left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Musician focuses on his second act

Updated: 2013-05-27 16:13
By Chen Nan ( China Daily)

Musician focuses on his second act

Tien Ting-feng says the ups and downs of his life have allowed him to find a second life with photography. Zou Hong / China Daily

Dark clouds cover half the sky above Longpan Park, in Kenting, a popular tourist destination in southern Taiwan. Tourists stand on the hill enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Photographer Tien Ting-feng waited for hours to capture this scene.

"You see pure blue sky this minute and dark clouds that minute. The change of nature is unpredictable," says Tien, 45. "The beautiful scene only can be captured with patience."

The photo is one of 101 pictures published in the book A Beautiful Land.

Each picture is accompanied by a poem Tien wrote especially for the picture. He says the photo in Taiwan is one of his favorites.

"It is just like my life," he says.

When he was 26, Tien founded Seed Music, which became one of the biggest Taiwan music labels, home to best-selling singers, including Jeff Chang.

He was at the peak of his career when the music industry's decline led to investment failure and he lost almost all his money.

In 2000, his darkest days, he moved to Beijing to look for new opportunities. Two years later he returned to Taiwan to restart Seed Music, which now has nearly 30 Taiwan pop stars on its books.

"The ups and downs of my life taught me to be patient and tolerant, which allowed me to find my second life with photography," he says.

He started as an enthusiast, buying a single-lens reflex camera and learning basic techniques from singer-songwriter Penny Tai, who is a big photography fan.

Tien then traveled around Taiwan with his camera.

"I just randomly took pictures and I realized my hometown is so beautiful and I knew nothing about it," Tien says.

When he traveled to Meinung Folk Village, Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, he met an elderly woman who paints oil paper umbrellas, a traditional heritage of local Hakka people.

The woman, 73, told Tien that oil paper umbrellas are important for Hakka people. In addition to providing shelter from sun and rain, they are also a symbol of good fortune. Though she started learning to paint at 60, she is dedicated to preserving the culture of her hometown.

"I was so moved by her. I told myself it's never too late to learn, which made me determined to study photography and portray my beautiful hometown," says Tien. As he traveled around Taiwan, Tien soon found his own vision.

When he put some of those pictures on his facebook page together with his poems, the number of fans who followed him rose from less than 100 to 5,000 in a month.

Publishing companies in Taiwan soon came to him and wanted to publish his photography book. Accompanied by exhibitions across Taiwan, his book became a best-seller in Taiwan in November 2012.

Tien says he is proud of the book because it came from his heart, and not from a commercial ambition.

Alongside photos of Taiwan scenery, he photographs the singers signed to Seed Music. Tien didn't capture their faces, but used their figures captured in shadow.

"I don't want to use the celebrities as a selling point. I just see them as my models. They felt the place like I did, instead of posing for magazines," he says.

Tien has now left Seed Music because he no longer wants to be involved in music management.

He founded an art company in March to promote local artists. He also wants to take more pictures in other cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai.

"Beijing is a very special place for me because I spent my darkest days there. I want to capture scenery there as well as reflecting on my memories," he says.

Musician focuses on his second act

Musician focuses on his second act

New art space breathes life into upscale mall

The eternal flow of art