I love people-watching, especially in large cities bustling with life. However, I have yet to get a hang of street photography, and I often don’t feel comfortable with photographing people in public. During my most recent trip to Asia, which was in April this year, several occasions presented themselves as perfect street photography opportunities. And so I gave them a shot (pun mostly unintended). Hong Kong, Cheung Chau, and Guangzhou are places with different characteristics yet each full of interesting people, so whom did I encounter in the heart of the cities? (Coloured versions of these photos are available by clicking links at the end of the descriptions.)
Modern, dynamic, glamorous, exciting – these are all words worthy of describing Hong Kong, a booming metropolis in the center of East Asia. What ultimately attracted me about Hong Kong – and I never liked to admit that I actually LIKED Hong Kong – were not the suits and ties, the fast-paced lifestyle, or the skyscrapers that hid the skies. Rather, I enjoyed observing the ordinary everyday lives of the locals, savouring the small yet irresistible joys of street food, and getting lost in a sea of people trying to find their way, just like me. Hong Kong has many sides, and what will you find in its people?
I took a swift shot of this elderly gentleman as he walked past me, not looking too pleasant – hopefully not because I was taking a photo of him. The sharp look in his eyes seemed to be able to pierce through even the most rigid of souls. (Click to view photo in colour.)
If I remember correctly, this photo was taken on Temple Street. The owner of this booth was catching up on current affairs (or celebrity gossip) while anticipating customers to visit. (Click to view photo in colour.)
The look on the face of the man in the back was an unplanned and serendipitous catch and certainly made me chuckle. The interesting part is trying to figure out what he caught his attention and prompted him to make such an amusing expression 😛 (Click to view photo in colour.)
The lady in the middle looked like she was about to attack me Please forgive me, I will run away now! (Click to view photo in colour.)
Cheung Chau, one of the outlying islands in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, is not a “large city” as I had initially implied, but it is reasonable to put it under the “Hong Kong” category. The fishing village was the destination of a day trip during my stay in Hong Kong. Life on an island may be very different from that in an international metropolis half an hour away by boat, but people are the same everywhere, with the same day-to-day responsibilities, the same behaviours, the same emotions…
Time and age adorn the face of this merchant of dried seafood and seafood products. I wonder how much business she gets in one day… (Click to view photo in colour.)
You can’t really see this young man’s face, but he was cute, believe me! ^_^ Of course I was too shy to ask him if I could take a photo of him directly, so I only did so when he was pouring me a delicious self-made “ice-dripped” coffee. Teehee, so adorable ^_^ (Click to view photo in colour.)
Ordinary people living ordinary lives, doing what they routinely do every day for a living. Here it seemed like a lady was packaging dried fish while talking to an older lady. (Click to view photo in colour.)
The biggest reason for going to Cheung Chau was to EAT a lot of good food, which was far from scarce given the many local restaurants that lined the streets and alleys of the village. Seafood? Gimme gimme more! (Click to view photo in colour.)
Guangzhou, the third largest city in China (I think), was my hometown. Exponential development means that every time I go back (every three or four years), things have undergone rapid change to a point where I don’t recognize anything anymore. Yet, no matter how the streets and buildings may change, the Cantonese people and culture remain the same. But hey, perhaps you’d rather read about the amazing Cantonese food experience instead…? 😉
Amidst the people traversing the city, through an old, narrow street of Guangzhou, this young woman goes about her daily errands on two wheels. (Click to view photo in colour.)
Outside the Nanyue Kingdom Palace Museum, two elderly men were chilling in the park. I wonder if that was the stare of “HEY! No unauthorized photos allowed!” (Click to view photo in colour.)
Epilogue: What is “human touch”? I often ask myself this question, and the answer becomes clearer when I immerse myself in interaction with the people that touch my life, even if for only a split second. In turn, people-watching is always an interesting experience because ordinary passersby expose the truest side of life, either in the places in which we live or those to which we travel. On seemingly bland and expressionless faces, one blink of an eye or the sign of a smile can narrate the tale of a person. And we will never fully understand another person’s story, but through seeing, observing, and feeling, then perhaps one day we will recognize that we are all one and the same, living in this vast, dynamic world that we call “home”.