Fan Ho’s Hong Kong

Fan Ho is a photographer, film director and actor. Born in Shanghai, now living in San Jose, and still alive and strong at age 77, he has been winning awards (some 280 of them) for his work since the 1950s. At an early age he moved to Hong Kong with his family. There he documented daily life throughout the 1950s and 1960s in beautiful, even haunting images, with striking contrasts of light and shadow. Most of those images were developed in the family bathtub. His photographs tend to focus on Hong Kong’s back streets, markets, and alleys. As you can see in the examples below, the images are exquisite; you can see more at the Bored Panda website (from which the four images below were drawn).

In the early 1960s he became associated with the famous Shaw Brothers movie empire. Starting as an actor and assistant, he eventually had a chance to direct. Through the late 1980s he made some twenty films for the Shaw Brothers and other studios, some of which were selected for screening at festivals like Cannes and Berlin.

But most would agree that it is his photographs that have had the most lasting impact. In recent years he has revisited his old negatives, exploring combining two images in montage and processing the result digitally. Many of those are featured in the book Fan Ho: A Hong Kong Memoir, as well as an exhibition of the same name that is on display through January 31 at the Modernbook Gallery (49 Geary Street, fourth floor) in San Francisco.

Fan Ho 1

Fan Ho 2

Fan Ho 5

Fan Ho 3

Sources:
Bored Panda: “1950s Hong Kong Captured In Street Photography By Fan Ho”
San Francisco Examiner: “Fan Ho photos bring mid-century Hong Kong to life” by Anita Katz
Modernbook Gallery: Fan Ho: A Hong Kong Memoir
Fan Ho Photography website
Fan Ho Wikipedia entry

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