Ideal Founder Series 008
Jimmy Kao , Founder of Mountain Studio
Jun 23, 2023
山影工作室創辦人 - 高銘澤，接觸攝影的故事要從大學時期的一次機緣說起。從未接觸過攝影的他，在朋友的一場活動中擔任了臨時攝影師，也正是這次的經驗讓他對攝影產生了興趣。
隨著對攝影越來越熟悉，他決定將攝影和另一項興趣做結合 - 登山，他和朋友們會利用閒暇時間一起探索台灣的群山，這樣的機會也逐漸加深了他對攝影和山林的熱愛。
於是，銘澤和朋友們共同創立了山影的前身 - 山影社。
Story of Jimmy's journey into photography begins with a serendipitous opportunity during his university days. Having never had any prior experience in photography, he found himself as a temporary photographer at a friend’s event. It was that experience that sparked his interest in photography.
As Jimmy became more familiar with photography, he decided to combine it with another passion of his - mountaineering. He and his friends would use their spare time to explore the mountains of Taiwan, further deepening his love for photography and the outdoors. Together with his friends, Jimmy co-founded a photography club, which is the precursor to what would later become known as "Mountain Studio".
During the transition from a underground group to establishing a formal studio, Jimmy worked tirelessly outside of his regular job to lay the foundation for Mountain Studio. However it was still a rather challenging entrepreneurial journey, filled with ups and downs, and he faced resistance from his family, even considering closing down the studio at one point.
However, Jimmy's passion for photography and his unwavering determination drove him to build Shan Ying step by step. Despite the setbacks along the way, he understood that without embracing failure and taking risks, there would never be an opportunity for success.
Q. 請用三個詞形容你自己 / Use three words to describe yourself
Lively, cheerful, and optimistic.
Q. 如果你沒有開始你的事業，現在的你會在做什麼呢? / If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?
If Mountain Studio wasn't in operation today, there is a high possibility that I would be working in my family’s factory. The story begins before Mountain Studio was formally established. At that time, I was working at a bank, and photography was more of a side endeavor during my free time or on weekends. I would reach out to potential clients and take on relatively simple projects, gradually accumulating my portfolio.
As I established my portfolio step-by-step, it brought in a significant number of new clients, leading to the official establishment of Mountain Studio Studio. However, just as things seemed to be on track, the pandemic hit, and all cases were forced to be canceled. I started seriously contemplating whether to end Mountain Studio and return to my family’s factory. However, I knew that the monotonous routine of the factory environment was not the stage I wanted to be on.
Months quickly passed by, and during that time, I managed to scrape by with sporadic projects. Finally, as the pandemic situation improved and the number of projects gradually returned to pre-pandemic levels, it felt like a sign from above guiding me in the right direction. This prompted me to reorganize everything within Mountain Studio, including the brand, team, and strategies. One change after another, leading Mountain Studio back on track.
Q. 在創業的過程中，你面對最艱難的挑戰是什麼 ? / What significant challenges have you faced when working on this company?
最初成立的那陣子，為了找到願意給我們嘗試的客戶，我們起初不斷的打電話做開發，但一百通電話裡面大概只會有一、兩通會成功談成。業務從來不是我擅長的領域，但我很慶幸能經歷這樣的磨練，因為這種經歷讓今天的我能夠順利與客戶溝通，甚至變成私底下的朋友，而這樣的溝通正與山影想帶給客戶們的價值互相呼應 - 溫度。
I believe that every business faces its own set of challenges at different stages, and for me, the most difficult part was how to bring Mountain Studio from obscurity to the attention of the public.
During the initial establishment phase, we had to make hundreds of calls just to find ourselves a couple of clients who were willing to give us a chance. However, out of those calls, only two or three would result in successful projects. Sales and business development were never something I’m good at, but I am grateful for the experience because it has shaped me into someone who can effectively communicate with clients and even form personal friendships. And this kind of communication aligns perfectly with the value that Mountain Studio aims to bring to its clients - warmth.
4. What was the biggest surprise or obstacle you encountered while building your startup and what did you learn?
As a visual creator, one of the greatest advantages is the opportunity to encounter individuals with diverse appearances and unique stories. For us, there is no such thing as the "biggest surprise" because with each interaction with different clients, we discover new surprises, gain insights into different perspectives, and listen to a variety of stories.
In this environment, "change" becomes the only constant. We gradually become accustomed to communicating with clients from different backgrounds and develop the ability to think from their perspective. Ultimately, this cultivates our skill in uncovering stories, which is an essential capability for visual creators.
In such a working environment, we embrace every moment with anticipation because we never know what will happen next in the filming process. Even if the surprise shows up as a challenge, we’re still enthusiastically embracing it. These experiences enable us to savor each moment and progressively enhance our team's resilience.
Q. 如果在創業過程中你可以做一件事情不同的事，那會是什麼? / If you could have done one thing differently while building your startup, what would it be?
All of us, including myself, aspire for constant improvement in Mountain Studio. However, the quality of our work is not solely determined by the techniques and hardware used during filming. The post-production vision and skills are equally crucial.
The same footage can yield significant differences when subjected to different post-processing treatments. Therefore, I hope to emphasize the importance of post-production at an earlier stage in Mountain Studio. Fortunately, our team is continuously advancing. Whether it's the camera operation and shot composition at the front end or the editing at the post-production stage, we are constantly enhancing our skills.
We’re also hoping that this kind of progress will allow us to explore a wider range of projects. With our team becoming more diverse, we understand that by effectively integrating our resources, Mountain Studio will be able to provide customers with a more satisfying experience!
Q. 你是怎麼衡量你的成功? 你衡量的標準是什麼? / At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your metrics?
We don’t have a specific standard for "success" for ourselves. Our primary focus is whether we can deliver the highest quality results to our clients.
We are aware that there is still room for improvement in Mountain Studio. Therefore, our recent goal is to engage with more projects from the public sectors. This not only pushes our limits but also allows us to concentrate on pursuing higher quality, as these projects tend to be more straightforward in terms of requirements and scope.
Q. 你會對其他的有野心和熱情的創業家說什麼? / What would you tell aspiring startup founders?
保持野心和熱情在創業時無疑是加分的，但我認為不可或缺的是持之以恆的毅力。在順風順水的時候，出來創業看似是個完美的選擇，但真正的問題是，當刮起逆風時，作為掌舵者的你是否仍然願意緊握船舵，堅定地朝著目標前進。Entrepreneurship is a fascinating journey because when we look back, we’ll see how brave we were and how decisions could have been handled better. Whether we feel grateful to our past selves or learn valuable lessons from them, the outcomes are not known in the present moment.
When facing challenges, the only question we can ask ourselves is: Do I want this to be continued?
Having ambition and passion is undoubtedly a plus in entrepreneurship, but what is essential is perseverance. While starting a business may seem like a perfect choice during smooth sailing, the real test comes when faced with headwinds. As the one steering the , are you willing to firmly grasp the rudder and move forward towards your goals?
About Mountain Studio
Q. 山影工作室是誰? / Who is 山影工作室?
Our services extend beyond still photography, commercial videos, and motion capture. Since our inception, we have collaborated with partners from various professional fields. As a result, Mountain Studio can assist clients in building their corporate brands, creating commercial videos, live streaming, and even producing animations.
What sets Mountain Studio apart is our emphasis on both technical expertise and creativity. Our young and flexible team is capable of making our client’s ideas into reality, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the present moment and create lasting memories.
Q. In a few sentences, what do you offer and to whom?
Through flexible and customized services, we strive to incorporate your creative ideas into our visual works. As long as you dare to imagine, Mountain Studio will do our best to bring them to life and present them in the most heartfelt and warm manner!
Q. 用幾句話說明你的公司還有你要解決的問題 / What is your company and problems you are addressing in a few sentences?
我覺得我們要解決的問題其實很簡單 - 讓客戶們的可以專心地享受當下。
I believe the problem we aim to solve is actually quite simple - to allow our clients to fully immerse themselves in the present moment.
Although it may seem like a simple and straightforward request, it is challenging to achieve. We aspire to deliver more than just a photograph or a video. We want our clients to truly experience and cherish the present moment, and in the future, revisit those precious memories through our work.
Memories are what we aim to present to our customers.
Q. 和我們分享目前為止，關於你的產品 / 服務受市場歡迎的吸引力是什麼 ? / What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
Dynamic shooting has always been our expertise, covering areas such as interviews, weddings, and documentary filming. These are the fields where we have the utmost confidence and they were the main reasons why clients were initially drawn to Mountain Studio Productions.
However, after years of experience in the field, I believe the most distinctive feature of Mountain Studio Productions is the warmth we bring to our work.
While the primary goal after we arrive at a shooting location is to set up the hardware, and workflow planning, and capturing visuals. It is crucial for us to take the time to truly understand our clients' needs and the stories behind them.
While equipment setup and workflow planning may be similar across projects, what truly makes each project unique is the underlying story. Different stories require different approaches to capture and present them, allowing us to merge our clients' creativity with visual storytelling in this age of experiential demands, thus we can depict the unique stories of our clients.
Q. 你認為在今年你的成長里程碑會是什麼 ? / Where do you think your growth and milestones will be for 2023?
After going through the challenges posed by the pandemic, we have come to realize the importance of maintaining a high level of flexibility while expanding our team. This flexibility is crucial in terms of management and strategy , especially for a team like Mountain Studio, consisting of experts from different fields. Therefore, our current goal is to leverage the client base of our partners, fostering mutual communication and promotion to truly introduce Mountain Studio Productions to a wider audience.
At the same time, we also aim to find more collaborative partners as we aspire to engage in more projects with government and public institutions in the near future. Such expansion plans come with high demands for human resources.
Q. 目前你的公司正在尋找什麼? (例如:資金、新市場擴張、人才?) / What would be the 3 things that your company is looking for now? (e.g. Funding, new market expansion, new hires?)
As mentioned earlier, our need for talent is urgent. However, it's not just about increasing the number of our staff; what we truly strive for is to build a team that is rich in resources and highly flexible. Only through this can we maintain resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges.
Meet The Team
Q. 你有團隊嗎? 請介紹一下團隊成員，以及你是如何找到他們並且建立現在的團隊? / Do you have a team? If yes, who are they, and how did you go about building your team?
Initially, Mountain Studio (山影) started as an underground club without a formal team structure. It was formed by a group of like-minded friends who shared a passion for photography. Throughout this journey, we have met numerous partners and gradually transformed from a club into our own studio.
And our team members are highly diverse, each bringing expertise from different fields. Through collaborations on various projects, we have consistently built the foundation of our current team.
3. What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?
一個攝影團隊能否維持高品質的關鍵不在於器材的優劣，也不在於後製技術的優劣，而是最簡單純粹的東西 ─ 畫面。
I greatly admire each member of Mountain Studio, and our years of collaboration have led to a level of synergy that we take immense pride in. The current working model of Mountain Studio exemplifies the ideal and harmonious nature of a photography team.
The key to maintaining high-quality work in a photography team does not solely lie in the quality of equipment or post-processing techniques but rather in the simplest and purest element - the visual composition.
With our strong rapport, we are able to adapt seamlessly in fast-paced shooting environments and present clients with the most authentic visual narratives that capture the essence of their stories.
Ｑ. 你會如何和其他新創公司的創辦人分享你的經驗和感想，關於成為理想Ideal 社群中的一員？ / What would you tell other startup founders about being part of the Ideal community and your experience here?
老實說，山影團隊大部分時間都在外面奔波，相對較少機會能夠參與 Ideal 的社群活動，但 Ideal 對經常在外奔波的我們，提供的是一份安心感。
我認為 Ideal 特別的地方在於，每個團隊都會和 Ideal 產生特殊的連結，這樣的連結也正是山影重視的特質 - 樂於理解特質與需求。他們理解每位客戶的需求，也因此 Ideal 帶給山影的不一定會是他們帶給其他團隊的東西，所以我很推薦沒來過 Ideal 的團隊們親自來一趟 Ideal，感受 Ideal 的用心。
To be honest, our team spends a significant amount of time working on location, which limits our opportunities to participate in Ideal's community events. However, Ideal provides us with a sense of reassurance in our constant traveling and hectic schedules.
What sets Ideal apart is the unique connection that each team forms with them. This connection aligns with one of Mountain Studio's core values - a willingness to understand distinct qualities and needs. Ideal understands the requirements of each client, and what they bring to Mountain Studio may differ from what they offer to other teams. Therefore, I highly recommend other teams who haven't experienced Ideal to visit in person and feel the genuine dedication they provide.