PHOTO News Image Hong Kong Project | Michael DeFreitas
Hong Kong: “Simply Surprising”

Instantly recognizable by its world-famous skyline, Hong Kong is one of the most exciting and photogenic cities in the world. With its glimmering skyline, eclectic night markets, neon cluttered streets, picturesque harbour, secluded hilltop temples, laidback out islands and its peaceful bucolic countryside, you’ll find surprising photo opportunities everywhere in this culturally diverse and colourful destination.

I love photographing people going about their daily life and there are no better places to do this than in Hong Kong’s local markets. These bustling oases of commerce, tucked amid the towering skyline, provide a peek into Hong Kong’s fascinating melting-pot culture and people.

Over the years, I have found that people usually alter their behaviour when someone points a big obvious and intrusive lens in their direction. That’s why I opt for a wide-angle lens (14mm-24mm) so I can get close to the action without intimidating anyone. I seldom bring the camera up to my eye, relying instead on wide-angle close-ups to record the scene. I usually wrap the camera strap around my wrist and shoot from a low angle, pointing at the products while still including the people.

When language permits, I always try to communicate with my subjects (English is widely spoken in Hong Kong). Showing an interest in a vendor’s product or a buyer’s purchase generally puts them more at ease, resulting in more natural looking photos. Wide-angle lenses work great for close-up shots of food, jade charms, calligraphy brushes, prayer tags and other detail-worthy subjects.

One of my favourite spots for photographing people was the small fish market on Nelson Street. A few steps from my hotel (Cordis Hong Kong at Langham Place), it hums with activity all day. I struck up a conversation with one of the fish vendors and before I knew it, I was getting a lesson on fish identification and some cheesy posed shots. After establishing a friendly connection it was easy to get more spontaneous shots around his stall. Other people photography hotspots include the Ladies and Goldfish Markets on Tung Choi Street, the indoor Jade Market on Battery Street, and the Flower and Bird Markets near Flower Market Road.

I love Hong Kong because it stimulates all of my senses. With glittering neon-studded skyline, the delicious aromas, colourful temples, and fascinating markets, it’s like three or four great cities rolled into one. I can’t wait for my next visit!