Photographer Spotlight: Ho Yin Chan, Scofield

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Black & White Category February 2020 Winner, taken by Ho Yin Chan, Scofield, at Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

As ASIAN Geographic’s annual Images of Asia (IOA) 2020 Photo/Videography Competition looms closer, submissions to our IOA Monthly competition – the precursor to our annual event – are pouring in. We have received stunning photos across the categories, and are now featuring our monthly winners in an exclusive interview!

Below is our interview with one of this month’s spotlight, Ho Yin Chan, Scofield, the IOA Monthly February 2020 Winner in the Black & White category, selected from the January 2020 entries.

AG: What is the story of your beginning and journey to creating great images?

Scofield: Back in my school days, I was interested in the studies of Urban Imagination, and especially in the comparative literature between Chinese and Japanese Contemporary works, and sometimes works on creative writing. I never found myself fitting into a business city and concrete jungle like where I live. With print media declining, I became a school teacher. The only pleasure I received was from photography – It allows me to represent my feeling via images, healing me from negative emotions, and pushes me to keep going further.

Indeed, the winning IOA image is one of my series photos taken on a little tram trip in Hong Kong. This photo was shot a moment when a man crossed the road in the crowded city, and looked back carefully under the concrete jungle. He crossed the street illegally, this moment makes me recalled an ending scene of Truffaut “The 400 Blows”. We are so small in the mechanical city like ants, seemingly alone, hopeless and isolated but still walking in our lives.

 

AG: How would you define your style and concepts you enjoy exploring?

Scofield: I am interested in the theory of “Punctum” in Roland Barthes’s book. I love shooting in the detail part with people on the street, makes readers feel the silence, the “wow”, and a deep thinking moment even if the photo looks “normal”. In addition, I enjoy the combination of lighting and reflection from building exteriors. People are always the main characters in my work, I used to avoid making passersby aware of my existence, it make me fully represent what I was gazing in this “normal” city. So if you find me on the street, please don’t say “hi” to me, I might be “hunting”!

 

AG: What is great photography to you, and are there any photographers you would like to work with?

Scofield: I think street photography is quite different from landscape or cityscape photos because everything can be changed on the street within seconds, such as people walking by and interrupting your composition. Sometimes it may make you surprised, sometimes you feel frustrated when passerby or cars cover what you want to shoot. The process is like a hunter hiding in a jungle wait for his quarry. What makes photography special are photos that cannot be repeatable or duplicated. As my major was in Chinese Contemporary literature at University, I think a photo is like a context for me, my works are able to be read and decoded depending on what you are focusing on.

 As an amateur, I love to share my experience and work with whoever is “into” photo-taking. Nothing better than having someone with a common interest, one hand holding a camera and another hand holding a beer, spending the day and night chatting.

 

AG: What is your preferred imaging gear to work with and why?

Scofield: I am using Leica M240 and a compact camera, Ricoh GR3. Leica M240 gets great quality, is elegant and a conversation starter with whoever I shoot on the street. Ricoh GR3 is also a great camera that I discovered recently; it is small, easily hidden, and holds when shopping and gathering with friends. I can also take different angles of everything that happens on the street. Originally, 28mm gave me trouble because it’s so wide! But I think that is an opportunity to get any photo within a closer distance. I remember that Robert Capa had said “If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough”, and I totally agree with that.

 

AG What is the next Asian destination you’d like to explore and why?

Scofield: I dream of going to India with my wife – I assume that is a dream place for all photographers!

 

AG: Can you share more about your current and upcoming projects?

Scofield: My seniority in photo taking is still considered “young”, so what I would love to do now is to keep exploring, keep learning and accepting whatever working opportunity I can get. I am still holding my camera and walking on the streets, local fruit markets and tourist spots in Hong Kong every weekend, and trying to break through any angle of the stereotyped view of Hong Kong.

 

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