Hong Kong Today showcases three photographers' perspective of Hong Kong

Hong Kong Today showcases three photographers' perspective of Hong Kong

Three photographers work are shown in Hong Kong Today, an exhibit that shows both the beauty and the ugliness of our city

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(From left) Kwan Kam Cheong, Nick Poon and Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze with their works.
(From left) Kwan Kam Cheong, Nick Poon and Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze with their works.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

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View from the Berwick by Kwan Kam Cheong.
View from the Berwick by Kwan Kam Cheong.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

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Imprison by Nick Poon.
Imprison by Nick Poon.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

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Empty Shells by Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze.
Empty Shells by Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

Hong Kong is home to some because it's where they grew up; it's home to others because it's where their inspiration lies.

For Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze, a French photographer spending his fifth year in the city, the urban scenery is still fascinating. After returning from a two-week visit to Paris, he said: "Surprisingly, I feel at home in Hong Kong."

Nick Poon and Kwan Kam-cheong are two local photographers who have a different feeling for the city.

Hong Kong Today, a photo exhibition in Chai Wan's AO Vertical, features the works of all three of the artists, revealing both the city's charm and the gloom.

Poon and Kwan both have a love-hate feeling for Hong Kong. "You can only hate something when you have love for it," Kwan says. In his eyes, home is a "cannibal Hong Kong". He uses his camera to capture the city's dark and fragile side.

Kwan enjoys wandering around and quietly taking snap shots of whatever happens to catch his eye. It's just him and his camera. "I like quiet, maybe that's why I like shooting … no obligation to make conversation," says Kwan. "It's not that I like taking photos; I like walking on the streets more than taking photos."

As an outsider to Hong Kong, Jacquet-Lagrèze is always curious about what he sees, but he says he lacks the instinct to shoot in his home city. This is never an issue for Poon or Kwan. "Hong Kong is always changing, everything is vanishing," says Kwan. He feels a pressure to act in time to capture what's left of the old Hong Kong.

Poon also uses photography as a way to cherish the old and the disappearing.

"Shooting makes me know the city better," says Poon, who is attracted to Hong Kong's intensity and chaos. This special environment makes it a very photo-friendly city.

Imprison, an award-winning series from Poon, features the messy street-side shops and how they are "constrained" in a square frame. He has tried to capture similar images in Taiwan and Canada, but found that it's only natural and effortless in Hong Kong. In the photos, people blend seamlessly with their environment, which is chaotic but has a unique beauty.

"In a way, these photos reflect my state of mind," says Poon. "Everyone is somehow constrained in his own life."

The three photographers have very different perspectives on one particular theme: Kowloon.

"It's old, sometimes [suddenly] modern, but not so much," says Jacquet-Lagrèze.

As an example, he takes Langham Place, which is located "in the middle of a messy place". He loves to see that strong contrast, as "it makes the streets more alive".

Jacquet-Lagrèze focused on abandoned buildings in Kowloon for his new series, Empty Shells. It hit him one day when he passed by an old building and noticed the empty flats inside.

"What I like is that you can see some traces of the lives of the people who were living there," says Jacquet-Lagrèze. His images have brightness and vividness, while View from the Berwick (Kwan's black and white series on the same subject) is dark.

"Even though it's the same city, the same buildings, the same everything … the result of how people see this city can be so different, depending on their backgrounds and their own philosophy," says gallery director, Sarah Greene.

"Photography is not so much about how you take pictures; it's about how you see the world."

Hong Kong Today is on until October 24. For more details, check out AO Vertical Art Space.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Three lenses capture home

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