Hong Kong Through The Lens Of The City's Street Photographers
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.”
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.
“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
“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
"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
"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