Hong Kong Yesterday: The Pearl of the Orient in the 1950s
In the early 1950s, Fan Ho, a 21-year-old writer and film student, began photographing Hong Kong — a city known in the West as the Pearl of the Orient — in a time of dizzying transformation. Bored by his studies, Ho turned to his camera as a source of entertainment and relief, exploring Hong Kong’s streets and making images that, seen a full seven decades later, somehow manage to mask any overt, telling signs of the era in which they were created.
Entering his pictures in a local photography contest, Ho was astonished when he was awarded the grand prize — a windfall that encouraged him to continue further exploring photography (and later, filmmaking) as his life’s calling. At last count — some 60 years after winning the contest— Ho has now won more than 280 awards, produced 20 feature length films and published numerous books of original photography.
Hong Kong Yesterday, now in its third printing through Modernbook Editions, chronicles Ho’s rambling voyages through the streets of Hong Kong. Shot in an era long before photographers could simply glance at their LCD screens to verify their intent in making a photo had been realized, Ho’s process of deliberate observation, waiting (sometimes for an entire day), composing, then recomposing is downright exhausting just to contemplate.
The layered black and white photographs of Hong Kong Yesterday are the visual diary of a patient observer; a diary that, save for the lack of diesel-spewing motorbikes, cell phones and neon advertisements, truly feels like it might have been written — and photographed — yesterday.
But then, that’s largely the point: at a time when the Hong Kong’s heartbeat was quickening to a frenetic, “modern” pace, Ho’s patient and deliberate method of working allowed him to see through the bustle and distractions to the true timelessness of place.
Each of Ho’s photographs represents immense planning and thought — not just about what the scene should look like, but how it should feel on film.
“I am a director,” Ho told TIME, explaining that the people — strangers and friends — around him are his actors. Sometimes directing friends into position, at other times relying on passersby or the occasional stray alley cat to hit a specific spot, in a specific way, Ho would wait (and wait some more) for the exact moment when a street scene’s essence revealed itself.
His work isn’t journalism; it’s Zen.
Fan Ho lives in California. Now in it’s third printing, Hong Kong Yesterday is available through Modernbook Editions in San Francisco.
Vaughn Wallace is the producer of LightBox. Follow him on Twitter @vaughnwallace.
Hong Kong Ranked Sixth Most Expensive City in Asia
Living in Hong Kong just got a little pricier.
In a list of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates, Hong Kong rose to 32nd place from 52nd in 2009, according to a report released Thursday.
ECA International, a consultancy that works with 1,500 multinational corporations, collected cost-of-living data of 400 cities world-wide, the results of which are used to help determine cost-of-living allowances for its clients. Japanese cities dominated the top of the list, largely because of the yen’s strength: Tokyo cinched the title as the most expensive city, from third place in 2009. Nagoya, Yokohama and Kobe came in third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Luanda, Angola, the most expensive city last year, dropped to second this year.
The report takes into consideration food, clothing and drink expenses for its rankings, but not rent since companies typically offer a separate housing allowance, ECA said.
Overall, Asian cities rose in rankings with the strengthening of some of its currencies, including the Korean won, Singapore dollar, Thai baht and Japanese yen. About 70% of the 50 Asian cities surveyed rose in world-wide rankings compared with last year. But as Asian cities remained strong on the list, European cities took a hit because of the weakening euro. Paris, for instance, fell to 24th this year from 16th last year.
Looking at Asian cities, Hong Kong dropped to sixth most expensive city in the region, from fifth last year. Seoul moved up to fifth place from seventh, largely due to the won rebounding, said Lee Quane, ECA’s Asia-Pacific regional director.
Singapore, on the other hand, inched up right behind Hong Kong, ranking No. 8 in Asia and No. 42 world-wide. Hong Kong’s cost-of-living difference was 15% higher than Singapore’s in 2008; in 2010, the difference is 2%.
A 2009 ECA report found Hong Kong in the top ranking of most expensive housing costs. Monthly rent for a three-bedroom apartment in an expat neighborhood in 2009 cost about US$9,100, compared with US$7,500 in New York and US$6,000 in London.
So is Hong Kong still attractive to companies?
Yes, said Mr. Quane. “There are cheaper locations in Asia where people can set up regional headquarters,” he said. “But there’s a reason why companies are still moving staff and regional operations to Hong Kong. It’s got a market here.”
與 1,500家跨國企業有合作關係的環球人力資源咨詢及顧問機構ECA International收集了世界上400個城市生活成本的數據﹐而調查結果可用來幫助其客戶確定應給員工發放多少生活補貼。日本城市在此次調查排名 中高居榜首。東京從2009年的第三上升至第一﹐成為世界上對海外僑民來說最昂貴的城市。名古屋、橫濱和神戶分別位居第三、第四和第五名。安哥拉首都羅安 達去年是全球最貴城市﹐今年落後一位﹐屈居第二。
由 於韓圓、新加坡元、泰銖和日圓等部分亞洲貨幣紛紛升值﹐因此亞洲城市在此次調查中的排名出現整體性上升。接受調查的50個亞洲城市中有約70%的排名較上 年有所提升。不過在亞洲城市在排行榜上依然為數眾多的同時﹐歐洲城市卻因為歐元走軟而受到一定影響。巴黎從去年排名第16下跌至今年第24位。