Hong Kong In The 1950s – Through The Lens Of A Teenage Street Photographer

Street photography has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, but fortunately many photographers have been capturing everyday life for decades – freezing moments in time which would otherwise have been lost.

The streets, filled with vendors, coolies and rickshaw drivers, fascinated Ho, who arrived from Shanghai in 1949. Taking pictures in a studio was the norm then, but the teenager was more interested in random, candid shots of strangers – armed with his Rollieflex camera.

In a recent interview with the South China Morning Post Fan Ho explained more about his background, his motivation and his experiences and how not everyone took warmly to his picture taking:

“With a knife in his hand, a pig butcher said he would chop me. He wanted his spirit back,” Ho recalled, explaining that superstition had it that a person would have his spirit captured by the camera….”

Having spent over 10 years living in Hong Kong, I could often see glimpses of how the place once looked, but so much has been swept away in the drive for modernity and profit.

But when Ho Fan took up street photography in the 1950s, Central was still a poor neighbourhood with shabby houses and dirty alleys. Fan Ho managed to capture Hong Kong just before the pace of change quickened.

Further Reading:

Prints + Books: Modern Book Store

Fan Ho Website: Fan Ho Photography

The marvellous pictures below give a taste of Hong Kong in the 1950’s and the unique talent of Fan Ho:



Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 1

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 2

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 3

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Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 5

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 11

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 14

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 1

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 2

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 3

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 4

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 5

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 6

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 7

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir 8

Fan Ho Photo A Hong Kong Memoir

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