Transforming medium into a photo narrative blog

A recap of my journeys in 20 cities 2013

This year I spent most of my time in New York working with my counterparts on an awesome project. At the same time I got chances to travel all over the world for both work and leisure. I ended up traveling to 20 different cities. Two days ago, I was looking for the best way to share my journeys with my family and friends before 2014. And below are the final outcome and the reasons why I chose Medium eventually over other services.

In search for an one-for-all solution

There are 3 main concerns for me to choose a service for this project. First, I wish I can finish the webpage/blog/photo sets within a day. Second, I am not willing to build a website myself start from scratch since it requires too much effort to make it looks good in terms of cross-browser support and desktop/mobile friendly. The last requirement is I want to find a service that is convenience, high quality and inexpensive. Surprisingly there are lots of choices, although those options are not primarily aim helping people to create an image heavy photo narrative blog, they got mostly what I am looking for in terms of the functionality.

  1. Pinterest Place Board — The map feature is a nice touch, I can add picture and description on a pin with precise geolocation information visually on a map. It works well in web browser/ big screen, but if I view it on mobile devices, the experience is much different.
  2. 500px sets — Pictures are beautifully organized on a square grid and I can arrow through the pictures easily in the full screen mode. But the downside is the same, the web version is not mobile optimized. I need to download the app in order to have a better viewing experience.
  3. — Great for demonstrating portfolio. But the mobile experience is still the main concern.
  4. Medium — Here we go: Full width photo, inline editing, responsive design, good choice of typography and clean layout. That is what I want.

Below is the demonstration of how I tried to use Medium as a photo-oriented blog verse a text-oriented blog. Although there are some “it would be great if there is …” features that I wish I could have, I am happy with the result.

A recap of my journeys in 20 cities

This year I travelled along with my Canon 5D markIII, iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 most of the time. My workspace is entirely mobile. I work on a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. I was working from home, from a co-working space, various apartments that I found on Airbnb and of course the headquarter in Manhattan(also thanks @divide for letting me stay in their awesome office when I was in London). Worth to mention the neighborhood guides from Airbnb and Lonely Planet helped a lot on my travel plan after I purchased air ticket from Kayak.

Places I have been to this year

New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Chicago, New Jersey, Paris, London, Brussels, Bruges, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Hainan, Macau and of course my home town — Hong Kong.

The Highlight

Rather than laying out all the photos in a chronological order, I selected some of the best moment in US, Euro and Asia in order to keep this page short and maintain readability.

Roof of Printemps — Paris

2013 Autumn

It was my first day in Paris. At the roof of Printemps, you can see a stunning sunset view of The Eiffel Tower. There were lots of couples kissing at the roof at that moment, so they probably missed this awesome view.

The Eiffel Tower, this is the best angle of view I found so far.
Took this shot from the Palais de Chaillot
On my way to The Eiffel Tower near Trocadéro metro station
Arc de Triomphe

The Louvre — Paris

2013 Autumn

The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement with lots of people lining up all day. While you are waiting inline, it is the perfect time to observe how people take pictures with one of the most photographed museum in the world. All you need to do is to search for a different angle of view/ perspective to make your picture special. This is probably a good task for killing time while you are waiting.

Inside The Louvre — Paris

2013 Autumn

I took a random shot from a window inside the museum. It was so hard to avoid reflection on the glass due to the curved surface of my camera lens. Normally if you want to avoid reflection when taking pictures behind a glass, you need to stick the lens on top of the glass to make sure no extra light coming in from the side between the lens and the glass.

Outside The Louvre

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris — Paris

2013 Autumn

The view outside the church, one of the advantage of using a wide angle lens on street photography is people will not know you are taking picture of them, so you can capture the natural moment of local people with great view.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris — Paris

2013 Autumn

Taking pictures inside churches is always a tough job, most of the time we are in a low light condition. You probably need to set a higher ISO value to increase the sensitivity of your camera sensor. Please remember DO NOT use flash.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Flower market in Île de la Cité

Window view from the Palace of Versailles — Paris

2013 Autumn

It was a long walk in the Palace of Versailles. According to my Up band, I walked almost 11 miles on that day. If you want to visit there, I highly recommend you rent a golf car there, don’t forget to bring your driver license.

The Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles

Basilica of the Sacré Cœur — Montmartre

2013 Autumn

Montmartre is a hill in the north of Paris. Standing right before the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and look down, you will find an amazing view. Buildings in Paris is not that high compare with New York and Hong Kong. Checkout the photo of the performer below.

A performer in Montmartre, it was a great show and the steel was strong.
I published a project named Monochrome on Behance, the first batch of photos are from my trip in Paris. Feel free to take a look and leave your comment there.

Grand Place — Brussels

2013 Autumn

It is located at a central square of Brussels. It is surrounded by guildhalls, the city’s Town Hall, and the Breadhouse. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels.

Manneken Pis
Porte de flandre train station

A Random Neighborhood — Brussels

2013 Autumn

There is a random street a few blocks away from where I was staying.

The house I stayed
The breakfast provided by the host
Duvel beer, a natural beer with a subtle bitterness
If you are going to Belgium, do not forget to try the beer, you are going to miss them once you have tried.

The Markt — Bruges

2013 Autumn

Located at the center of Bruges, Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. There are lots of good food and drinks in the market nearby.

Food in Bruges
Gouden Handrei, I can barely see people walking on the street that day.
Gouden Handrei
Walking in Bruges was like walking in “The Venice of the North”

Palace of Westminster — London

2013 Autumn

Yes, I went to London again. Last year I came here before the Olympics event, it was sunny all days during my stay. I finally can have the experience of traveling in the city of rain.

Near the Borough Tube Station
Millenium Bridge

London Eye — London

2013 Autumn

If you want to take good pictures, you’d better go during sunrise or sunset.

View from London Eye
Piccadilly Circus

Hyde Park — London

2013 Autumn

I heard that there is a Michelin restaurant there but I could not find it. The park was so big.

I ended up having lunch in the restaurant near the lake.
Night view in Piccadilly Circus
Divide London Office

Traveling in United States

I spent all of my time exploring places in east coast this year. New York is so far the best city I have ever been in US, but I think there are still lots of room for the improvement on the level of hygiene in New York subway.

The Flatiron District — New York

2013 Autumn

I was lifting up my camera with a tripod to take this shot, the result is amazing.

Sulpture near the Flatiron building
The iconic yellow taxi in 6th Avenue
The World Trade Center

42th Street Subway Station — New York

2013 Spring

Wall Street Subway Station
Film camera in MoMA
JOBS screening at MoMA

Manhattan Bridge — New York

2013 Spring

The Manhattan Bridge is on the left and the Brooklyn Bridge is on the right hand side.

Union Square
Union Square
6th Avenue
JFK Airport

Clark Street — Brooklyn

2013 Summer

Walking in Brooklyn and Manhattan are two difference experience, you will feel like you are on vacation when you are walking in Brooklyn. It is always a nice walk in this neighborhood on Sunday afternoons.

Somewhere in Brooklyn, I don’t know
Buildings are not as tall as Manhattan
The street is not as crowd as Manhattan
Sunset is always the best moment for photography

City Hall — Philadelphia

2013 Spring

I was having great times in Philadelphia staying with my friend and his cats. I came here 5 times this year same as the number of times I travelled from Hong Kong to New York.

It was my first day in Philadelphia
South Street
Love at first sight

Miami Beach — Miami

2013 Spring

The first team trip with my counterparts in New York, we went there for the NBA game, staying in Key Biscayne. Relaxing on the beach with nice weather.

Key Biscayne Miami
Miami Beach
Miami Beach
On the way to the NBA game
MIA Airport

The Capitol — Washington DC

2013 Autumn

Autumn is always the best season to travel. I went to Washington, Boston, Chicago in late 2013, it was phenomenal.

The first scene I saw when I walked out from Union Station
The White House

Thomas Jefferson Memorial— Washington DC

2013 Autumn

Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial

Willis Tower — Chicago

2013 Autumn

It was a 3-day trip. I bought the city pass there. The Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center are the must go places in Chicago. You should go to checkout the view during sunset.

Millennium Park
The Big Bean
CTA in Chicago
ORD Airport

Fenway Victory Gardens — Boston

2013 Autumn

Near Charles River
Coolidge Corner
Fenway Park
Harvard Square

English Premier League and NBA

I watched 1 football game and 7 NBA matches this year. I am still searching for a place/site that I can find the best deal for the ticket. They are probably the most expensive activities throughout my trips.

Emirates Stadium — London

2013 Autumn — Arsenal VS Norwich City

Shot after the game, Arsenal won. Jack Wilshere scored a fantastic goal and Aaron Ramsey shown us he is ready to fight for the Player of the Year award this season.

Emirates Stadium — London

2013 Autumn — Arsenal VS Norwich City

Shot before the game, surrounded by season ticket holders, I was having a good time with them.

I am lucky enough for having chances to watch live games of those great players like Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce that I have already been watching in my childhood.

Madison Square Garden — Manhattan

2013 Winter — New York Knicks VS Minnesota Timberwolves

Even with new additions on board, the performance of New York Knicks were far under our expectation. Rubio was definitely a surprise for me in this game.

Barclays Center — Brooklyn

2013 Spring — Brooklyn Nets VS Miami Heat, 2013 Winter — Brooklyn Nets VS Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets VS Denver Nuggets

I went to Barclays Center 3 times this year, I went to support my favorite team Miami Heat in February and watched my favorite player Kevin Garnett twice.

United Center — Chicago

2013 Autumn — Chicago Bulls VS Charlotte Bobcats

Watching a game of the former MVP Derrick Rose is definitely the best selling point for this game.

American Airlines Arena — Miami

2013 Spring — Miami Heat VS Philadelphia 76ers

This is the best game I have ever seen this year. Heat eventually became the champion in that season.

Wells Fargo Arena — Philadelphia

2013 Winter — Philadelphia 76ers VS New Orleans Pelicans

It was the day after thanksgiving. The game was a bit boring. I almost fall asleep.

Adventure in Asia

I was using my iPhone 5 to take pictures when I was in Asia. Instagram is my favorite photo sharing app.

The Wedding in Sanya — Hainan

2013 Spring

This is the best wedding shot I have ever took. The lighting situation is perfect, the bride is beautiful and the sky is blue enough to establish the peaceful atmosphere.

Taipei 101 Building
Taipei Station
Tuntex Sky Tower in Kaohsiung
Small village in Kaohsiung


This post is a bit too long so I decide to stop here. There are still a lot of pictures and places I have not shown. You can follow me on Twitter, Dribbble, Behance, 500px or Instagram if you are interested in checking out my works.

Also here is the list of places I stayed, they are all great apartments/private rooms. The hosts are friendly. Highly recommended!

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Chicago
  3. Paris
  4. Brussels
  5. London

Thank you and Happy New Year!