Hong Kong Madness

Photography in Hong Kong is a perfect way to get run over… Quite literally speaking and in a more metaphorical sense. Traffic is madness and visual impressions are overwhelming. Hong Kong is an overload of people, sights, sounds and smells.

A must do in Hong Kong

The best advice I have for visitors (photographers as well as tourists) to Hong Kong is: Buy an Octopus card as soon as you picked up your bagage.  It is a travel card, but is also so much more. You can use it in any metro, bus, ferrys or tram. You can pay in super markets, restaurants, tourist sights (and get discounts compared to paying in cash). Only draw back, is you have to top it up with cash only. Other than that it’s quite handy. Bonus information: Google Maps directions using public transportation is very accurate.

Also there are some significant photographic sights that everybody seems to go to (me included). Photography in Hong Kong is difficult without documenting the residential areas. Just search Instagram for the hashtag #residensity and you will see a bit off what is in store for you. As a motif they are great. As a place of living… that is more difficult to say. As an architect the density, proximity and scale of this type of living is astounding. I kind of understand why they have to plan and construct living areas and housing like this. But I am not at all certain that it makes for good urban life, good family life or urban environment (air quality is generally quite poor…).

Air quality Hong Kong, Travel
Not healthy!
Photography in Hong Kong – Shooting wild

Photography in Hong Kong is like using a machine gun. Have your trigger finger ready, battery loaded and enough memory cards (if you are not shooting analogue that is…). What did I do? Well… I did not have any particular focus. I generally photograph street and architecture so I could definitely keep myself busy during my visit to Hong Kong and here I display way more photos than I usually do.

Random Recommendations

I did visit a lot of different tourist stuff. Here is a small list of what I really liked and what I think is a tourist trap.

Tourist traps:

  • Taking the Peak Tram. Just take a bus to the Peak, the tram is not a big deal and the waiting line is too long for the 8-10 minute ride.
  • The Big Buddha on the Lantau Island is nice enough, but the “village” you arrive at with the cable car is a theater set.
  • Boat ride from Tai O to see the white Chinese dolphins (there are only about 60 left in the area, so chances are slim of seeing one).
  • Ladies market is just a junk market… Crowded and no charm.
  • Macau… Sorry to say, very much like Hong Kong – slightly different urban fabric. The old part of town is a tourist hell. The casino areas are just like Las Vegas (And I do not like Las Vegas!).

Nice things:

  • F22 Foto Space and the F11 Foto Museum are really nice.
  • Trams on the Hong Kong Island. Cheap and quite nice sitting in the double decker watching the busy street life.
  • Catch an evening of horse racing in Happy Valley, Hong Kong Jockey Club. Spectacular race track with the urban residential blocks as a back drop. You can even place a bet if yo want! 🙂
  • Mong Kok area is a crazy neighborhood and what I think might be very authentic Hong Kong area.
  • The Hong Kong National Cultural Centre is a very photogenic building with tiles, sharp angles, stairs and massive scale and when the sun casts harsh shadows it gets even better.
  • The small second hand camera store HK Camera is not the biggest, but the one with very fair prices.
Closing remarks

Photography in Hong Kong is a buzzing, noisy and crowded experience. It’s very photogenic and you will have endless motifs if you visit. So many people are running around with a cameras, selfie sticks and generally just very occupied looking in their mobile phones. Do people notice you snapping a frame – do they mind? Hard to tell actually. Two ways to go: Show your camera, make eye contact and smile or be the candid photographer. I do not know what will serve you best…

What is your advice to surviving Hong Kong? Leave a comment 🙂

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