Revealing Stories from the Lens of Photographer Lu Yu-jui／高雄在地影像紀錄工作者的奇幻旅程 為港都譜寫另一部海上情書
Revealing Stories from the Lens of Photographer Lu Yu-jui
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos courtesy of Lu Yu-jui
Back in 2010, Mr. Lu Yu-jui's photography work "About Waving Good-bye─Three Years of Navigation" won top prize at the Kaohsiung Awards, a major annual arts competition hosted by Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art. Then, on the first day of 2015, he boarded a pelagic squid fishing vessel setting out from Kaohsiung's Cianjhen Fishing Port to film a documentary about Yiyung, a young member of the Amis indigenous tribe working on the boat, as it headed to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. This journey later inspired Mr. Lu to produce a series of works.
Mr. Lu has been keenly interested in painting since childhood. For a long time, he did not embrace photography, despite his family running a photo studio. This perspective changed after he studied and worked in Taipei. During that period, there was a surge of interest in images of ordinary life. Mr. Lu then realized that photography is a way to present society, history and culture. This discovery drove him to study in the Graduate Institute of Studies in Documentary & Film Archiving at Tainan National University of the Arts. Ever since, Mr. Lu has endeavored to portray society through photographs.
Mr. Lu admits to preferring photography to filming documentaries. He says that, when he is making a documentary, he takes photos constantly. Photography fascinates him because through it he is able to satisfy his curiosity and enjoy opportunities to explore different areas. Along the way, he is always able to find something that intrigues him.
Mr. Lu has been making documentaries about Kaohsiung and the ocean for a long time. His topics include fishermen and the fishing industry. When asked if he has a special interest in the sea, he stresses that people take center stage in his images. As his lens focuses on those individuals, their stories are revealed. Mr. Lu mentions that for a long time he has been paying constant attention to the anglers who fish from Cijin Island's northern breakwater, laborers who work at fish-freezing factories at Cianjhen Fishing Port, and the Amis people in Taitung County. Over the years, these people have become his good friends. Just prior to this interview, Mr. Lu was in Dulan in Taitung County. He is a frequent visitor to Yiyung's hometown in Taitung.
Mr. Lu sees Kaohsiung as buzzing with endless energy, and this helps him compose strong images. As Kaohsiung has evolved, it has attracted many migrants, giving it a diverse character. Mr. Lu has observed the city's transformation, and it has inspired him to record topics such as the fading hardware industry around Gongyuan Road, Hongmaogang, military dependents' villages, the Former Tangrong Brick Kiln, and the petrochemical industry.
After Mr. Lu completed the documentary Waiting for Fish in 2006, he produced various versions of a documentary called Freezing Point. He also continued shooting footage which later appeared in Just for New Parking and A New Park, interviewing residents who faced the demolition of their homes and relocation. In addition, his time-lapse photography works includes Grand Theater, Siaoyao Villa, and the demolition of Singren Residential Quarter. Mr. Lu insists on working on things that interest him, and over the past decade he has built up a body of work. He may not be the most productive photographer or director, but he takes pride in his work.
In 2013, Mr. Lu published a photography album titled Fishing Village in TAKAO, in which he recorded Kaohsiung's 65km of coastline, from Baishalun in Jiading District in the north to the fishing village of Shanwei in Linyuan District in the south. He is currently director of the Takao Renaissance Association.
From now until November 6, Mr. Lu's works are featured in Reading the Landscape: Stories from Artists, an exhibition at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts. Photography works such as Cement Factory under the Mountain and A Cave in the Mountain, as well as his time-lapse photography Grand Theater, are on display. As a photographer dedicated to record social images and movements, he always carries camera equipment with him. The images he has captured have broadened his vision and enriched his life. It was no surprise, then, that when our interview ended, he hopped on his motorcycle, and headed to the next location where he wants to take photographs.