New Southbound Policy Portal
Photographer Craig Ferguson waits many hours to line up the perfect shot such as this one of taxis filling the streets of Taipei City. (Photos courtesy of Craig Ferguson)
As a country filled with breathtaking natural and cultural landscapes, Taiwan is an attractive destination for photographers from home and abroad seeking the perfect shot.
One such photographer is Australian Craig Ferguson, who first visited Taipei City in early 2003 after several years living elsewhere in Asia. Having spent time in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, Ferguson is certainly no stranger to the continent, but Taiwan’s mix of tradition and modernity finally convinced him to settle down. The relocation coincided with big changes in his life: marriage and the establishment of his own studio in Taipei.
Ferguson’s work has been published by the likes of Lonely Planet, Monocle, National Geographic Traveler, Reader’s Digest and The Wall Street Journal. “I’ve been interested in photography since I was very young, always taking it seriously,” Ferguson said. “And my career has just developed little by little from there.”
The bulk of his work is destined for Getty Images Inc., a U.S.-based stock photo agency. Image contracts state that a photographer is only paid when a photograph has been sold to one of the agency’s clients, for example a newspaper or advertiser. Having added thousands of photographs to Getty’s inventory, Ferguson now earns a steady income from the company.
Some shots require the perfect time of day and weather conditions, such as this photo titled “Girl in Temple” from a rainy day in Taipei.
“Although stock photo agency payments are modest, lots of Getty’s clients are famous publications like Time or the BBC,” Ferguson said. “Getting your work in such big names gives you extra credibility in the eyes of other customers, who may offer more money.”
Ferguson’s photography has often focused on cultural events such as the Taiwan Lantern Festival and Lunar New Year celebrations, but recent times have seen more portraiture work. In October 2016, he was assigned by The Wall Street Journal to photograph President Tsai Ing-wen. The same publication hired him in 2014 to take pictures for an article about Chen Lanshu, who had recently been named Asia’s top female chef. Her restaurant in central Taiwan’s Taichung City, Le Mout, is often listed among the continent’s top 50.
President Tsai Ing-wen is all smiles in this shot taken by Ferguson on assignment from The Wall Street Journal in 2016 at the Presidential Office in Taipei.
“I went to Chen’s restaurant, had a 12-course lunch and also took photos of her in her apartment,” Ferguson said. “I remember it very well, not just because I had to take all these shots in a busy kitchen, but also because I had a broken wrist and my arm was still in a cast and sling.”
Chen Lanshu, chef proprietor of Le Mout in central Taiwan’s Taichung City, is among the famous faces captured by Ferguson.
Photography can be a demanding profession, but according to Ferguson shooting in Taiwan is made easier by the welcoming nature of local people. He cautions would-be photographers, however, that they should always identify themselves when they are working in public. “If you’re open about what you’re doing, the vast majority will be supportive,” he said. (RAY-E) (By Jens Kastner)