THINK OF ENGLAND When I was 14 my father (Henry Fok Ying-tung) sent me abroad to school. Nowadays, a lot of people send their children (overseas for education), but in my day, it was really like being cut loose. And my father always encouraged me to be independent. He bought a one-way ticket to London and said, "Would you like to go to school in London?" I said yes, because I had never been anywhere else besides my little vicinity in Hong Kong. I didn't realise what it meant to arrive in a place not knowing anybody. At that time, my father had not flown before. He just put a lot of money in my bag and said, "Here, this is your school fee, get on with it." I didn't know any English, so I arrived without any language skills, and there was just a telephone to connect me with my past. I cried for a month. And then I said, "I can keep on crying, or I can take this as a good opportunity."
DADDY'S GIRL My father was a very good role model. He grew up in difficult circumstances. His father died when he was seven. He was brought up by his mother. He grew up during the war. It couldn't have been more difficult. He got a scholarship to study and, once he was able to help (other people), he actually did a lot; and never took advantage of people in business. I think that's admirable.
When I was studying in England, my father came to visit me; as soon as he got off the plane, he went to play tennis! He started playing tennis when he was 40, and he played at Wimbledon as a veteran.
He was a good role model to me because to him, there was no limit (to what she could achieve). When I went abroad, he never told me to be careful. He just said, "Here's the money, and take care." He never really put parameters on what I should and should not do, so I was able to find my own destiny.
GOING NATIVE After my university studies, in my early 20s, I went by myself to the Borneo jungle to photograph the native people, because I wanted to understand what harmony is. Do we have a lot to teach these people? Are we so civilised, and they so behind? I found myself alone in the jungle, and it was hot, and I was carrying my Hasselblad camera and all my lenses by myself and I was just wondering, "What am I doing here? Why am I doing this?" But looking back, I think those are some of my very best and most special photographs.
THE POWERS THE BE About 15 years ago, I photographed energy. Energy appeared in my photograph that I did not see with my eyes. It shows a world beyond, that we don't know exists. People have always talked about energy, the world that we do not see with our eyes. It's like when you're tuning into a radio, there are different wavelengths. It depends on which wavelength you tune into, whether you hear pop or classical music. And I think when you tune into yourself, and elevate your thinking to a more spiritual level, maybe you tune into a different level of understanding. That is, in a way, my hobby, my career, my life, my interest.
A VERY PUBLIC FAMILY AFFAIR I take (the legal battle between her siblings over their father's HK$1.4 billion estate, which began after his death from cancer in 2006) very calmly. I think when you deal with sharing, it's always difficult, because people have different points of view. But we see each other every week for lunch, as always, because our mother is still here. She doesn't want to know what's going on, so when we see each other we don't ever talk about this sort of thing. One side is business, and the other is a relationship. We're born into a family - it's like we're in the same boat. It's something that cannot be changed. For me, I don't have any animosity, but we're living in a legal world, so certain things have to be sorted out legally. And then there is human life. I'm quite able to separate the two. When I see my brothers and sisters, I still love them.
AS FLEETING AS LIGHT I was in Nepal two months before the earthquake, and a lot of things I photographed now no longer exist. I always feel that life is impermanent, and (the earthquake) sort of clearly stated that.
Each copy of my new book (which spans her 40-year career and proceeds from which will be donated to Nepal) will bear the Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) logo, which I find to be a great honour. This year marks Unesco's 70th anniversary, and this is the year that they call the Year of the Light; my book is called Journey of Light.
Patricia Fok Lai-ping's sixth photography book costs HK$980, and is available at Kelly and Walsh in Pacific Place, Admiralty.