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Photographer | Tzeng Chin-fa

  • Date:2021-09-30
Photographer | Tzeng Chin-fa

Chinese Name: 曾進發

Date of Birth: September 21, 1962

Place of Birth: Miaoli, Taiwan

Did You Know:

Poetry and photography have been companions for Tzeng Chin-fa for over half a century, keeping him company in lonely times and helping him find joy in life. When he was young, he sacrificed his literary aspirations to make a living in business, once again putting pen to paper at the age of 50. To find the right photos to go with his poems, he found a teacher to instruct him in photography, never expecting to become a regular winner of international photography competitions. His keen eye for nature and society, his heartfelt recording of the everyday through his lens, and his natural style of photography have become known as “natural flow.”

Born in a poor rural area near the seashore in Miaoli County's Zhunan Township, Tzeng Chin-fa grew up with a love of writing and a talent for literature, and for poetry in particular. He studied Chinese literature at National Central University and was the president of the school's Poetry Club. While there, he won first prize in the Modern Poetry Category of the school’s Golden Pen Awards and was hailed by his predecessors as a promising new star in the literary firmament.

However, to get out of poverty, he left behind the world of writing and entered the world of business, embarking on what he has described as a "journey out of poverty" between the ages of 26 and 50. He worked as the creative director of an advertising agency and a public opinion representative, and now he is the academic advisor for the Photographic Society of Taipei and president of the club Scenic Outdoor Shoots.

However, his dream of creating literature lingered. It was not until starting his second half-century that he decided to revive his passion and embark on a new "journey into creativity." Fueled by a love of travel, he has traveled extensively through the beautiful landscapes of Taiwan and further afield, including China, Japan, Australia, Indochina, and Southeast Asia, using his poetry to convey what he has seen and heard.

At that time, the social networking platform Facebook was booming around the world, so he started posting his new poems, but he always had a hard time trying to match photos to the poems. To fix this, he began learning from a professional photography teacher so he could take his own, marking his entrance into the world of photography.

These efforts bore unexpected fruit, however, as his photography began to earn praises even more than his poetry by those online. His works have won numerous awards, and so far, he has pocketed 142 international medals, including 11 gold, 16 silver, and 13 bronze at MIFA Moscow; 1 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze at IPA International; 3 gold, 8 silver, and 16 bronze at PX3 France; 5 gold, 3 silver, and 12 bronze at TIFA Tokyo; and 2 gold, 10 silver, and 10 bronze at BIFA Budapest.

Some of his most iconic works are "The Most Valiant Mark Under the Mask," "Eight Generals Sitting on the Cannon," "Dancing in the Water," "In the Name of Mt. Fuji," "The Galactic Four of Hehuanshan," "Memoirs of a Miner," and "The Tree of Life."

Tzeng Chin-fa's photography is inspired by life and by reading. Being moved by nature and even society and practicing the techniques, composition, and locations taught in photography books have inspired him and sparked ever more passion to create new images.

His creative philosophy is "my hand writes my soul, my soul takes my pictures." He also elaborates on his view of photography by saying "the image is born from the soul." He believes that poetry and photography, like other artistic endeavors, are not about strict reproduction of reality, but rather the interpretation of it. Each creator interprets what their eye sees filtered through the different qualities of their soul. The creation of symbols that resonate with human beings is the core of what we call art, and since each individual is unique, each artwork is an extremely personal expression. Chiang Che-ho, honorary director of the Photographic Society of Taipei, once analyzed Tzeng's photographic works and described his style as having "natural flow."

Tzeng has published two photography collections so far, including "Photography, Poetry: Poetic Feelings and Photographic Meaning (Even at 50 You Can Chase Your Dreams!)" in 2016 and "Photography, Poetry II: The Image is Born from the Soul" in 2021.

While Tzeng has snapped up no small number of awards and won plenty of glory for Taiwan in recent years, he has also inspired many to start getting involved in domestic photography competitions. In sharing his own experience, Tzeng notes that originality is essential, and he would like to see more like-minded people taking part in international photography competitions, so that the world can see through the eyes of Taiwan's cultural and creative arts.

(Photo courtesy of Tzeng Chin-fa)