How to Capture a Life: Mr Mung's Camera Shop

January 6, 2020

Sunday afternoons are often a little slower here in Kaohsiung. People spend time at the parks, make leisurely dinners, or sit around to drink tea and play games.  But, if you find yourself peaking through the tarped doors at The Gushan (Everything on Earth and More) Evening Market you will find something of quite a different pace.

Gushan Evening Market is where you go to get, well, anything.  Inside the tarped doors is an explosion of chaos. But, with a closer you will find a rhythm to all of the movement. Little islands of shops that take claim of space by setting their stock out on large tarps and blankets. The surrounding walls reveals a series of altered garages where people display and sell their themed collections. From cast iron skillets, to toys from the 1950’s, if you’re willing to look for it, it will be there.

Along the back wall between driftwood art and a man karaoking with himself is Mr. Mung’s Camera Shop. He was born in China and immigrated to Taiwan when he was four years old. He, among many others in his generation, came to Taiwan to leave the communist regime in China in the 1950’s. He grew up here, but at a point of transition into his adulthood, Ming had the opportunity to leave his boyhood home into quite a different world.

“Moving away from home changed the course of my life.” He had to learn German, figure out how to make friends, and learn his intended craft; architecture. “I became interested in cameras when I took pictures of the buildings in Germany.” He stayed because of love…and German beer,” he told us.   For 23 years he worked in architecture and took in life. Until the day he felt the pull back to this green island. “I love Germany, but I love Taiwan more.”

His photos were not so good, he confessed,  but he loves the mechanics that worked inside the camera. Unlike today, it wasn’t just a button you pressed on your phone. “I have over 200 cameras,” he told us. “Maybe more.”

He tipped his coffee cup towards us and smiled. “I’d like to tell you more but I’m drinking some Sunday beer right now.”

During the weekdays he works from home repairing clocks and radios. But, on the weekends you can find him here surrounded by friends and visitors alike happy to talk about his cameras.