I first heard about the Pujie Girls and planking while watching a local Taiwanese talk show that featured ongoing fads. Karren and Jinyu were on the show demonstrating to local university students how planking can be both fun and done safely.
I loved the photos and the idea of planking seemed very visually interesting to me; I had to find out more about it. After a bit of research online, I found that there was a whole community of underground plankers who posted their escapades via various social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The world turned off its lights on March 26 for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change.
I was given the assignment to not only photograph the event from Taipei, Taiwan, but to produce a multimedia video that showcased the world’s landmarks without lights as part of the fifth annual Earth Hour.
After watching Natalie Portman’s Oscar winning performance in Black Swan which she portrays a perfectionist ballerina who ultimately breaks down, I was intrigued by the life of ballet dancers. They endure hours of toe curling training just to perfect their art.
My chance to meet real life professional ballerinas came when performers from the State Ballet of Georgia performed Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial in Taipei. I was granted behind the scenes access to the famed ballet piece which was also the core theme of the movie. I felt like my sense of curiosity for ballet would be duly curbed.
When China-friendly Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and his party took power in 2008, the main story for the island was how it’s historic and sometimes hostile ties would with improve the advent of this new leader.
It’s been almost 4 years since I first transferred to Taiwan from Singapore as a staff photographer covering various cross strait events and I realised that I had amassed a hefty collection of photos over the years to tell this story.
The problem with covering military events in Taiwan is that they are conducted in a controlled environment where almost everything is staged for the media. However, sometimes I would like to see the true grit of army life and the side that is rarely seen in public. Being conscripted to the military myself in Singapore, I have witnessed how tough training can be in the army.
My quest to illustrate this in Taiwan was fulfilled when I negotiated exclusive access to cover the final stage of a nine-week intensive Amphibious Training Program for Taiwan Marine Corps titled “Road to Heaven”.
While shooting this feature on prisoners trying to reform themselves through the art of traditional drumming, I was reminded of a question once posed to me by a lecturer when I was 18. Are all men inherently evil or is it society that makes them so?
When I first met the inmates at the Changhua Prison to work on this feature, I was surprised to find the drum trainees, whose ages ranged from 18-25, well-mannered and soft spoken. Far from the dangerous criminals that I had etched in my mind. Rather, they were just men who were no different than I was. I felt guilty for having such exaggerated thoughts in the first place.
When I first arrived in Taiwan I made a checklist of odd things to cover. I shot numerous mass weddings, fights in the parliament and the enchanting sky lantern festival.
Being a wire photographer, we often document things that are happening before our eyes. Sometimes these events happen so fast and we miss that one great picture or sometimes it may take 12 hours of waiting outside a courthouse to get that bread and butter shot to whet the appetite of newspaper clients.
The truth is that when wire photographers go out to shoot, we rarely have control over what happens during our assignments. We definitely cannot meddle with or control our subjects for the frame because that violates journalistic integrity.
Legislators throwing objects, splashing water and kicking one another inside the parliament is probably one of the most interesting yet bizarre news events I’ve covered during my stint in Taiwan. Seeing grown men in suits going at each other like children, yelling and even laughing as if it was all sport, is not something you would expect to see every day.
In fact, everybody in the Taiwan media knew that the opposition DPP were going to clash with the ruling KMT party lawmakers. It was just a matter of how and when. A fellow local photographer told me that the fighting between the parties only happens when lawmakers need to send a message to the public through the media. You could even say that lawmakers act out violence to get some publicity from the media, though some of them really do get hurt in the process.
Nicky Loh presents a series of time-lapse sequences of a solar power plant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.