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Taiwan: A Photographer’s Paradise? | PetaPixel

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

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

I’m an avid Fuji person — 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 in addition love utilizing the 100-400mm and 56mm. I additionally discover the Fuji X collection may be very compact and socially acceptable on a shoot – large DSLRs typically evoke a unfavourable response from the topic resulting from their measurement and lack of subtlety, and the magic photographic second will be misplaced.

Taiwan is a Photographers Vacation spot!

One of many causes I really like photographing Taiwan is that every thing that catches my eye has a narrative and a cultural depth – there are such a lot of pictures simply hiding in plain sight. Positive, there are numerous IG spots and all that, however when you vibe together with your atmosphere, 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 basic appreciation for images on this nation.

I actually get pleasure from interacting with native photographers and chatting about areas and photographs. Persons are very respectful and curious, and normally, after they really feel my ardour for images, there’s an alternate of recommendation. I additionally make a observe of taking {a photograph} of the folks I meet in order to doc the journey of a photographer in his or her pursuit of that excellent picture 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 international locations on the planet. Temples fluctuate enormously in fashion and will be discovered in every single place from slender areas between residence complexes to the tip 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 get pleasure from chatting to the temple keepers and the older individuals who simply hand around in the compounds. Regardless of what number of temples you’ve gotten visited, each is exclusive, and I make it some extent to seek out that uniqueness once I take my photographs.

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 12 months festivities, and extra acquainted western-themed seasonal holidays.

Let me offer you a taste of what you may 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 picket 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 vitality you may be capable of seize in your pictures of those wonderful celebrations.

Lighting firecrackers
King Boat Donggang Boat Burning Competition
Exploding Luck Yenshui Beehive Competition
Males dancing with gods barefoot delivering 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 dwelling 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 excellent mid-summer dip. The coastlines are recognized for his or her jaw-dropping reefs, wonderful macro life, and sea turtle protected zones. And it’s solely 45 minutes from town to the water.

Taiwan is greater than a concrete jungle, it’s also a wild island with 58% lined by wild forest, the proper place for panorama and wildlife images, 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 one of the simplest ways to see a spot is at your personal tempo. All of the cities are a maze of alleys that twist and switch, with a combination 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. Night time markets can get crowded within the early night so going late can provide you higher alternatives to browse. Typically the most effective plan is to don’t have any plan – simply heading to an space and seeing what presents itself, ensuring you go along with sufficient time to be gradual so you possibly can respect the main points of the life.

Personally, I really like waking up at 4am and simply using my scooter in a single path and easily pulling over once 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 growth as a photographer.


Tradition and the Photographer

Taiwan may be very accepting of overseas guests and photographers concerned with 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 and thank them. Many occasions, 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, when you method from some extent of appreciation and may learn the temper, you recognize in your intestine when you possibly can hold capturing and when it’s time to step away. As necessary it’s for us to get the shot, it’s equally necessary to be respectful of the tradition and benefit from the experiences – the steadiness is each rewarding for us and for the Taiwanese themselves.

Vacation spot

Whether or not Taiwan is your vacation spot or a brief layover, ensure that to offer your self just a few days to discover. You’ll be able to journey on a funds or dwell a lifetime of luxurious – the selection is yours.

Not solely are the Taiwanese extremely open folks, however there are additionally many government-supported providers and media platforms full of knowledge. And generally becoming a member of a gaggle or simply reaching out to fellow adventurers by way of social media platforms with a “hello” may help you make new mates and get you aware of 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 give attention to what I come throughout, attempting to deliver a novel fashion to my pictures. Fortune favors the daring and a few of my greatest private images moments have simply been exploring a left flip the place I normally flip proper, with my digital camera all the time prepared.

I hope I’ve impressed you to contemplate Taiwan as a photograph vacation spot and also you at some point expertise this wonderful island, folks, and tradition. It actually is the hidden gem of Asia and a rustic to be celebrated.

Concerning the creator: Alex Houghton is an Australian photographer who grew up in Asia. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. You will discover extra of Houghton’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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