Wong Wei-Him Shares His Connection with Hong Kong’s Iconic Harbor

All images and words by Wong Wei-Him. Used with permission.

My name is Wong Wei-Him, and I’m a street photographer and architect based Hong Kong, and founder of In-between design office.

I used to take photos as inspiration for my design projects, and I always carry my camera wherever I go, looking for beautiful architecture, spaces and details. It wasn’t until I came across the magnificent works of Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt and Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi — so peculiar the way they look at culture and humanity — that I decided to make street photography a second passion of my life.

I use a Leica M6 with 35mm f2 / Leica M240 with 50mm f2. The film I use is either Kodak Portra 160 or Portra 400.

Why did you get into photography?

At the very beginning, I saw architecture as form of art. But once I started to practice, I realized my perception is only partly right. It demands highly on collaboration with other professional sectors and takes a very long time to finish. Photography gives me pleasure to fulfill my desire to create and it has saved my life on a regular basis.

What photographers are your biggest influences?

Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt, Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi, and fashion photographer Butsou Lai.

How long have you been shooting?

Since my study at McGill School of Architecture in Montreal.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

Photography works for me as a visual diary and it helps me to remember. Being a street photographer gives me purpose to explore my hometown and places I have never been.

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

Street photography is a common language, not only among photographers but also the world readers. We use words, no matter which language one speaks, to create stories and poetry, and I do the same in my street photography.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?

Hong Kong is a very crowded city and everyone goes in a super fast pace. I need to be very careful to make sure I won’t run into a person or car accident.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

I use my film camera as much as possible because with Kodak Portra film, the postproduction is very minimal. I use Lightroom to process my work.

 

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

I treasure Hong Kong as my home town since I could remember, but my relationship with our harbor waterfront is relatively recent.

When I was a boy, my family will go for boat trip every Sunday, and we spent the day on the beach and sometimes the night inside the tiny cabin that could barely fit us. Overlooking the starry night through the tiny opening under the cabin ceiling, the sound of the waves hitting the boat and smell of seawater defines my childhood. Even now, I find peace while looking at all forms of water that has marine lives dwelling within.

Now, being a father of two children grants me a new purpose in search of open space in the city I thought I know well. Out of all the varieties, I find myself keep coming back to the harbour waterfront. She is one of the most precious natural heritage that defines my hometown, like the Seine in Paris, or the Bund in Shanghai. She gives a perfect unobstructed view, stretching from east to west, in this hyper-dense city.

The relationship between the waterfront and the citizens is emotional. Everyday, people come to the waterfront to stretch, to run with a companion in solitude, or with pets or siblings. They share good times and bad times. They laugh, cry. do something, or most of the time nothing, along this linear strip of the city.

What made you want to get into your genre?

Architecture shapes how people live and work, but this is just the beginning. In time, the city and the citizens evolve what architects have created. Street photography not only allows me to understand and record these changes, it is also a form of art.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

I use mostly Leica M6 and sometimes Leica M240.

What motivates you to shoot?

I see the beautiful things in my hometown through my lens and I want to show them to others.

Visit Wong Wei-Him’s website, Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr to see more photos from On the Waterfront and follow his street photography.