Cover Photo: Christopher Lim

A new generation of Hong Kong photographers will have you falling in love with the city all over again

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to see Hong Kong for the first time. Having grown up in a city that is defined by its madness, I’ve sometimes worried about becoming apathetic to its allure.

But every now and then, I catch a glimpse of Hong Kong with a fresh perspective, often through the lens of a photographer who captured something seemingly ordinary and often overlooked. Like generations before them, they are attuned to the life of a city through its streets.

Intentionally or not, Hong Kong’s street photographers have become its archivists. American artist Jin Meyerson once told me during one of his exhibitions here that “if New York is a city that never sleeps, Hong Kong is a city that never lets you rest”. Photographs give us the opportunity to pause and appreciate the grit and character that makes this city unlike any other.

“Hong Kong is rapidly changing,” says South African-born, Hong Kong-based photographer Gideon de Kock. “It is such a melting pot of cultures. The East-meets-West hybrid and the city’s unique personality are all begging to be photographed and honoured.”

Amanda Kho, the photographer behind many Tatler Hong Kong features, including this month’s cover story, agrees: “I find Hong Kong to be a very emotional and confrontational city. The juxtaposition of so many dualities is crammed into a dense area. It’s easy to both create and get lost in one’s own reality. And it’s just as easy to step out of that reality and experience something else.”

See also: Hong Kong Photographer Stanley Chung On Tracing The Steps Of His Father, James Chung

While the sparkling image of Hong Kong’s skyline tends to steal the show, many photographers find that quiet moments and spaces between buildings are where the real life of Hong Kong can be found.

Kevin Cheung, who is Tatler’s in-house videographer, turns to photography in his spare time to capture more static moments. “Every corner you turn is a new scene and every day has something new to offer,” he says. “But I think what makes Hong Kong truly unique is its imperfection, the brutalist architecture, the ‘ugly’ colours, the mixture between traditional and modernity. There is beauty in its imperfections.”

Here, some of Hong Kong's rising photographers share some of their favourite moments they've captured on camera. 

Amanda Kho

“This particular photo resonates with me because it symbolises the ritual of putting on and taking off one’s armour with each passing day. The clothing is hung
at eye-level, and their combination with the setting (or rising) sun brings a very human level to it. Life can be hard but this is a moment of quietness to recharge, appreciate and just be.” —Amanda Kho

Gideon de Kock

“Documenting Hong Kong, in a way that I hope comes across with admiration and respect to those who call it home, is important to me.”—Gideon De Kock

Ronson Chan

“The tram, or ‘ding ding’, is a Hong Kong icon. Moving through the Chinese signboard and the golden McDonald’s sign, it captures the phenomenon of
East-meets-West culture in Hong Kong.”—Ronson Chan

Alex Castro-Moore

“I’ve always loved the interesting results produced by shooting through windows of Traditional Chinese Medicine shops.”—Alex Castro Moore

Elaine Li

“This photo is peak Mong Kok. You can hear the honks and chatter through the image.”—Elaine Li

Christopher Lim

“I used to feel lonely being alone. But I’m learning this same loneliness that isolates us is what brings us closer.”—Christopher Lim

Jeremy Cheung

“As Hong Kong experiences big changes, we’ve got to remind ourselves to keep calm, enjoy the beautiful things that still surround us and keep going under all circumstances”—Jeremy Cheung

Derry Ainsworth

“Behind the beauty of the glowing wall of fish, I feel this photo is a metaphor for life in Hong Kong—that feeling of always being surrounded by others but feeling alone at the same time.” —Derry Ainsworth

Michael Kistler

"I love capturing otherwise unnoticed moments of beauty and contrast amid the drama of life in the city. I shot this at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, using a reflective surface to create a mirroring effect that adds a layer of complexity to the photo. I like the mood created by combining architecture, abstraction and a human element who essentially becomes part of the surrounding shapes, lines and textures." —Michael Kistler

Victor Cheng

"Hong Kong to me is everything. The city offers a wide selection of photography subjects. From nature to architectural to coffee flatlays, you can find a bit of everything here. I’m mostly inspired through the vast colours the city has to offer. There’s a pop of color in every neighborhood which makes it so unique." —Victor Cheng