Visual impairment no barrier in the pursuit of an artistic vision
In the midst of bustling Mong Kok, Yam Pok-fai takes out his camera. He is looking for a haven of peace in the crowd to fit his theme of finding leisure among the hustle and bustle for his entry in a photography contest.
Apart from battling the crowd, Yam faced an even greater challenge in pursuit of his hobby: the 23-year-old is blind.
He is one of 11 visually impaired people who, with sighted partners, are taking part in 'Eyetopia - Share Your Vision', organised by the Leo Club of Victoria Hong Kong.
Club co-chairman Dominic Chan Wing-kam says the contest aims to raise public awareness of the needs of the blind while enabling sighted participants to interact with them in a 'unique and brand-new' way.
'The most vital mission of this activity is to provide a chance for both the visual able and visually impaired participants to share their vision of this world via the same lens,' he said.
Yam praised his partner, keen amateur photographer Tony Leung, 50. 'I feel thankful to have him guide me through my photo-taking journey, putting my ideas into practice.'
Leo Club started recruitment in December and organised photography workshops and get-togethers for participants. All 11 pairs submitted their photographs last week for review by a panel of judges, including a professional photographer. The public can also vote for the five 'most touching photos' on the club's Facebook page until April 24.
Chan hoped the competition could become a regular event.
Two other entrants, a father-and-daughter pair, turned snippets of their daily lives into snapshot ideas - from a variety of different pieces of wood found in the concrete jungle to an unexpected helicopter rescue.
'We do not always have a theme before we shoot. We simply capture some special moments in our normal family lives with a tiny digital camera for non-professionals,' said the partially-sighted Henry Hung who is in his 50s. His daughter Sabrina, a high-diploma student, said she had spent more time communicating with her father through the competition.
'We have sort of developed a tacit understanding. Sometimes my daughter knows what I want to capture by the moment I take out the camera,' Hung said, giving Sabrina a conspiratorial wink.
Hung noted that digital cameras did not have a voice navigation function like other electronic appliances.
'People have no idea that visually-impaired people can also be interested in photography. We also have our visions.'
Yam said disability did not blind him from the beauty of the world.
'Sometimes city people are blindly living hectic lives and never bothering to slow down a bit to look at the insignificant but amazing things happening around them,' he said, referring to the theme of his photographs.