Saturday, 20 March 2010

Put down that camera

No, it's not me being told off for photographing in public, after all, I am not in England anymore where you could get arrested for photographing your own child in the park.

This is me telling all the budding photographers here to put down that damn camera. I have never realised how into photography people are in Hong Kong. The amount of gear on display in a single playground here probably cost more than my mortgage. Except the majority of them (don't get me wrong, there are some really good photographers here too) don't seem to know what to photograph with their Leica or their Canon Image stabilising lens. So they are snapping away like headless chickens.

Going to the playground with my girls could be so annoying sometimes. Parents are more keen to take the perfect photo of their child than to let them play and they mean business. They make Britney Spear's paparazzi look like friendly fluffy bunnies. Posing, reposing and reposing again with the v sign, just push that bloody swing and let them enjoy themselves. And they have no reservations about taking pictures of my kids. Not that I am a paranoid parent but could they at least ask for permission first.

I went to a really interesting exhibition last week where local artists took over an old police accommodations building. Many of the rooms were used for installations. The part I like best were inspired by traditional and independent businesses in Hong Kong. But I swear, I was the only person there without a camera. No one paid any attention to the art at all, only what picture they can take for themselves. Most of them packed enough for a National Geographical assignment. Maybe if they actually look at the art on display, they might get inspired and find something they want to photograph, rather than just blindly snapping away.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Queen Victoria, Chairman Mao and Me

This is the title of the new project that I am shooting in Hong Kong at the moment. This temporary relocation to Hong Kong has been on the cards for several years. I have wanted to spend at least six months here ever since my first daughter was born. We are doing it so that she would at least pick up some Cantonese before she starts school.

It was what I was going to do while I am here that was the hard part. I have had several years to think about this, which is never good. 'Great ideas' became 'what was I thinking ideas'. In the end, I decided that this six months will be a pure indulgence and I will do a project that I truly wanted to do, something that is close to my heart.

The project will be about Hong Kong and it's history, told only through my family history. It far more difficult to shoot than it sounds since the government and the developers here have little sentiment. Buildings get knocked down hastily with no desire to preserve any history. As I don't want to use too many old photographs in the project, which means I have set myself difficult challenges of visualising history with very little actual objects or places to photograph.

I have been here six weeks now and found out more about my ancestors than I have in the previous 32 years of my life. That's itself has been worth doing the project. I will be posting more entries from now on. I do have the perfect excuse for being lazy though as my laptop die on me a few weeks ago and I didn't fancy typing on my ipod.

To sign off, I wanted to share a picture of my Grandfather. It's the picture he sent to my grandmother via the matchmaker prior to their first meeting. He is the slick dude on the left, on the right was the most gormless guy he could find, whom he dragged along to the shoot in order to look better. I think Danny Devito would look good next to him.