Hong Kong Photographer’s Cinematic-Style Photos Evoke Nostalgia

Hong Kong street vendor
Hong Kong street vendor

A retired film director and actor, Hong Kong street photographer Fan Ho’s mastery of natural light creates a mood and drama in his photos that resemble film sets from a past era.

Hong Kong Venice
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Taken during the 1950’s and 60’s, Ho’s images captured the transition of this iconic Asian city while it was in the midst of transitioning from old to new.

Silhouetted construction workers in Hong Kong
Silhouetted construction workers in Hong Kong

Immigrating to Hong Kong from Shanghai with his family at a young age, Ho began documenting Hong Kong with a Rolleiflex camera his father purchased for his. Largely self-taught. Ho began by developing his images in the family bathtub, eventually building a large collection of urban street photos.

Left: woman against large wallRight: pedestrians climbing stairs
Left: woman against large wall Right: pedestrians climbing stairs

According to Ho, he always looked for the lighting and composition to fall into place when shooting his street photos.

Cleaning woman dusting venetian blinds
Cleaning woman dusting venetian blinds

In addition to his successful career as a film director, first for Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers and later as an independent director, Ho’s photography has won him almost 300 international awards.

Smokey World, 1959
People in indoor stairwell

Fan Ho died of pneumonia on 19 June, 2016 at the age of 84.

Some of The Best Places to Photograph Tokyo

Tokyo Night Skyline
Skyline of Tokyo by night

Tokyo offers a mix of traditional and ultra-modern. This gives the visiting photographer some great choices. Even visitors with time constraints have a variety of locations to choose from.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Crowds at Shibuya Scramble Crossing

Shibuya Crossing is not to be missed. The world’s busiest pedestrian crossing (with an estimated one million people crossing the street here everyday), this ‘scramble’ crosswalk offers a unique photographic experience. Trying to figure out how to best capture the waves of humanity going through the crosswalks is every photographer’s challenge.

The Meiji Shrine
Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Japan’s Emperor Meiji. The shrine complex is located with 170 acres of forested land in downtown Shibuya. This is a spectacular setting to capture some photos depicting traditional Japan.

 

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As a hub for entertainment, business, and shopping, Shinjuku ward in the evening is the perfect location to capture great photos of modern Tokyo with its multitude of neon lights.

Asakusa, Sensoø-ji in the rain
Sensoø-ji temple in the rain at night, Asakusa, Tokyo

Sensō-ji Temple, Tokyo’s most popular Buddhist temple, is a wonderful place for photographing traditional Japanese architecture. The famous temple gates, Kaminarimon and Hozomon, the five-storey pagoda, and the temple itself will make it easy to fill your camera’s memory card.

Gundam in Odaiba
Massive statue of Gundam in the evening at Odaiba, Tokyo

Odaiba is an entertainment and shopping mecca located on a man-made island. There are wonderful views of Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge, making the area particularly ideal for taking pictures of the night skyline of Tokyo. The area is also famous for it’s massive Gundam statue.

Many first-time travellers to Asia, particularly those on business, have asked about easily accessible photo opportunities in the cities they visit. This post is part of an ongoing series, each on a different Asian city, introducing a few photo locations for visitors with limited time.

Loss of Personal Identities is Highlighted by Young Cambodian Photographer

Cambodian photographer: Neak Sophal
Cambodian photographer: Neak Sophal

A former student of Studio Images (the only place that provides education in photography and image in Cambodia) and a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodian photographer Neak Sophal explores the issue of identity in contemporary Cambodian society.

From the series 'Behind'
From the series ‘Behind’

Neak’s exploratory work includes several including ‘Behind’ a collection of photos taken on the streets in which the subject practice self-censorship by showing their backs to the camera instead of revealing their faces and identity, and a series entitled Cham Norng (‘Thread’) where she used string to emphasize the ties of the present to the past.

From the series 'Thread': Left: 'Champa' / Right: 'Piss and Drink'
From the series ‘Thread’: Left: ‘Champa’ / Right: ‘Piss and Drink’

The photographer next moved her focus to the city, where she asked everyday people to pose for her in the street, hiding their faces behind an object that characterizes them. In most cases, the object tended to be related to their work.

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The subjects of Neak’s photos – whether a construction worker, a merchant, or a monk for example – ultimately lose their personal identity behind the object the selected to pose behind.

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The purpose of Neak’s documentary series is to demonstrate how individuals disappear behind their function in society. The photos in the collection have a strange, yet lasting, impression.

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July Photo Opportunity: Naadam, an Explosion of Mongolian Energy!

Naadam Festival parade
Openning parade of the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Pack your camera gear and travel to Mongolia to experience the Naadam Festival. Naadam is a major holiday in Mongolia and the perfect time to experience the culture and people of this amazing country.

 

Mongolian wrestlers at Naadam Festival
Mongolian wrestlers at Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Photo courtesy of LiveFromUB)

Naadam is held annually in July in Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar, and draws thousands of spectators..

Horseback riders at Naadam Festival
Horseback riders at Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

A photographer’s dream, Naadam’s opening ceremony features marches and music from soldiers, monks and athletes before the commencement of the main sporting events.

Horseback riders at Naadam Festival
Horseback riders at Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Naadam’s origins reach back to Mongolia’s traditional military activities, which is why Mongolian wresting, horse racing and archery are the highlights of the 2-day festivities.

Crowds at the Naadam Festival
Crowds at the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

While not one of the easiest festivals to reach, Naadam’s colourful athletes and spectators offer spectacular photo opportunities, and is definitely worth the extra effort to attend. With planning, and a bit of luck, you’ll be able to capture some memorable photos at this unique festival.

Japanese Photographer Fits Huge Imagination In Tiny Worlds

'Flower Bed'
‘Flower Bed’

Japanese artist, Tatsuya Tanaka, believes everyone has sometimes imagined that leaves floating on water looked like little boats, or that broccoli or parsley resembled a tiny forest. A desire to express such imaginings through photos inspired him to put together his ‘Miniature Calendar’ project – where he posts a new photo every day.

'Make-Believe Play'
‘Make-Believe Play’

The photographs in Tanaka’s project primarily depict surreal worlds by using miniature human figures surrounded by everyday object such as plastic straws, food, circuit boards and more.

'Footprints'
‘Footprints’

Despite the tiny proportions of the worlds he creates, they’re definitely big on imagination. The fact that Tanaka has been continuing this project for 5 years is a testament to his ongoing imagination and creativity.

'Prison Break'
‘Prison Break’

Tanaka is a great example of how a photographer can create outstanding photography that is fun, and that engages its audience on all levels.

'Shipment'
‘Shipment’

With a large number of faithful followers, Tanaka continues to post new photos on his website on a daily basis (http://miniature-calendar.com).

 

Photography’s Beginnings in India

Dancing girls from Madras taken by Nicholas & Curths
Indian dancing girls from Madras taken by Nicholas & Curths in 1870

Photography came to India around 1840, just as photography was replacing painting as the new mode of recording the world.

In the early years, almost all the photos taken in India were linked to the British colonial regime – either by subject, or by photographer. The photographers mainly were English civil servants in the colonial government, or employees of the British East India Company (colloquially known as ‘John Company’). Some were employed specifically to take photographs, while others were amateurs.

Photography was also considered by the East India Company to be the most accurate and economical means of recording architectural and archaeological monuments for official records. The company actively encouraged the employees to photograph, and record archaeological sites.

Although they were a tiny minority of the population, it was the English in India who also first formed the major market for photography in India. Many individual bought photographs as a visual record of their experiences in India, which at the end of their tour of duty they would take back to their home country to show their family and friends.

No definitive record of when the first photograph was taken in India exists, but it’s generally agreed that the first commercial photograph taken in India dates from 1844.

The first photographic societies of India were found in 1854 in Bombay and 1857 in Bengal and Madras.

Native Nautch at Delhi (or Shalimar?), 1864 by Samuel Bourne
Native Nautch in Delhi, India, 1864 by Samuel Bourne

Indians were also quick to learn how to take photos. The first to learn were probably those employed by European photographers as assistants. These Indian photographers began by taking photos for India’s upper classes. There was a growing demand among wealthy Indians for photos, and local studios were soon set up to meet this demand.

The first Indian photographer whose name is recorded is Nawab Ahmed Ali Khan of Lucknow. However, it’s not exactly clear when he started taking photos. Estimates range between 1845 and 1850. The earliest existing photo taken by Khan is dated 1855

By 1855, a course in photography had been established at the Madras School of Industrial Art to teach photography to Indian students.

Photo by Dr. Narain Dajee
Photo by Dr. Narain Dajee

The quick growth of photography amongst Indians can be seen by inclusion of 30 photographs by Dr Narain Dajee (a professional photographer, and a council member of the Bombay Photographic Society) in the 1857 exhibition by the Photographic Society of Bengal. Dajee’s photos differed from his British counterparts in that they included images of fakirs, snake charmers, musicians, soldiers and other Indians.

As Indian photographers began establishing successful studios, most of them made the majority of their money through commissions from affluent Indian families. However, a few Indian photographers also began selling their work to both the aristocratic families of India as well as to the British civil servants serving the British Raj. Lala Deen Dayal (also known as Raja Deen Dayal) was one of the most successful*.

*Stay tuned… a post on Lala Deen Dayal will be coming soon!

Korean Photographer Creates Imaginary Worlds In Her Tiny Studio

JeeYoung Lee
Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee was born in 1983, and earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Seoul’s Hongik University. Since 2007, Lee has been shooting whimsical images that represent either her experiences, dreams and memories, or represent traditional Korean folk tales and legends.

Seeing Lee’s work for the first time, most viewers will presume her colorful, fantasy world images are the product of a large amount of digital manipulation. Yet each of her photos is created through the meticulous construction of elaborate sets by the artist herself, rather than use of Photoshop. In the middle of each image you can always find the artist herself, as Lee’s work is a type of unconventional self-portraiture.

"Resurrection"
“Resurrection” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

In “Resurrection” Lee appears inside a lotus portraying rebirth. The image references Shim Cheongin, a Korean fable about a girl who throws herself into the sea and comes back to life inside a blooming lotus. Lee created this dreamlike image by painting paper lotus and flooding the room with fog and carbonic ice.

What boggles the mind is that Lee creates all the scenes in her images by hand – in a tiny studio that measures a mere 3.6 x 4.1 x 2.4 meters. Starting with an idea born in her imagination, Lee will labor for weeks, sometimes months, constructing a surreal set for the sake of taking a single photograph. For each of her photographs the artist fills every square inch of space with hand-made props, set pieces, and backdrops

When the set is complete, Lee inserts herself in the scene and then takes multiple test shots. After carefully examining the test shots and making any adjustments she deems necessary, Lee takes the final shot with a 4×5 large format film camera. Lee then disassembles the set once the final photograph is produced.

"Treasure Hunt"
“Treasure Hunt” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

To create “Treasure Hunt”, Lee devoted three months to crafting the wire grassland, which carpets her studio to evoke a child-like wonderland. She spent nearly eight hours a day weaving bits of craft wire to a mesh screen to complete the grass flooring.

Lee’s avoidance of the use of Photoshop is based on her belief that the building and breaking-down of the set is an integral part of her artwork. She only uses Photoshop when she has suspended objects from the ceiling of her studio, in which case she uses the program to erase the fishing lines used for suspension.

My Chemical Romance
“My Chemical Romance” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

“My Chemical Romance” with its maze of pipes and yellow & black danger tape, Lee depicts the anxiety and disappointments felt by herself or those around her, and how they can lead to conflict and clashes of personality.

Lee is unique in that in addition to the role of photographer, she also assumes the roles of set designer, sculptor, installation artist, and performer. The results are magical, as can be seen in this small selection of a few of her work.

"Panic Room"
“Panic Room” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

“Panic Room” shows the artist hiding herself inside a cupboard to protect and shelter herself from the confusion outside – symbolized by the dizzying atmosphere Lee created by bending the perspective in her studio. (For

Recipient of multiple artistic awards, JeeYoung Lee is recognized as one of the most promising up-and-coming artists in Korea. Her work has also received extensive coverage outside her home country by global news outlets such as Huffington Post, NBC news, CNN international, France 3 National news, China Daily, etc. as well as on various art/photo websites.

When Shooting Against The Light Makes Sense – Creating Silhouettes

Thai dancer silhouette
Veiled Thai dancer silhouetted against the light

Ever taken a photo of someone only to discover the result is a photo of a black outline of your subject against a bright background? Congratulations! You’ve just taken a silhouette photo!

After making this mistake several times, most of us quickly learn not to shoot directly into the sun. As a matter of fact, we’re told to keep the sun behind us. But purposely taking silhouettes can be fun and result in some dramatic images. So, rather than ‘fix’ our mistake, why not learn how to use it to our advantage?

Silhouettes are commonly caused when your camera adjusts exposure to the bright background, rather than on your subject.

Samples of Silhouette Photography
Two silhouette photos

Due to their simplicity, silhouettes are a wonderful way to convey drama and mystery in a photo. Best of all, they’re really quite simple to create. Basically, you’ll want to place your subject in front of a strong source of light. Doing so will cause your subject to be underexposed to the point of being very dark, if not black, against the lighter-colored background.

You can create a silhouette of almost anything, but to be successful, it’s important to choose something with a distinct, recognizable shape. Put some thought into choosing your subject beforehand, and try to imagine what the resulting shot will look like.

Lampost silhouettes
Lamp posts silhoueted against the sky

Location is also an important consideration when photographing silhouettes. When choosing a location to shoot, try to ensure that you have a lot of open space. The goal is to avoid extraneous elements that could clutter your shot, and distract from your subject.

Perhaps most important of all, you need to make sure that you have more light behind your subject than in front of it. The easiest way to start is by placing your subject directly in front of a strong light source – the sun, a lit window, or even a lamp. However, your subject doesn’t necessarily have to be directly in front of a light source. What’s important is ensuring they’re positioned so that they truly stand out from the background.

B&W Boat Hulls
Silhouette of boat hulls in black & white

Finally, to produce the best silhouette shots, make sure your subject is in focus. This will ensure that the edges of the silhouette are crisp and distinct.

Talented Malaysian Fashion Photographer Is On The Rise

Bibo Aswan - freelance fashion photographer
Bibo Aswan – freelance fashion photographer

A self-confessed introvert, Malaysian photographer Bibo Aswan is modest about his successes as a fashion photographer. However, his photographs – edgy, loud, and bold – are in complete contrast with his quiet personality.

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Bibo’s says his preferred subjects are models as he finds something compelling and interesting about human movement, as well as the dynamic shapes and strong features of the models.

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While pursuing a diploma in photography at Limkokwing University, Bibo created his initial portfolio by using the other students as his models. He then used social media to post his photos and expose his work to the masses. This successfully led to people contacting him asking for quotes and requesting him to shoot their collection – launching his career.

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Having his work featured in a number of renowned local publications quickly gained him industry-wide attention and built his reputation as a hard-working photographer with a creative flair.

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Bibo has become one of Malaysia’s preferred photographers to shoot fashion editorial spreads.

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June Photo Opportunity: Korea’s Most Popular Festival

Lights at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Lights at Gangneung Danoje Festival during night

Korea’s annual Gangneung Danoje (The Gangneung Danoje Festival) is one of the most popular holidays in the nation, and a great time to capture photos of Korean culture.The festival takes place annually the fifth day of the fifth month in the town of Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Korea.

Masked Dancers at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Masked Dancers at Gangneung Danoje Festival

The Gangneung Danoje Festival features traditional games and activities that provides photographers with myriad opportunities for photos.

Women washing hair at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Women washing hair at Gangneung Danoje Festival

The festival include folk games such as the swing and ssireum (Korean wrestling), and other practices such as washing one’s hair in sweet Iris-infused water, eating surichwi tteok (rice cakes made with marsh plant), making Dano fans, and decorating masks.

Male dancer at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Male dancer at Gangneung Danoje Festival

Gangneung Danoje’s roots lie in the worship of the guardian spirit of the mountain that protects the town, and to pray for the peace and prosperity of all families living in the town.

Traditional dancers at the Gangneung Danoje Festival
Traditional dancers performing at the Gangneung Danoje Festival