Profiling the Unseen – Taipei Edition – IV

It is easy to forget what we have and take things for granted.

I started this project on a whim, based on a desire to “do something”. However, as I’m meeting more people, I am overcome by a tumult of so many emotions – an overwhelming realization of how much God has given me, a sense of wonder at the greatness of human spirit, and a new found appreciation for how there is so much to everyone around us.

Take Alex and her daughter Joy for example.

10. Meet Alex, a home maker and her daughter Joy, who works at a popular cafe in Taipei

I met Joy at a cafe I frequent everyday while at work here in Taipei. In traditional Taiwanese kindness, Joy and her mother offered to take me around Taipei as my departure date came closer. As we went around the National Palace Museum, I learnt how Alex is a homemaker, even though she does want to have a job. She recently modeled for students of a painting class. She used to work as a nanny but then the owner left for Shanghai.  It is hard for the older generation to get jobs in this economy. Joy hopes to study in Germany one day. She wants to live and travel abroad, and Germany offers free education which makes it an attractive destination for her. Joy works multiple jobs to save money – at the cafe and teaching students.

I met Joy at a cafe I frequent everyday while at work here in Taipei. In traditional Taiwanese kindness, Joy and her mother offered to take me around Taipei as my departure date came closer.
As we went around the National Palace Museum, I learnt how Alex is a homemaker, even though she does want to have a job. She recently modeled for students of a painting class. She used to work as a nanny but then the owner left for Shanghai.
It is hard for the older generation to get jobs in this economy.
Joy hopes to study in Germany one day. She wants to live and travel abroad, and Germany offers free education which makes it an attractive destination for her. Joy works multiple jobs to save money – at the cafe and teaching students.

 

Despite their seeming hardships, Alex and Joy are some of the happiest people I have met. They share a deep bond with eachother, and generally have a happy outlook towards life. As I went around the museum with them, I could not help but feel that no matter what the issues I had at work, I was still very very privileged and I should be thankful about what God had given me every single day. I called my mom as she was the only perhaps who could understand what I was  feeling.

Despite their seeming hardships, Alex and Joy are some of the happiest people I have met. They share a deep bond with eachother, and generally have a happy outlook towards life.
As I went around the museum with them, I could not help but feel that no matter how I felt about my life, I was still very very privileged and I should be thankful about what God had given me every single day.
I called my mom as she was the only perhaps who could understand what I was feeling.

11. Meet Almond, who works as a hairdresser in Taipei

Almond has been working as a hairdresser for a little over 10 years. She got into this occupation as way to change looks for herself and for her friends. She ended up liking the job so much that she has lasted for so long in her very first job.

Almond has been working as a hairdresser for a little over 10 years. She got into this occupation as way to change looks for herself and for her friends. She ended up liking the job so much that she has lasted for so long in her very first job.

She loves her job because customers feel happy when she gives them a new look that they like. The ride hasn’t always been smooth though – like right in the beginning when she accidentally nipped one of her customer’s ears a bit!

She loves her job because customers feel happy when she gives them a new look that they like. The ride hasn’t always been smooth though – like right in the beginning when she accidentally nipped one of her customer’s ears a bit!

For now, Almond likes where she works and would like to stay. But she does dream of opening her own hair salon one day. If she does, it will be “chic, trendy and very upscale” she says.

For now, Almond likes where she works and would like to stay. But she does dream of opening her own hair salon one day. If she does, it will be “chic, trendy and very upscale” she says.

12. Meet Romanca, who sells a unique Taiwanese dish made of rice and pig blood

Romanca started selling this unique Taiwanese dish in the famous Taipei Night Market just a week back. Before this, she was working as a teacher. However, she switched to this to be able to spend more time with her children and have greater flexibility with time. She buys pig blood from slaughterhouses. It seems it is very good for health. She has been coming to Night Market every day.

Romanca started selling this unique Taiwanese dish in the famous Taipei Night Market just a week back. Before this, she was working as a teacher. However, she switched to this to be able to spend more time with her children and have greater flexibility with time.
She buys pig blood from slaughterhouses. It seems it is very good for health. She has been coming to Night Market every day.

Her dream job is to become an actor. Any kind of actor would do – but she would love to get the chance to play different characters.   Somehow she never got the chance to try her hand at acting. Now she thinks she is too old for anyone to be interested. Unspoken, unrealized dreams.

Her dream job is to become an actor. Any kind of actor would do – but she would love to get the chance to play different characters.
Somehow she never got the chance to try her hand at acting. Now she thinks she is too old for anyone to be interested.
Unspoken, unrealized dreams.

 

 

Profiling the Unseen – Taipei Edition – II

Posting part II in my series on Profiling the Unseen.

This is turning out to be a very interesting project! I’m meeting new people, and it’s such a pleasure hearing their stories and aspirations.

I’m also amazed at how it seems as if everyone I talk to has an Email ID! The cab drivers, waitresses, shopkeepers, everyone has an email ID 🙂 Coming from India, this is a very pleasant surprise…I wonder how long it will take before technology becomes this ubiquitous in India too.

Anyway, so here goes three more people I’ve met:

4. Meet Elena – She works at a juice bar close to where I stay in Taipei

Elena is just 18 years old. She's studying hotel management and she works at the juice bar part time. She has two older sisters and one younger brother. She is yet to figure out what she wants to do in life.

Elena is just 18 years old. She’s studying hotel management and she works at the juice bar part time. She has two older sisters and one younger brother. She is yet to figure out what she wants to do in life.

 

One thing Elena is sure of is that she loves English. And she has taught herself English by watching movies! This seems to be another common thing in Taiwan - everyone wants to learn English, but since it isn't taught in schools, they learn on their own by watching movies. Truly amazing!  Her favorite movie is Fast and Furious because she loves sports cars. Her favorite sports car is Lamborghini! :) I'm amazed at how much she knows!!

One thing Elena is sure of is that she loves English. And she has taught herself English by watching movies! This seems to be another common thing in Taiwan – everyone wants to learn English, but since it isn’t taught in schools, they learn on their own by watching movies. Truly amazing!
Her favorite movie is Fast and Furious because she loves sports cars. Her favorite sports car is Lamborghini! 🙂
I’m amazed at how much she knows!!

 

5. Meet Sharon – she works at a Sushi place in Taipei

Sharon does a bunch of things at the sushi place - taking orders, payments, coordinating the staff. She worked at another restaurant before this but changed jobs because the earlier place had too many rules.

Sharon does a bunch of things at the sushi place – taking orders, payments, coordinating the staff. She worked at another restaurant before this but changed jobs because the earlier place had too many rules.

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon works from 10am-10pm! But she loves her job because she gets to interact with lots of people. This is another unique thing about Taipei - so many people I meet want to meet new people and experience new cultures. I wonder why that is the case?

Sharon works from 10am-10pm! But she loves her job because she gets to interact with lots of people. This is another unique thing about Taipei – so many people I meet want to meet new people and experience new cultures. I wonder why that is the case?

 

 

 

 

 

OMG, Sharon is so shy to get photographed!! :) She cannot stop smiling and blushing as I point my camera towards her :D And she becomes a local hero for a short while as other look on and smile at her getting photographed!

OMG, Sharon is so shy to get photographed!! 🙂 She cannot stop smiling and blushing as I point my camera towards her 😀 And she becomes a local hero for a short while as other look on and smile at her getting photographed!

Sharon wants to open her own breakfast restaurant one day. It would open from 8:00am - 2:00pm, and serve coffee and sandwiches. Maybe some other things too.  I hope she realizes her dream!

Sharon wants to open her own breakfast restaurant one day. It would open from 8:00am – 2:00pm, and serve coffee and sandwiches. Maybe some other things too. I hope she realizes her dream!

6. Meet Mr. Li (Aung-Nyung) – he drives a cab in Taipei

Mr. Li is from Myanmar. He moved to Taipei with his family 20 years ago because of the political conditions there. Now he's one of the few international cab drivers in Taipei, that too one who can speak English.

Mr. Li is from Myanmar. He moved to Taipei with his family 20 years ago because of the political conditions there. Now he’s one of the few international cab drivers in Taipei, that too one who can speak English.

Mr. Li has three children and he's very proud of them :) His son loves smartphones. One of his daughters is a purchaser for shoes. The other daughter is exploring lots of different things to figure out what she wants to do in life. I'm glad he's supportive of her trying to find her passion :)

Mr. Li has three children and he’s very proud of them 🙂 His son loves smartphones. One of his daughters is a purchaser for shoes. The other daughter is exploring lots of different things to figure out what she wants to do in life. I’m glad he’s supportive of her trying to find her passion .

Mr. Li misses his country. he has two homes back in Myanmar, his cousins live there now. I hope he's able to go back some day....

Mr. Li misses his country. He has two homes back in Myanmar, his cousins live there now. I hope he’s able to go back some day….

Photographing couples

It is a challenge to shoot couples! You have to not only get the pair comfortable, but also have a bag of creative poses in mind for the couple to try out. Sharing photographs of a lovely couple I recently photographed in Philadelphia.

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5 things to remember when shooting portraits

As I take more portraits, there are number of things that are standing out as important for a good portrait shot:

1. Model has to wear something that stands out – wearing bright colors helps. A different type of attire (eg: saree or pretty jewellery) can also add that zing to an otherwise bland shot.

2. Model has to feel comfortable to give natural poses – I almost think it helps a lot if you have another person with you whose sole job is to engage the model and put him/her at ease. Posed shots rarely look good, unless you’re shooting a professional model. Going for a short coffee before the shoot to put him/her at ease with you is a great idea.

3. Shoot early in the morning or at sunset – The light is beautiful and gentle at this time and adds a lot to the overall shot. 10am onwards, it starts getting harsh, more overhead, and creates unnecessary shadows.

4. Have a theme in mind for each photo – each photograph should tell a story. Having some pre-decided themes before the shoot goes a long way in getting interesting frames during the shoot. It’s great if you can keep these themes in sync with the model’s personality. Think lots of flower shots for someone very feminine, and a more edgy shoot for someone more tomboyish.

5. Try a lot of different angles – I usually go through a number of samples online before a shoot to get new ideas. There are so many angles from where you can shoot a person – up, down, sideways, front, close-up, far off, etc etc etc. Try all of them!

Here are the photographs of my friend Nidhi Srivastava, whom I photographed just a few days back:

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Outdoor photoshoot in Philly – II

Spring is officially here and it only makes sense to take full advantage of the lovely mornings! 🙂 This was my second photoshoot in Philly, and I’m slowly beginning to see things that can help in taking good portraits. The biggest challenge is always how to get the subect comfortable in front of the camera. I love capturing candid moments and getting your ‘model’ to open up and feel free remains the single biggest factor that determines the goodness of a photograph.

Following are the photographs of a good friend, Christine Fok:

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