Despite the repeated promise of 'no change for 50 years', something in Hong Kong will still have gone for good after June 30. As a photojournalist for 20 years, Wong Kan-tai vows to record the fading traces of colonial Hong Kong. Since last year, he has been snapping the things and people he thinks will not survive the transition to Chinese rule of the soon-to-be-former British colony. 'When everybody rushes to take all possible shots of Tung Chee-hwa, I would rather focus on Chris Patten,' says the 40-year-old. 'It's just like people taking pictures in front of a building which will soon be demolished.' In the past few months, foreign journalists have streamed into Hong Kong. Each of them will come up with their own interpretation of Hong Kong's unification with the motherland. But Wong will supply a crucial piece for this journalistic mosaic. The return of Hong Kong's sovereignty, Wong says, has to be covered by Hong Kong people themselves, no matter how many foreign journalists come here. 'I'm not saying Hong Kong people are better than anybody else. But without our own participation the picture can never be complete. What do the Hong Kong people think about the whole issue? How do they feel? All these things have to be filled in by ourselves. 'Our photographic techniques may not be as good as them. But it's our identity, not our technique, that matters. After all, it's us, the Hong Kong people, who will be affected.' A former photographer for Wen Wei Po, Wong left the paper after the Tiananmen crackdown. He then spent four years studying photography in Japan. In 1990, he published Tiananmen '89, a collection of 63 photographs of the student movement in Beijing. Recently, he published his second book Land Reclaimed From The Sea, which traced the changes in Central before and after reclamation. 'Changes do not need to be political; non-political changes sometimes have more lasting effect,' he says. 'Though a year or two of reclamation is as fast as the blink of the shutter, once the changes have been made they can never been reversed.' One of the last vestiges of pre-handover Hong Kong will be the journalists themselves, Wong says: 'I think the heyday of Hong Kong journalism has gone. For a long time Hong Kong journalists were very free to cover news, which I think has changed in recent years. 'A photographer in another newspaper has complained to me that his company didn't want the picture of Szeto Wah [a Democrat] looking too good.' He says Hong Kong's journalism enjoyed the greatest freedom when left- wing, right-wing and middle-of-the-road papers were all competing with each other. Two months ago, Wong resigned from a weekly news magazine and started working full-time for the handover project. He wanted to capture this moment not as a journalist but as a native Hong Konger, he says. 'News pictures tend to be superficial. They must have powerful impact, and their message must be clear and direct. But that's not what I want to do. 'If Tung Chee-hwa holds a press conference or some politicians stage a demonstration, the most interesting thing in terms of photography may not be Tung and the politicians themselves. Many things around them can be more interesting. 'Just as in a war, we should not only focus on the fighting and the war victims. There are many other things around. If I am still working for a newspaper or something, I have to focus on the obvious. 'It's certainly important to let people in the next generation know how something looked in the past, but it's equally important to let them know how somebody thought at that time.' The handover is basically a struggle between men and their fate, so there is no right or wrong, good or evil in his pictures, he says. 'American journalists are particularly eager to make value judgments in their pictures. 'One can easily tell who's the good guy, who's the bad guy. But I don't look at things that way. 'Like, I'll take some pictures of Martin [Lee Chu-ming] not because I think he is virtuous or what. It's his helplessness which attracts me.' For Wong, July 1 lifts the curtain on a new era that dawns amid a great deal of uncertainty. After the next two months, for example, he will begin to worry about finding a new job: 'Today, too much experience is not necessarily an advantage. 'Many papers don't want to pay that much money for an experienced photographer, and they need somebody who will just follow orders instead of thinking for themselves. 'It's a waste of time to think of these things now. The handover is a one-in-150-year opportunity. I think it's even more important than China's student movement in 1989. 'I know if I don't do it with all my best I'm sure I will regret it in the future.'