Brian Webb's blog PhotoJazz won the popular vote for best photography blog in the 2010 Taiwan Best Blog Awards. In his interview with Taiwanderful Brian talks about how he came to Taiwan and some of his thoughts about photography.
Blogger – Brian Q. Webb
About the blogger – 37 year-old from the Greater Los Angeles area of California, USA who grew up traveling and experiencing different cultures (by the time I turned 15 I had spent some time in Morocco, Sweden, Communist Romania, England, France, and French-Canada). I started my professional life as a software engineer and for the past 10 years have experienced a 'second' professional life as an educator. I've also been married for a decade and have twin, 6 year-old boys. In my free time I love to travel, take street photos, and write. I like street photography because it presents the most unbiased, accurate portrait of a people and culture. The most interesting photos from a century ago aren't portraits or pictures of mountains. They're street photos. The same will be true a century from now.
Years in Taiwan - 12
Years blogging - 8
Blogging platform – WordPress (self-hosted)
Country of Origin - USA
Age – 37
Twitter – @photojazz
Could you please tell us little about your background? What brought you to Taiwan?
I had some friends from Taiwan (including my future wife) who visited LA in 1998 and I showed them around. A couple of months later I visited Taiwan and they reciprocated. While I was visiting I was offered an engineering contract with a local startup and decided to accept. A month later I was living here.
What do you like about living in Taiwan?
I like how there is (relatively) little conflict between ancient and modern cultures. Rather then one 'taking over' the other, they exist and progress side-by-side. I also enjoy how convenient the domestic 'travel infrastructure' is. Finally, as a father, I appreciate the effort put into low-cost but high-quality museums and educational programs for children.
How long have you had a blog and why did you start blogging?
I've had a blog in one form or another for at least 15 years, but concerning Taiwan and photography I've been blogging somewhat consistently for about 8 years. I initially started blogging on those subjects because people kept asking me questions and I felt sharing my experiences in the long form blog format was the best way to answer them.
What are some of the most interesting subjects you have photographed in Taiwan?
Personally, my most interesting travel & photography experiences in Taiwan thus far have been my trip to Lanyu (http://www.photojazz.ws/2009/08/taiwan-aborigine-yami-tao) and going with my mother-in-law to a pet cemetery in Taoyuan (http://www.photojazz.ws/2009/07/visit-to-a-taiwanese-pet-cemetery). From a “general public interest” point-of-view, the vast majority of regular traffic seems to care mostly about Hello Kitty (http://www.photojazz.ws/2009/02/hello-kitty-sweets-restaurant-taipei-in-taipei).
Has your blog helped your promote yourself professionally as a photographer?
Not really. While street photography holds great long-term historical/educational value, it holds very little commercial value. It is one of those things that is more a pursuit of love then financial success. I do make a little money taking portraits on sheet film with an old 4x5 camera, but new clients for that are all delivered via word of mouth.
How do social media like Twitter and Facebook influence your blogging?
Microblogging is a good outlet for conveying basic, simple thoughts or information like where an event is occurring, when it starts, and a moment-by-moment rundown of what is going on. Combined with cameras and video embedded into phones, microblogging also makes a powerful first-person reportage tool. However, it makes a poor means by which to convey complex thoughts, chains of events, or editorialize.
So basically, I use microblogging to update people as to where I am, relay over-simplified experiences, and to link to the more in-depth things in the websphere.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
Write what you really think and feel. Be honest with your thoughts. That's the only thing that will make your blog unique and stick out from the many other blogs with a similar subject out there.
What are some of your favorite Taiwan blogs?
To get an idea of what events are coming up that I can take my kids to or are culturally interesting, I usually hit the government’s cultural portal (English: http://english.doca.taipei.gov.tw/MP_119002.html). I also like A Hungry Girl’s Guide (http://hungryintaipei.blogspot.com/) because, well, I like to eat and cuisine is one of the things Taiwan is known for. Neil Wade’s photography blog (http://taiwan-photography-blog.com/) combines some great eye candy combined with good location articles to make a good guide for traveling the island and is one place I’ll visit when trying to plan a daytrip. There are also a few more personal blogs (such as http://www.thenhbushman.com and http://blog.taiwan-guide.org/) that I don’t visit directly, but get via RSS and read on-the-go because they represent some of the more intelligent editorializing in the local blogsphere.