My First Gallery!

The Guests

This past weekend I had the joy of opening my first gallery here on Okinawa with three other amazing photographers on island.  The opening night was a hit as you can see above and we still have two more weekends to show the images before we sell them off the wall!  I wanted to try to personalize the experience a little and offer a more creative way of judging our numbers at the end of the opening weekend so this is what I came up with.  We took a headshot of everyone who attended (them allowing of course, a few camera shy folks are not shown).  Below I want to showcase a few of my favorites and explain why I was so happy to see them show!

This would not even begin to be possible without Ryan.  He has been an amazing help and was there opening night with me.  Ryan is one of the other photographers in the show and was the first I contacted when I realized the space was large enough to start a collaboration of sorts with local photographers.  From the advertising and selecting the other photographers to last minute setup and hanging the prints Ryan has been there helping me out every step of the way.  Thanks again Ryan for all of the help!  It is an honor to hang my prints with yours.

Another that can not go unthanked is Paul.  Paul owns the space and was the man to present this great opportunity to me.  He was the one who backed the project from day 1 and for that I can not thank him enough!  One day hopefully my business skills can reach his level.  Thanks for letting me snap this, I hear you are not one to like your photo taken.

Jamie I want to thank you so much for making it out.  What you are doing with the Shutterbugs page has helped so many and some of the advice I received through your amazing group has led me to where I am today.  There are few communities so welcoming in the world especially photography ones.  I know we talked about how it can go unappreciated at times but know that everyone I have talked to loves the community you have put together and really respects all the time and effort you put into keeping it amazing.  Thank you for all your hard work, it does not go without notice.

Always nice to see other photographers out supporting the art.  Thanks for coming by Joshua

Broke his axel that morning and still made it out, an amazing friend and a skilled photographer.  Thanks for coming out Fez and for stepping in front of the lens for once!

Man I don't even know where to start.  The gentleman in the back of this hilarious photo has become one of my best friends on this earth, a true brother to me.  We were not so close in high school but our adventures on Okinawa are timeless to say the least.  A big thank you to the whole gang goes out, thanks again for making it down.  Tull is for sure the wife in this photo, just saying.

This group has become something of a second family to me lately, I was not surprised they were there but that is a gift on its own.  To many more cigars and shots, thanks for all the love

Mr. & Mrs. Shoemaker, Bobby and Dillon.

There are plenty more to thank especially from my cop family but I need to wrap this thing up.  A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and will continue to support me.  I hope I can live up to the hype in the future.

Also a huge thank you to my mother, my grandmother, and Tsgt Izaguirre who opted to pre order prints in order to help fund the event!  This would not be possible without your support!

Be sure to join us for the closing weekend at the end of this month in American Village!

Photographing Taipei: Day 2

What you are looking at above is the first 5 minutes of what came to be a very awesome day two in Taipei.  As you can see the weather was still no cooperating but I would not let that stop me and shot out of bed bright and early to hit some temples and markets before heading down to one of the cities biggest icons, Taipei 101.  I stepped out of the hotel and right then started to take the city in on my walk to the Taipei Confucius Temple.

Something a lot of people fail to notice about the entrances and exits to a cities metros is that when looked at more deeply or in the right angles they really start to convey their purpose.  These places serve as gateways to the city for so many people everyday.  I hope this shot can be a reminder to slow down and notice the small things in your own cities once in a while.

When I arrived in the area of the Taipei Confucius Temple I actually mixed temples up and the one you see above is the first I visited, Dalongdong Baoan Temple.  The area had a couple surrounding shrines for various deities and was very well kept. Something also to be noted is that the areas are still very much in use daily by the local populace and some tourists wishing to try the rituals.  Almost all the temples I visited featured amazing detail and color, with lavish interiors.  When considering the age of some of the structures it really is leveling to think about how some things have been kept so nice or were ever constructed in the first place.

The Inside of the main hall at Dalongdong Baoan Temple.

Paper lanterns pictured here at the front of the main hall are also a very common theme in Taipei not just at the temples but also around the city and in the markets.

A somewhat different perspective on some of the details on the temples.

Next up came the Taipei Confucius Temple I had originally traveled to see.  I learned that the shrine was actually for teachers from some locals at the location and although it was not as populated with people it still did not disappoint.  The temple featured a couple structures but really shines at the main hall pictured below.  

If you were not able to catch some of the smaller details in that first photo have a look at a more closer angle with these photos.

After wondering the temples for an hour or two I started to get hungry.  My next stop would be a nearby market that I kept spotting signs for, let me start by saying the street food did not disappoint and the people were very welcoming and kind. Even more so the area provided an amazing opportunity for street photography.  Honestly Taipei has convinced me I need to give street photography a bit more time in my life, I really enjoyed it while in the city.  I must have spent at least an hour walking up and down the street looking at the daily life in the markets.  Trying different foods, talking to various vendors, and shooting some crazy characters I really made an event of it all.  I really hope the photos below can help to convey what it was like walking down the market street that day.

On my travels through the streets I could not help but notice the massive amount of moped and bikes getting the locals around.  It seems to be a rather efficient way to travel in the area.

After finishing up my surprisingly awesome time at the local market I headed over to another popular temple on the north side of town called Hsing Tian Kong.  The temple was extremely popular at least when I showed up and featured a totally different style of doing things than the others.  People would gather and have smoke wafted around them while also praying out to the walls where many sat with books.  It also featured some fairly awesome bright red doors with yellow knobs that still stand out to me.

A shot taken inside near the walls, notice the people far left in the shot standing in the middle praying out in the direction of the walls.

Next on the days agenda came the highlight for most peoples trip, Taipei 101.  When exiting the station under 101 you are greeted with the view below.  The structure is truly a feat of engineering and is staggeringly massive in size, you can even see the clouds dragging off of it in the photo below.  Due to the weather I did not go up the record breaking elevator to the top this day but I can tell you that it is worth the trip and the wait if there is one.  The view from the top is impressive,  The photos I took on day three from the top capture so much that they are uninteresting and come off as snapshots due to the massive amount of city covered in a single shot.  Just because it was a clouded rainy day did not mean that 101 had nothing to offer however, the building still features a 7 story shopping mall and massive food court to boot.  This building goes on my must see list for any travelers reading this for help planning our trip,  rain or shine 101 is a must.

After stuffing myself at the food court I headed over to witness the changing of the guard ceremony at one of the memorial halls.  That event goes on the must see list as well, being a service member I gained a lot of respect for the men standing guard up there.  In the photo you can see the sweat streaming down his face from standing like a statue for over an hour, and the change over was no joke either.

Look at those beads of sweat!  Dedication!

Next up after this I went back to the hotel to charge up my batteries for a night in Shilin Night Market.  The area was three or four times the size of the first market above, had some amazing places to eat (Hot Star Chicken is a must!) and again provided a hot bed for street photography.  I finished my night up at a bar in the city after this and actually made friends with a local waiter named Billy Yin that night before turning in to hit the city hard for one last day.

Lanterns covering the ceiling of a temple in the market. 

That is it for day two please have a wonderful evening and come back very soon for days two and three in Taipei.  Please leave any questions in the comments or contact me directly.  If you liked the photos or the story please share them on your favorite sites or with your friends!

See an image you love? Want it on the wall?  Contact me now for prints!

Photographing Taipei: Day 1

My Journey into Taiwan from the lovely Ryukyu started with a lesson.  When dealing with budget airlines don't be even a minute late.  I strolled into the airport ready to roll and start my 3 day adventure into Taipei.  However when going to check in for my flight I discovered the counters had been closed and no deals would be made to get me on the flight!  Being just 1 minute late I was a little heated and this is actually one of the few times I have missed a flight. After a moment or two and so many close calls I took it as a hard travel lesson and moved on though.  It is important not to let the hiccups spoil the whole trip, after all we go on vacations to enjoy our selves not to be stressed.

After arriving into Taiwan I was instantly surprised to find another hiccup.  I was an hour outside the city and had landed in a different airport due to the flight change!  Luckily with Taiwan being a wonderful destination that seems to strive on a bit of tourism I was soon able to find that a bus into Taipei that would cost me next to nothing!  As a nice plus I was able to meet some cool folks on the bus before continuing on to my hostel in the middle of the city for check in.  If you don't mind I have to name drop them because I actually lost a couple hours sitting in the lobby chatting up the awesome hosts Kevin and Kimber for stories and information.  If you find yourself in need of a clean and cheap place to stay that has good security feel free to find your way over to the Packer's Hostel, I will provide their website at the bottom of this post!

After talking my hosts up a bit I headed to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.  By now it was dark and unfortunately the weather was not in my favor either but that did not stop me from going out to see the city.  One of the first things I noticed on my walk over was that some of the roundabouts in Taipei have this temples setup in the middle that when combined with the traffic like you see above make for an awesome shot.  I also noticed upon arrival at the memorial that the monuments in this city are massive.  The area called Liberty Square has the massive archway that acts as an entry to the couple hundred meter long space featuring the Concert Hall, Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial, and the Theatre.  The area was well used by the local populace for dancing and as a general hangout for younger people when I stopped by.

One of the Entrances to the square, notice how small the people are in comparison at the base of the structure. 

The National Theatre sits to the left of the Arch and features immense details.

Sitting directly across from the Theatre is the Concert Hall.

Right in line with the Arch and at the end of a long plaza stands the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in all its glory.

After strolling the grounds of the square for some time and battling the rain I decided it was time to depart and head for Ximending, a more hip and younger part of the city featuring an almost Shibuya feel with lots of shops and places to eat.  When I arrived in the area it immediately stood out.  The buildings were plastered with adds, there was a massive amount of lighting and young 20 somethings ran from store to store cramming in the last minutes of shopping for the night. This was very different from the city I had just walked through to get here, no empty streets or dark alleys with beef noodle shops like you see below.

No more of the above, Ximending had tons of shops to see, large department stores and plenty to eat.  It was here I saw my first 4 story KFC and a really crazy place called the Modern Toilet, a restaurant where everything is of the bathroom variety down to even the smallest details.  If you go to Taipei you must stop in and have a meal there.  Ximending ended up not really being my style but still had its own flare and was a joy to photograph.  I called it a night after the photos below and hit the hay early to wake up early for day two.


Click here for day two

That wraps up day one of my travels, come back very soon for days two and three in Taipei.  Please leave any questions in the comments or contact me directly.  Have a great rest of your day!

See an image you love? Want it on the wall?  Contact me now for prints!

Give the folks over at The Packer's Hostel a look if looking for a place to stay in Taipei!