All images by Raymond Hau. Used with permission.
Raymond Hau is a Chartered Accountant from the United Kingdom now living in Hong Kong. He does not consider himself a photographer but enjoys taking photos–which he does incredibly well. His typical subjects are landscapes, cityscapes and building though he tends to add a mix of people, food, etc.
The photography bug bit him back in high school when he used to work in the darkroom after shooting with his Contax SLR and a 50mm lens. Like many artists, the photo enthusiast within him stayed dormant in college for other priorities to take over. When he got out, it reawakened within him.
So what makes Raymond so special? His incredible sense of symmetry, composition, and the scenes that he captures with a unique perspective.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography?
Raymond: I started out in photography as a teenager, my school had a dark room and I took an extra-curricular art course but was too impatient to draw or paint, I liked the relative immediacy of processing film. If I can remember, I was using a second hand Contax and 50mm lens. I stopped shooting when I went to university only rediscovering photography 6 years later in 2005 when I went digital.
Phoblographer: What attracts you to wide scenes like cities and urban areas?
Raymond: Cities and urban areas are always immediately available, easily accessible and can change character by day. Quite frankly I am probably drawn to them because of my ultra-relaxed nature, I can take a stroll, amble about and explore surroundings to see if I stumble across anything interesting. It’s relaxing, there’s never any rush and it suits my style of photography; half the time I go out I may not fire off a single shot finding no inspiration along the way, other times I’ll bookmark a location to return at a different time of day or weather and sometimes, something interesting will find me.
Phoblographer: How do you go about finding the scenes that you shoot? Do you just aimlessly wander?
Raymond: I always look for inspiration from other people’s photography and I am an avid follower of sites such as Flickr and 500px looking for ideas. What has changed my style of photography most in recent years and subsequently how I go about finding scenes to shoot was the discovery of the Sony RX1, I carried that thing everywhere and as a result was always on the lookout for a good scene to capture.
Phoblographer: What are your favorite times of day/night to shoot? Why?
Raymond: I don’t have a particular favorite time of day; golden hour is always good, the night is always fun for a bit of long exposure and I am too lazy to catch the rising sun. What I look out for most is weather. The weather dictates the scene, cloud cover, drizzle, diffused sunlight, thunderstorm, moody mist and so on. Nothing is worse than finding an amazing landscape scene during a perfectly bright, blue skied sunny summer’s day; what tends to happen is that I end up with a postcard or a travel brochure shot.
Phoblographer: What’s your editing process like? That is to say how do you choose what images go on your Tumblr and what kind of edits do you usually make?
Raymond: My workflow is very simple but I do post process almost every shot I post, that is with the recent exception of Fuji JPGs, they are very good to the point I shoot RAW+JPG when shooting Fuji because sometimes the JPG is all I need. With my other cameras I shoot RAW only.
All my processing is performed within Adobe Lightroom, my editor of choice because it’s easy to use and does most things I need it to. I am very much a follower of the idiom that you ‘make an image, not take an image’ and so I use all Lightroom tools at my disposal as needed. Sometimes I edit a lot and sometimes I don’t, it all depends on the particular image.
I mostly select images to post to my Tumblr based on what I would like to see. Tumblr serves as a dual purpose tool for me: 1. It ensures I keep on shooting and growing, giving me reason to experiment and shoot and tells me what works and what doesn’t because I am still finding my style, 2. It helps me with my ultimate goal of printing coffee table books and large wall prints for myself, family and friends. The more popular an image, the more likely I’ll include it in a book or wall print in my home.
Phoblographer: It looks like you’ve travelled often. What cities do you think are the most beautiful?
Raymond: I’ve travelled to a few places and it’s difficult to pick one as a favourite. For land, cityscapes and urban areas however, it probably has to be my current home town of Hong Kong. It’s new and it’s old, one can get very high up and can explore the down streets below, there are country parks, lakes, the sea and then there are glass towers, concrete jungles and everything in between. I shoot Hong Kong a lot but then I am biased because I live near the centre and it’s easy to explore but there are definitely many more places I would love to visit.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.
Raymond: I shoot with a Fujifilm X-T1, Sony RX1 and Sony A7R and predominantly prime lenses. Using primes ensures I am focused and disciplined and suits my relaxed style, they are smaller and lighter and requires less thinking, I have one focal length and that’s it. The X-T1 is almost perfect, the RX1 is perfect (well…) and the A7R will be soon gone in favour for its newer brother the A7R Mark 2. After using my trusty Canon 350D for 7 years I am looking for that Goldilocks set-up that would last another 7, I’m expecting the switch to the A7R Mark 2 would be it.
Phoblographer: It looks like in order to get some of the images that you take, you need to do some sneaking into places. Is that so? Have you ever had any scary experiences?
Raymond: Actually not much, in Hong Kong there are many places which are open to the public and by that I mean you can just walk up off the street, up an elevator and out an open door onto rooftops. I actually haven’t been to any places in which I needed to explicitly sneak into. What you will find is that Hong Kong people are pragmatic and less rigid following rules, roof tops at a lot of places are easily accessible even if they should technically be off limits, because residents of these blocks will keep doors open or unlocked for quick and easy smoking breaks access.
Phoblographer: What’s the ultimate end goal for you and your photography? What are you trying to accomplish?
Raymond: I’m not really trying to accomplish anything more than finding ways to improve my photography, for my own sake and if others can enjoy the ride then all the better. Along the way, they can help me pick out images for my coffee table book.