Street life: Hong Kong in the 1950s as seen through the lens of photographer Fan Ho

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 November, 2015, 11:40am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 November, 2015, 4:31pm

Born in Shanghai in 1931, Fan Ho first delved into photography at the age of 14, when his father gave him a Rolleiflex twin-lens camera. After moving to Hong Kong in 1949, he began taking photographs of the streets and alleys of old Central, and of other markets and street stalls in the Hong Kong of the time. 

When Ho Fan took up street photography in the 1950s, Central was still a poor neighbourhood with shabby houses and dirty alleys.

The streets, filled with vendors, coolies and rickshaw drivers, fascinated Ho, who arrived from Shanghai in 1949. Taking pictures in a studio was the norm then, but the teenager was more interested in random, candid shots of strangers.

His creative output in the 1950s and 1960s included what are now recognised as some of Hong Kong’s most iconic photographic images. Between 1958 and 1965, he was eight times named one of the Top Ten Photographers of the World by the Photographic Society of America.

Approaching Shadow, 1954 Image: Fan Ho

Hong Kong Venice, 1962 Image: Fan Ho

Working Skywards, 1961 Image: Fan Ho

White Windows, 1962 Image: Fan Ho

Mothers Helper, 1967 Image: Fan Ho

Private, 1960 Image: Fan Ho

Hong Kong Midnight, 1958 Image: Fan Ho

Dreamscape, 2010 Image: Fan Ho

Flare, 1966 Image: Fan Ho

Steps, 1960 Image: Fan Ho

A Day is Done, 1957 Image: Fan Ho

Her Study, 1963 Image: Fan Ho

Pattern, 1956 Image: Fan Ho

Obsession, 1964 Image: Fan Ho

Construction, 1957 Image: Fan Ho

Life Above All, 1963 Image: Fan Ho

The Market Parade, 1963 Image: Fan Ho

A Sad, Sad Song, 1962 Image: Fan Ho

The photographer: Fan Ho