Call us biased, but we think Hong Kong is a pretty photogenic city. Whether you’re shooting the hills of Ma On Shan or getting the money shot of sunset across Victoria Harbour, you’re practically guaranteed to get some epic images if you make half an effort. But, of course, some places in Hong Kong are better to shoot than others.
If you’re keen to take your camera out and try your hand at capturing Hong Kong’s most incredible scenes, you’re in luck. We’ve talked to the experts (our Bamboo Scenes artists!) to find out their favourite places to shoot in Hong Kong—and we’ve even convinced them to give us their top tips to help you out!
Gideon de Kock
“Mong Kok Casualty” (2016) by Gideon de Kock - Mong Kok, Hong Kong
For South African-born Gideon, moving to Hong Kong unleashed his passion for photography. He’s found plenty of places to shoot in the city and is always discovering more. Although he thinks it’s impossible to just pick one place, when pressed, Gideon came up with one definitive answer.
“[Picking one place] is impossible but if I had to answer, I’d probably say the stretch between Mongkok and Prince Edward. It offers dynamic scenes, both busy and quiet, with great opportunities for both photographing interesting people and still-life subject matter.
Planning to head out to shoot Gideon’s top pick? Here’s his tip for getting the best images. “Things tend to move fast out here, so don’t hesitate to shoot, of you’ll likely miss the opportunity.”
“Headlight” (2016) by Elaine Li - Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
Elaine splits her time between Hong Kong and Australia, and she loves that Hong Kong can throw a million things a photographer’s way. Her top tip for capturing the city through a lens? “Always be on the lookout. Hong Kong is one of those cities where there’s always something going on, no matter where you look or point your camera. Be observant and you’ll get great pictures!”
When she’s in the city, Elaine loves photographing the neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po, which still retains much of Hong Kong’s vintage charm. “There’s so much life in the area and you can really feel the local culture of Hong Kong,” says Elaine.
“Call Of The Mountain” (2020) by Kelvin Yuen - Sharp Peak, Hong Kong
As the 2020 Landscape Photographer of the Year, it’s no surprise that Kelvin loves getting out to unexplored parts of the city to capture incredible landscapes of Hong Kong’s natural attributes. But there’s one particular place he keeps going back to.
“My absolute favourite place to shoot is the Hong Kong Geopark, without a doubt,” says Kelvin. “It’s because there are so many different landscapes that I can find to create artwork.” But taking photographs of this incredible place requires a little more effort than your average point-and-shoot strategy. “You need to spend time connecting with this place and understanding the weather conditions to get the best shots,” says Kelvin.
“Cotton Candy, Majin Buu” (2017) by Vivien Liu - Kowloon, Hong Kong
With a background in architecture, it’s no surprise that award-winning photographer Vivien loves capturing Hong Kong’s urban sprawl. But lighting plays a big part in her images, too. That’s why Vivien seeks places from where she can capture the city’s architecture in different lighting conditions.
“For me, Lugard Road on the Peak is one of my favourite places to shoot,” says Vivien. “From up here, I like how you can get an amazing view of both Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon side. And, if you go at different times of the year or day, you get a sneak peek of the city in different lights and shadows. It’s like seeing the city with different personalities.
Of course, capturing these compelling images with the perfect vantage point and lighting conditions requires a little effort. “You need to be patient and keep revisiting the spot to get the perfect shots,” says Vivien.
“Martini” (2017) by Sharon Liu - Kowloon, Hong Kong
After discovering a love of photography in New York, Sharon fell in love with the medium’s ability to connect with people’s emotions. That’s why she seeks scenes that capture the essence of Hong Kong and convey a real sense of the city to viewers. And, for Sharon, there’s only one place in Hong Kong to do that. “I feel Kowloon is the real Hong Kong, so I love shooting here.”
For photographers keen on capturing Kowloon in their own way, Sharon suggests spending time and being attentive to the surroundings. “You need to just keep exploring to find endless opportunities for incredible street photography,” says Sharon. “And don’t forget to look up once in awhile to check out the neon signs and buildings.”
“Hi, Shops” (2020) by Kevin Mak - Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Kevin is renowned for capturing Hong Kong’s uniquely dichotomous nature through his captivating images. Whether they immortalise the city’s blend of East and West, history and modernity, or calm and chaos, it’s this duality that Kevin loves to photograph.
It’s no surprise, then, that he loves shooting around Central and Sheung Wan, two neighbourhoods that really capture Hong Kong’s multifaceted personalities. “The urban scenes here are very diverse and unique in the sense that you’ve got new and old buildings and shops packed in next to each other,” says Kevin. “Further up, they’re all built on hills, offering an additional three-dimensional angle for photos.
To get really unique photos, Kevin says, you need to get in with the locals. “Become part of the area... eat, drink, live, and get to know the people around here,” Kevin advises. “That will offer you access to scenes, events, and places from which you can shoot unexpected points of view, like a private rooftop. This will help you create more unique works with a personal touch.”
“Dusk Life by The Harbour” (2020) by Jeremy Cheung - Kowloon, Hong Kong
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Keen to document the dynamic, multifaceted personality of the city he grew up in, Jeremy seeks out the most authentic places in Hong Kong for his photography. “Some of my favourite districts include Sham Shui Po, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Sheung Wan, but this changes from time to time,” says Jeremy. “In autumn and winter, the view from the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade to the north side of Hong Kong at sunset—with the ferries in the harbour—is my favourite scene to shoot. It might seem cliche, but after so many years of living in Hong Kong, the simple sights are enough to connect with my memories.
To get that perfect sunset ferry shot on the harbour, Jeremy suggests heading out in autumn and winter. “Choose a clear day and take the ferry about an hour-and-a-half before sunset,” says Jeremy. “But don’t just take the Star Ferry. Try different routes, like Hong Hom to Central, or To Kwa Wan to North Point, or Lei Yue Mun to Sai Wan Ho. They all offer different viewpoints from which to see the city with its moving skylines on both sides of Victoria Harbour.”