Follow Me to a million Instagram fans: Photographer and girlfriend bring project to Hong Kong
Photographer's pictures of hand-clasping companion have become online phenomenon
It all started by accident in 2011, when Russian photographer Murad Osmann's girlfriend, tired of constantly waiting for him as he stopped to take pictures while on vacation in Barcelona, impatiently pulled his hand to get him to move forward.
From behind her, he snapped a photo of it and forever immortalised the moment.
Today, Osmann's "Follow Me" project features photos of his girlfriend, Natalia Zakharova, leading him by the hand through about 100 cities across the world, and it has drawn over a million followers on his account on online photo-sharing service Instagram.
"For a photographer, there are many places to shoot in Hong Kong," he said. "There are skyscrapers, high-density buildings, junk boats and rooftop bars."
Osmann, who arrived on Monday for a five-day tour, has had a packed schedule, with trips including a tram tour, a junk boat ride and visits to The Peak, the Big Buddha in Lantau, Stanley and Sai Kung, among others.
Now, the Tourism Board has invited Osmann to take pictures of Hong Kong for his project to help promote the city. It is his second time in Hong Kong.
But aside from the Tourism Board's arrangements for them, they also visited Choi Hung Estate, one of the city's oldest public housing settlements.
Osmann said his local friend recommended the area and that he was impressed by its colourful buildings, open-air basketball court and local atmosphere.
A Tourism Board spokeswoman said it planned to invite more Russian celebrities to promote Hong Kong to their countrymen, who would find the city an ideal escape from their homeland's harsh and unforgiving winters.
Last year, more than 223,000 Russian tourists visited Hong Kong - up 20 per cent from the year before, she said.
About 146,000 stayed overnight, spending more than HK$9,200 each per trip on average. This was more than the amount mainland visitors spent, she added.
"Russian people like to stay in luxury hotels and spend a lot when they travel," the spokeswoman said. "They're an important market for us."
Zakharova, a fashion editor, said she had been working on a book that would feature interesting stories and photos from their trips. She expects it to be published by autumn.