Ho, Fan

Chinese (1931)

Fan Ho was born in Shanghai, but immigrated with his family to Hong Kong at an early age. Captivated by urban life, Ho started photographing with a camera his father gave him, exploring alleys, slums, markets and streets, engaging with the street vendors and children only a few years younger than him. He developed his images in the family bathtub and soon had built up a significant body of work, chronicling Hong Kong in the 50s and 60s as it was becoming a major metropolitan center.

While Ho’s subject matter has historical value, his images are anything but straight realistic documentary work. His compositions are often dramatic: he incorporates naturally occurring and man-made patterns for the complexity they bring; he elongates figures by bending his photo paper under the enlarger; he even crops things unusually to lend his images an altered perspective. Hong Kong becomes surreal, even romantic, and Ho is able to convey his love for a place where beauty is not immediately evident to the outsider. Though he continues to photograph today, Ho is better known for his film and directing credits.