Travel Time to Taipei
For a majority of my life, the farthest I had traveled from Southern California was Arizona (I know, I know). I never was terribly interested in international travel in my younger years, and it wasn’t until I met a German exchange student in photo school that I was ever really encouraged to open up my world to see new places.
Well, I’m happy to report that has changed!
The Nankang Towers in Taipei, Taiwan was my first shoot in Asia. Built over the span of several years, this 4 building compound includes the initial two 16-story structures containing 128 units completed in 2012, and the additional two structures completed in 2018. These towers are an award-winning design from Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, or EYRC. I’m excited to share insights about these buildings and about Lawrence Anderson abroad!
A Series Of Unfortunate Events
As a first timer shooting in Taiwan, I felt a bit like the universe was hazing me. For the play-by-play version you can revisit both of my 2012 blog posts, but here’s the hectic highlights: I traveled with 3 fractured ribs and a sinus infection, waited through 8 days of straight rain to shoot, had an allergic reaction that closed up one eye entirely, and found out over skype that my wife and I were going to be parents. Did I mention that this trip was my first time shooting in Asia with limited traveling experience?
Here’s the cool thing about photography, though: you can’t see any of that in the shots of these buildings. I love that photography captures what you want to share about any space or time (and leaves out what you don’t!) So even with a few personal road bumps, my first shoot in Asia was certainly successful and memorable.
As a life-long SoCal resident and Los Angeles based architectural photographer, it’s always a little fun to hear structures described as Southern California-inspired in other parts of the world. The award winning design from EYRC is exactly that (Don’t believe me? Let Builder Online tell you all about it!) which made these towers a lot of fun to shoot. As a contrast to more traditional urban structures, the design featured communal garden space, a lap pool, putting green, and a rooftop running track.
The geometry and color-blocking of the red circular running track and long rectangular blue swimming pool really just begged to be highlighted. Elements like these are such a treat to photograph with a dense city background – it’s almost like a visual secret that I get to share.
The term guanxi, or business friendships, is a major part of building trusted working relationships in Asia. When compared to the western concept of networking, guanxi is significantly more meaningful and commitment based. This level of relationship building also ties into gift giving, which is a customary practice when meeting potential business partners for the first time.
I loved learning about this while in Taiwan, because my working relationship with Steven Ehrlich began after I gifted him a photo of a residential project I shot on the Venice canals. I didn’t know it then, but that project and that gift became the basis for this trip to Taiwan – and my first practice participating in a (certainly more Americanized) guanxi of sorts.
Eat, Sleep, and Breathe Photography
Some might call me determined. Some might call me obsessed? I call myself prepared – and let me tell you how that helped in Taiwan.
Because a day on location can often be 12 hours with long stretches of waiting for the right light or cloud coverage (see above, 8 straight days of rain!), I’ve gained the wisdom of seeking a hotel option that is as close as possible to my location. In the case of the Nankang towers, I was lucky enough to stay DIRECTLY across the street! While that certainly saved me any commute time at all, it also served as a very serendipitous bonus choice: I ended up shooting some of my favorite shots from the roof of that building on my “test run” day.
I don’t normally schedule in a ‘shoot from the hip’ sort of day, but since I had to account for rain I did have some extra time in Taipei. Before my official shoot day, I decided to play a bit with my camera without an assistant or my client present. As part of my experimental shoot day, I climbed up on the roof of my hotel at twilight and captured a beautiful night scene.
Even though I had a drone operator scheduled for my ‘official’ shoot day, that option quickly was shut down after a resident complained about the drone’s presence. Without a drone I would have been really stuck for aerial shots – except for my beautiful experimental hotel roof shots from the evening before!
And that is why staying close your location is helpful 🙂