Everyone would agree to consider Hong Kong as being an obvious dream for photographers thanks to its combination of nature and urban landscapes within short distance. From modern skyscrapers and old heritage buildings to heavenly beaches and exotic hiking trails, Hong Kong offers many eye-catching spots for photographers, professionals and amateurs alike.
Known for being one of the world’s largest financial hubs, Hong Kong is also one of the world’s greatest multicultural cities, a city full of character and diversity. No wonder why it is considered by many street photographers as an exciting playground showing the future with its modern skyscrapers, and the past with its narrow alleys and older neighbourhoods, each with their own local identity and ecosystem.
Thus, more than a photogenic and instagramable city, Hong Kong offers endless possibilities and opportunities and has significantly emerged as the nest for a constantly growing community of street photographers with a strong taste for real in-motion daily life shots and a significant human approach to street photography, putting Hong Kong people at the centre of their shots and creating storytelling about human beings in their daily environment. These street photographers have been putting themselves at people level to give a more human approach to the city, a salutary move in a buzzing and bustling city which can often be seen as intimidating with its skyscrapers and high population density.
This approach has been particularly emphasised by the pandemic and the impossibility to travel. Street photographers have been staying in the city longer than usual and it has certainly impacted their shots. In 2020 and 2021, new visions and perspective on Hong Kong have emerged, a deeper focus on its streets, neighbourhoods and people. Like all citizens who got to spend more time in town and who felt the need to explore and (re)discover the city, street photographers have spontaneously embraced this opportunity to offer a new window on their environment through their lens and they have constantly filled their platforms with genuine and powerful daily street shots.
Michael Kistler, Hong Kong based photographer and founder of Click 852 Studio, said that, since Covid, he has had “the opportunity to revisit locations and shoot them more intensively”. Streetlifestops is not really sad of not being able to travel since Hong Kong offers a lot for photography. But “what really changed is that […] wearing a mask cut off a lot of its magic”. Jeffrey Lau started shooting more regularly with the pandemic. While the facial expression can’t be captured with the mask on, he still enjoys shooting people in their daily lives, “there are more uncertainties and surprises”, according to him.
These photographers, while sharing a same passion for Hong Kong and its people, are hailing from different culture, industry and generation, and have different visions and perceptions of the city, which is reflected on their photographs. Some are exploring street art and graffiti, very present in the city, well-maintained and praised. Others are dedicated to shed light on small traditional shops and craftsmanship. Some choose to focus on faces in the crowds. Others prefer night shots, in a city where neon are still predominant and photogenic.
Despite their different backgrounds, some like to gather as a community to share their passion and skills in a relaxed and kind atmosphere with like-minded people and to organise photography walks. There are some clubs such as Cathay Camera Club founded in 1982 and Hong Kong Photography Club (HKPC) founded in 2006. They represent a genuine and humble community of city and humans’ lovers who are very welcoming with newcomers.
Indeed, with photography not being solely a roll of film taking hours to develop in a dark room like it was in the past, and with the ascent of digital, more amateur photographers have emerged. Instagram has also undeniably help photographers to share their shots and to build a platform of followers and photography lovers. It had also help aspiring photographers to join this growing community, to enable communication between photographers and city lovers, and to share tips and advice.
Eventually, these Hong Kong street photographers have shaped a new vision of the city, not only known for its skyline and heavenly nature but also for its vibrant and diverse people living in an evolving environment. At a time of a worldwide pandemic and travel restrictions, it also reflects the need for people to turn into their immediate neighbourhood and entourage and to enjoy the close diversity of their environment.
If you have a taste for street photography or simply for Hong Kong, you may want to follow some of these photographers. Not all well-known, each of them has a unique way to tell stories and to humbly pay tribute to the city and its people.