Q&A: Shing-I Chen, Lifestyle Advocates Taiwan
30 September 2016
Shing-I Chen is one of Taiwan’s first female photographers to pioneer the concept of a live photography shoot back in 2009 featuring a crossover between Art/Photography x Christian Dior. For several years, Shing-I has been featured in Taiwan’s daily newspapers, weekly tabloid and luxury brand events. Her works feature a unique perspective in capturing and directing her subjects into new light, putting high profile elitist, socialites and celebrities into new light in her shoots.
Ahead of this Sunday’s premiere of Lifestyle Advocates Taiwan, we turn the spotlight back on Shing-I for a more personal and detailed insight into the life of a celebrity photographer.
Taiwan is buzzing with a new Taipei energy.
How would you describe a typical day?
I would have set my entire schedule the day before. So, when I open my eyes — before I see Dou Dou, my PA, who’s my everything — I still need to check my list to find out if I have to hit pilates or see my nutritionist first. My breakfast typically varies between yogurt with fruits, home-cooked red and black oats, or barley congee with fruits — depending on the day of the month and how I’m feeling.
I generally don’t check my calendar before going to bed because I’m usually super exhausted after a long day. A typical day for me involves juggling different roles including publicist, PR, running social media, meeting clients, carrying out internal meetings, lunch with the ladies, taking care of mummy’s feelings, pre-production for our current project as well as planning our calendar.
What do you think is the best thing about your current lifestyle?
I have been learning about the local market and how to grow my business for over eight years and looking to train an extraordinary team. I’ve been my own HR and I’ve found the best “Mini Me” who’s able to delegate the details while I focus on spearheading the growth of our company. That’s truly a blessing for me now, which I must share.
See also: 10 luxurious stays in Taipei
If there’s one thing you could change about your current lifestyle, what would it be?
Considering the fact that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in New York City, I am obsessed with food and trying out new creations. Fine dining has become a hobby of mine as with playing a role in expressing my thoughts on female strength, freedom of speech and where my work of art explores the importance of the future generations who need to seek opportunities.
I’m on a strict diet and need to lose about six kilograms. Due to a lifestyle full of social dinners and dinner meetings, where I do enjoy a glass of wine, a lemon drop, or a nice cocktail, saying, “No, thank you” is something I need to work on. I still need to watch my waistline to fit into my brother’s couture dresses.
What was your biggest takeaway from interviewing your guests on Lifestyle Advocates?
As we were working on the pre-production of Lifestyle Advocates that involved coordinating and hand-picking the key Life Inspired fellow connoisseurs and places we would like to showcase, I found the shortlisting process for the episode quite difficult since Taiwan is buzzing with a new Taipei energy.
Many former students are back in town from wherever they went to for college with the reasons of wanting to be close to home as well as finding rare opportunities to grow a business here, which is now becoming a trend in Taipei.
I realise there are so, so many options in regards to my ultimate belief and selling point of what’s so fabulous about the city. More and more high profile personalities would consider moving to this city to share their skills and evolve with us, so our next generation will be able to see a more international market and learn from a more affluent international scene.
When I travel, it is important for me to enjoy the present — to live in the moment rather than snapping away and killing the moment.
Lifestyle-wise, if there’s one thing worth moving to Taipei for, what would it be?
Again, as we were selecting places to share we couldn’t believe the amount of new intricate nouveau new Taipei chic places there are popping up here and there; many of which I was unable to cover in an episode.
All these are nouveau discoveries with many foreigners moving over to recreate Taipei delicacies food, clothing, but mostly little restaurants and a creation of a finer dining experience. In terms of value for money, it’s truly remarkable how much you can experience here.
What were your favorite moments during the filming of Lifestyle Advocates?
We had an awesome team experience and our synergy was incredible. On my day-off, the production crew went on to shoot the B-reel, which meant they were just shooting the street shots, drone shots of Taipei without a host.
As I was working, I noticed the camera crew had tagged me and my entire team on Facebook, saying that we should have been there with them. So, to put it simply, the production crew wanted to share with our team that we were being missed. We thought that was the cutest and most heartwarming thing throughout the experience!
What camera gear do you bring with you bring with you when you travel?
To be honest, with so many iPhones upgrading to so many megapixels and getting lighter with the the number of accessories available, I just bring my cellphone to document inspirations.
When I travel, it is important for me to enjoy the present. I love paying attention and observing and to live in the moment rather than snapping away and killing the moment.
I usually don’t let a camera get in my way of everyone’s daily lives. I love to just live a full life observing without the interruption with my camera. I will, however, write in my notepad, and remember to explore that concert, or that thought into our next project.
Due to a lifestyle full of social dinners, where I do enjoy a glass of wine, saying, ‘No, thank you’ is something I need to work on.
Where can we usually find you on weekends?
You can usually find me near my home in Tien Mou where we have one of the most incredible traditional farmer’s market selling not only fresh but the most outlandish hybrid fruits.
After a long week, I crave for a walk through the market and pick up some ingredients to explore some cooking recipes. I usually try out some traditional dishes while improvising the dressing and cooking methods to create a nutritional yet tasty meal.
What is your favorite staycation spot and why?
I can’t think of any off the top of my head, just because I’m always caught up with work and the next thing. Though I know I must find time to take a break.
Honestly, my brother and I try to take my mother on a short vacation to Hong Kong, Macau, or Japan. Mum lost our dad a year ago. Three times a week she goes through dialysis. She’s basically lost her eyesight and is now on wheelchair. So, on certain breaks we take her to the nearest cities because she still loves shopping!
You have five minutes to get dressed. What you go-to outfit for a spontaneous day out in Taipei?
My brother is popular couture fashion designer for A-list celebrities. When I have nothing to wear, I just slip on one of his easy-to-wear, unwrinkled gowns paired with any of my cool slippers — Giuseppe, Manolos, or something even like a Birkenstock, paired with a panama hat, or a baseball cap — it’s a mix of luxe and casual. Oh, I would then throw on something from All Saints like one of their kimono wraps, which is casual yet chic! It’s so much easier to just throw on a one-piece dress, if you know what I mean!
Catch Shing-I on Life Inspired, this Sunday, 2 October, 10.30pm MY/HK/SIN on Lifestyle Advocates Taiwan.