PERFECT LIGHT

The serenity of Hong Kong before it became a financial hub, by master photographer Fan Ho

Hong Kong wasn’t always a concrete jungle packed with 80-story skyscrapers. During the 1950s and ’60s, Fan Ho, one of Asia’s most acclaimed masters of photography, captured a different kind of life in the city through his Rolleiflex lenses. Ho passed away last Sunday (June 19) at 84 years old in San Jose, California.

Ho’s renowned black and white photography captures fleeting light, lines, and silhouettes, and reveals urban Hong Kong before it became Asia’s financial center. Women in cheongsam dresses strolling along wet market stalls, fishermen rowing a sampan in Victoria Harbor’s morning mist, a ray of light cast upon a studious child in a narrow alleyway: These are the nostalgic scenes that remind us of Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love.

A Day is Done, 1957
A Day is Done, 1957 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
Different Directions, 1958
Different Directions, 1958 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
Construction, 1957
Construction, 1957 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
Les Miserables, 1963
Les Misérables, 1963 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
White Windows, 1962
White Windows, 1962 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
Her study, 1963
Her study, 1963 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
Pattern, 1956
Pattern, 1956 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
Approaching Shadow, 1954
Approaching Shadow, 1954 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)
East meets West, 1963
East meets West, 1963 (Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects)

Fan Ho, a Shanghai native, arrived in Hong Kong as a teenager in 1949. He taught himself photography with a camera gifted by his father. He also directed a number of movies between late 1970 and 1990, at the heyday of Hong Kong cinema.

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