Spirit of Our Home

It’s such an experience to work on something so journalistic for the first time with the professional editors. It’s actually quite similar to how I approach some talkative strangers for photo. We approached traditional dry goods businesses that run by family. Some of these people have been working in the industry for all their lives, including their long-time staff. It’s so great to hear all their stories, how it all started etc.. I could feel the love with their stories. They represent the Old Hong Kong which I believe we desperately need to preserve. Believe or not, the industry can disappear.

The Old Hong Kong is knowns for its kindness, hospitality, genuinely welcoming vibe (人情味). It’s a Chinese term that is not easy to be translated. I cannot say it’s disappeared, but the city currently is really unhappy about just so many things. Perhaps the information these days flow just too fast on our cellphones, or most problems these days can be solved with money, or there’re just too many people living in the city. Or maybe the term (人情味) is simply skimmed down to how we Hong Kongese call as – nice.

During this year’s Chinese New Year lunch gathering with the family of my dad’s brother, my mom spoke about how difficult life was back then. A visit back to her hometown in China sounded like a trip to the Amazon jungle. First, the boat ride took long and was very rough. Then the only pier available was in Lantau Island which would take another long bumpy land/water ride to get there (the islands were not connected to the city). That was 50 years ago. She told us how she missed the once-a-day boat to China in heavy rain. She was just a girl and some unknown family allowed her to stay for the night. Imagine that today, to have a stranger come to your apartment. What’s even crazier was the family showed her around in Lantau the morning after. It’d imagine Lantau was more like a fishing village back then, as remote as you could imagine.

When people speak about the spirit of Hong Kong people, they would refer it to this classic Cantonese tune 獅子山下/Under the Lion Rock sang by Roman Tam. You get a sense of how difficult life was for that generation. We lived under the same roof, we struggled, we united, we gave, we helped each other. There’s always hope when we fight hard, work hard. Even the SAR Government re-wrote a song based on this one – 同舟之情/HK Our Home. It’s quite a contrast if you view the clips one after another. Our government sends out message to us, wanting us to cheer up and remind us who we really are.

Windmill of Fortune
Indonesian
World of tiny monitors
Playing
Indonesian
Closing Business
Sparkle Up

Trying and Believing

As you’re reading this post, I’ve already got invited as a photographer by an active editor/writer in Hong Kong, who’s pledged on working on a book project. What’s exciting about this book project is that: It’s about Hong Kong and I can be part of it to contribute to my home. I get to work together as a team on topics that I also wanted to do. I cannot say I’m nervous, but just so little to know what to expect. Just like how you’d imagine what a new job is all about. I have a good grasp on all the common environmental settings, all i have to do is to be there really. Be there on the spot!

The workflow would be so different from what I normally do on such as a project or a photo essay. It will require more communication exchanges on photo selections and directions we should steer onto. I’m glad I could experience like this. On the other hand, I get to speak English again which I feel familiar with and yet odd (because I got rusty).

And how about the very same editor interviewed me for a themed article on a local english magazine along with a few other photographers (can’t wait to see how it’d look under the care of professionals). Who would have thought i get opportunity like this? It feels like a little lottery I’ve won.

I must thank myself for trying and believing thus far.

The Curtain
Kid thru the Glass
Prism
Into the Illusional Blue
Fine Wines in Professional Cellar
Professional Food Prep
Manageable Scale
Unmanageable Scale

Improvise

A flat that I live in with my parents is more like a storage room than a place to live in. Things are everywhere which most of them contributed to my parents. Maybe the flat is too small, maybe the hardship they’d been through in their earlier days, trashing their own stuff is a prohibited act. A living place as such had planted a hopeless seed in me. As much as I want to have my own place or even just a bedroom that would fit my PC is a dream that I could only wish for. I’m lucky enough already that I’ve tasted what it’s like to live by myself. It’s when you finally grown up and start taking care of yourself. I can’t agree more. It’s only that I’m going backwards.

Those who work hard to get to where they are, with enough savings for a flat’s down payment. Am I not working hard enough? Is this what I deserve? I don’t even know how to save enough for the price of a square foot (HKD$10,000).

I lose some, and gain some. I get to see my retired parents everyday, get to take care of each other.

Seeing how my peers make their living as a Investment Banker, Insurance Sales Manager, and even many of my former schoolmates had become accountants; it’s a letdown to know how little i earn. But if you ask me if I’d like to work as the above mentioned, nope. I want something that has to do with me. It is why I appreciate those who dedicate their life in art as a profession. To some degree I also believe cooking is an art. You’re in charge in so many different ways, with dishes that can be varied, paired, shared and appreciated. Wonderful food is no doubt a catalyst to a happier life.

No matter how tiny and messy my home is, on rare occassion when I catch the mood, I’d improvise and hand roll my own fresh pasta. Fun fact, I almost had to roll the dough on the floor with plastic wrap in order to get a huge surface. It can be a disaster to clean up though. It takes 10 minutes or less to finish that plate, the work behind on prep and clean up may take as long as an hour. It’s out of my curiosity I wish to accomplish by trying. It always takes a couple trial and errors to get it right. Yup, I’d just use the dry pasta for the normal days.

Cooking is the least I could do to make myself satisfied, while my photography has the same effect but only with the shadow of uncertainty. My every other weeks, to be able to handpick a couple images of life around here is what I feel thankful for. The tram scene I discovered while passing the odd moments with colleagues, the fish tank at my grand aunt’s during our family visit, presentation of art exhibits, the surprise ground full of floral petals at a mall, , the chef preparing teppanyaki at our company’s Chinese New Year Gathering. They’re all so vivid and meaningful to me.

Tram to Happy Valley
Gold Fish
Understanding the presentation
The Petal Boy
Mouthwatering Sizzle

The Life Projected

I have forgotten why I do photography. This feeling grew so strongly lately to the point I basically put the entire act in halt. I tried anything from going back to digital, back to my film rangefinder, even ventured with my instax. Not even a single photo was made. Not a surprise, It’s something I expected beforehand.

It all supposed to be a fun and exciting activity. Something I swore I would do daily and every so often. I never knew I’d come to this point where I’m questioning why I’m doing in the first place. What an irony..

In a nutshell, to me it’s pointless to even have a camera with me without a proper purpose.

There’re other genres that I’d like to try, such as fashion. It can’t be done without models. And it’s unfortunate I’m lacking on in this kind of network. I really thought some sort of collaboration would be super cool. It’s at least a new type of content I wish it could be added along to the normal routine. This more or less explained why I’m so detached to the street photography. There’s just no excuses of how my shitty life projected onto my photography.

My work life is greatly affecting my personal life, emotionally. I certainly see a passage however underlies with lots of doubts, such as responsibilities and lack of raise/title. I hope this odd feeling would level out and back to normal soon.

Present to you images from 3 different rolls, 2 different cameras. Screw the inconsistency…
Abandoned
Was Colonial, here's what's left
The Superpower
Rainbow
The world thru the projector
The world thru the life experience
Fun not all Hongkongese would understand
Emotion that only your early age would understand

Retrospective in Prototype

When all I think about is to photograph and not having a direction, made me realize it’s not about how good a scene is, how coincidentally I walk into a developing moment, or even how good I thought I think to myself. Without a direction, I’m basically blind. Until I figure out what to achieve, I’m sitting duck. I always have this idea how a painter paint. Slowly but surely, there’s all the time in the world for a piece. What’s all the rush for?

I kept asking what am I up to. The answer remains the same, I just want to produce without a constraint of rules. I can easily put all the causes on how short the daylight is in winter. My best answer is I’m just at the wrong place for all these time. For the past 2 weeks or so, I got contacted and was given a chance to make my own photobook. It was an opportunity for a company’s research purposes. At first, I thought I must put the ‘Chasing the Fire Dragon‘ or ‘the Island Getaway‘; something that I thought had a focus on it. I then remember I told myself my mobile images collected over the year could very well be a book itself. All the happenings were recorded through each frame. Nonetheless, it’s got a better reception than the rest. Other opportunities such as magazine showcase and group exhibition all because of the mobile.

The book I had worked on did not take all that long from start to finish, surely because of all the photo selection I’d done through blogging. I spent time mostly arranging them with a bit of a sequence. I did type a preface and found the best photo for the hardback cover. I like how the end product turns out. This free trial without the ISBN and a publisher, I felt like all these years I earned this prize. As I flip through the pages, I really see flashes of moments where I was, how indulged I was, how fast-changing the city was around me. It’s so unbelievable that these images had transformed from a data file into a printed paper.

It’s hack of a keeper for myself. Here’s the front cover if you wish to see for yourself. 

Hearts after hearts
Giving, sharing, fighting
Broken Mirror
Rain of Lights
Alternative Practice
_
Wish for Toys

The Changing Palate

I have never imagined myself liking sake until I tried the Junmai Daiginjō-shu by chance. It’s the highest grade of sake rice wine. The grading is differentiate by the milling ratio of rice. The higher the ratio, the smoother and usually sweeter they can get. I like mine served cold. Combing with any assortment of Japanese grilled dishes or simply a bowl of edamame, it’s one of the best way of supper to end the day with. It’s just one example of how an unplanned experience can open up new doors in life. My palates are constantly changing just like how I have preference on wines and spirits. I used to only drink wines that mostly aged in oak for at least 6 months for what I thought an elaborate enjoyment. It’s until I tried a properly served daily/house wine (usually cheaper un-oaked wines). It goes down so well that it also matched the food on the table. Think about how much money can be saved, it’s 5 or 6 times the money.

Look back my photo archive, I realized so many posted images that I thought was great becomes average, and average becomes bad. Some even I wish to delete them straightaway. Many do not make sense anymore, not quite as intimate as before. There’s an era that I could even draw a line on. I just cannot look too far back in the past. I can pick out pieces of history but a photographer must look forward, look ahead of what’s coming.

Sometimes I feel the need of putting down my camera and phone, just let the city change a bit more. I’m always afraid of not investing enough time for photography, especially when I’d been expecting the spike in workload from my 9 to 6 during the week. The fact I found is, I could still produce without a dedicated time slot, although slower. I expected too much when I tried. Maybe I’m right about not seeing enough change around me in the city just yet. Just like how would there be any surprises when you see a movie twice. Or maybe like my palate, it’s really changing.

Winter Rain
the highest point to the farthest point
Away from the population
The Hong Kong subway Scene
Cage
Leaf
Very Dangerous
Dangerously Beautiful

The Real Exhibits

Just when I’m feeling very slow the past two months or so, I’ve received an email from the founder/editor of Master Kong Society; mentioning the opportunity of a photography exhibition from featured artists on the published Issue 1. When I heard it’d be showcasing at a shopping mall (K11 Art Mall) for a month, I was beyond believing. It’s a perhaps my first personal life accomplishment. Not that because people can see what we do, It’s just that; It’s live, hanging right there.

This small scale group photography exhibition treated the each piece like art, locked in a window showcase scattered on different levels of the mall, which there were 2 photographs were selected. The best thing about it is, the biography that goes with it. I must thank them again for typing the short bio. So at least someone gets the context of whom and what some of the locals like me are doing. Maybe it’s all the reason why there’s still many art galleries around even near where I live. There’re people who appreciate. This exhibition ‘Scenes of the City’ goes on until 3 Feb 2015.

Scenes of the City Exhibition