiger Mountain, Taipei

Temple and Tradition

Taiwan is without doubt one of the most religiously various nations on this planet. Temples range enormously in type and may be discovered in all places from slim areas between condominium complexes to the top of excessive mountain forest roads. They’re typically neighborhood facilities the place you possibly can refill water bottles, have a relaxation, and generally be supplied a cup of tea.

I take pleasure in chatting to the temple keepers and the older individuals who simply hand around in the compounds. Irrespective of what number of temples you have got visited, every one is exclusive, and I make it some extent to search out that uniqueness after I take my pictures.

Temple ceiling
Dragon on incense urn.
Hand-carved temple roof
Fortunate sticks prophecy
Glass ball fortunes
Temple lobby


There are folklore festivals, agricultural celebrations, avenue parades of the gods, Chinese language New Yr festivities, and extra acquainted western-themed seasonal holidays.

Let me provide you with a taste of what you would possibly expertise: standing in entrance of a wall of 100,000 bottle rockets as they “bang” the dangerous luck from you; watching monks burn a full scale handmade wood boat sitting on a sea of paper cash to ship the evil spirits away; watching believers hurt their very own our bodies whereas being possessed by religious demon catchers who’re searching dangerous spirits.

Think about the colours, shapes, motion, and power you would possibly be capable of seize in your pictures of those wonderful celebrations.

Lighting firecrackers
King Boat Donggang Boat Burning Pageant
Exploding Luck Yenshui Beehive Pageant
Males dancing with gods barefoot handing over circles for blessing
Burning deities
God’s blessing


Whether or not you’re a hiker, diver, waterfall chaser, or excessive sports activities fanatic, Taiwan boasts numerous alternatives to discover. The nation is on the sting of continental tectonic plates evidenced by sheer mountainsides plunging into the ocean. The entire island is thought for its geothermal scorching springs and quite a few earthquakes, particularly on the east coast.

Taiwan is residence to 260 peaks taller than 3000m, and as snow garments these mountains in winter, the soften leads to icy raging rivers with water stuffed with minerals shining blue for that good mid-summer dip. The coastlines are identified for his or her jaw-dropping reefs, wonderful macro life, and sea turtle protected zones. And it’s solely 45 minutes from the town to the water.

Taiwan is greater than a concrete jungle, additionally it is a wild island with 58% coated by wild forest, the proper place for panorama and wildlife pictures, season by season.

Jade mountain summit
Hehuan mountain sundown
Taoshan mountain summit
Aboriginal waterfall
Hualien river system
Taroko Gorge river system


I typically go for a stroll with a espresso and my digital camera in hand. Generally the easiest way to see a spot is at your individual tempo. All of the cities are a maze of alleys that twist and switch, with a mix of Japanese and Taiwanese structure and design.

I’ve found that morning markets are essentially the most light and fascinating round dawn, with the distributors drained by 9am. Evening markets can get crowded within the early night so going late may give you higher alternatives to browse. Usually the most effective plan is to don’t have any plan – simply heading to an space and seeing what presents itself, ensuring you go together with sufficient time to be gradual so you possibly can respect the main points of the life.

Personally, I like waking up at 4am and simply using my scooter in a single route and easily pulling over after I see an fascinating shot. Go gradual and search for the tales.

Public cellphone
Temple window
Safety gate
Morning markets
Trumpet procession

Private Choice

Magnificence is within the eye of the beholder —Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

That being mentioned, beneath are pictures that I maintain expensive to me. These are my private timeless Taiwan experiences that had been foundational to my improvement as a photographer.


Tradition and the Photographer

Taiwan may be very accepting of overseas guests and photographers all in favour of their tradition. Once I encounter an fascinating group of individuals, I merely nod and smile or give a thumbs as much as break the ice, then shoot. I additionally stroll as much as them and present them my display screen and thank them. Many instances, a hard-faced grandpa will crack a smile, or a temple gangster will hand me a beer and invite me to the entrance line of the motion.

My level is, if you happen to method from some extent of appreciation and might learn the temper, in your intestine when you possibly can maintain capturing and when it’s time to step away. As essential it’s for us to get the shot, it’s equally essential to be respectful of the tradition and benefit from the experiences – the stability is each rewarding for us and for the Taiwanese themselves.

Vacation spot

Whether or not Taiwan is your vacation spot or a brief layover, be sure that to offer your self a couple of days to discover. You possibly can journey on a funds or reside a lifetime of luxurious – the selection is yours.

Not solely are the Taiwanese extremely open individuals, however there are additionally many government-supported companies and media platforms full of knowledge. And generally becoming a member of a bunch or simply reaching out to fellow adventurers through social media platforms with a “hello” can assist you make new associates and get you accustomed to a brand new space.

Even after all of the years I’ve lived in Taiwan, I do know there are nonetheless numerous stunning pictures to be found. I deal with what I come throughout, attempting to convey a singular type to my images. Fortune favors the daring and a few of my finest private pictures moments have simply been exploring a left flip the place I often flip proper, with my digital camera at all times prepared.

I hope I’ve impressed you to think about Taiwan as a photograph vacation spot and also you in the future expertise this wonderful island, individuals, and tradition. It really is the hidden gem of Asia and a rustic to be celebrated.

Concerning the writer: Alex Houghton is an Australian photographer who grew up in Asia. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the writer. Yow will discover extra of Houghton’s work on his web site, Fb, and Instagram.

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