University campuses, surprisingly, boast many hidden gems for the keen photographer. From estate-esque tree-flanked paths and collegiate red-brick buildings to modern backdrops à la Bauhaus, take your pick. Don’t miss the nooks and crannies as ones with the right color wall or architectural element may be the perfect backdrop. A tip for spotting these gems, according to Charles, is to devour as many works of others as you can, and soon, you’ll start to get a feel for the workable backdrops and the most flattering angles from which to shoot.
Choi Hung Housing Estate
Choi Hung Housing Estate shot to international fame thanks to artist Michael Wolf’s large format photography depicting hyper-dense living of Hong Kong. Choi Hung means rainbow in Chinese, and the façade of the housing estate aptly carries the colors of the rainbow. Charles finds older neighborhoods like these where community connections are still strong especially calming and charming.
Happenstance dictated that Charles and his friend wore outfits that coordinated with the pink walls in the carpark of Hopewell Centre. Not skipping a beat, they took to the pink wall and snapped. Apparently, each floor has a different color wall – fashionistas, take your pick. For shoots, Charles suggests bringing as few articles of clothing as possible that could still create the biggest effect. With shoes: two pairs maximum. Must-haves: a jacket as you can wear it buttoned up, slung over one shoulder or in any other way. Glasses could give the look a completely different feel, as could hats. The challenge of shooting in Hong Kong, especially on a good day, is that it could get really hot. Charles would rather research the location and complete his shoot as fast and efficient as possible, rather than spend time figuring things out under umbrellas or the sun on-site. Note: Cooling wet wipes are also essential.
Western District Public Cargo Working Area
On weekends, this pier on the western side of Hong Kong Island is almost always bustling. A quick search for the Western District Public Cargo Working Area (in Chinese 山道西區公眾貨物裝卸區) will turn up a page chock-full of inspiration by fun-loving Instagrammers and serious photography aficionados alike. Surprisingly, the pier is most popular after a rainstorm as a large puddle of water on the lot, paired with an obstruction free view, is where legendary pictures in the style of the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia could be achieved.
The Wings, Tseung Kwan O Private Property Club House Area
Striking a pose before the camera could be daunting. The key, says Charles from experience, is not to give a damn and be 110 percent focused on achieving your goals. It certainly takes practice to be comfortable in one’s own skin, especially when needing to dial up the coolness factor. However, start with these fool-proof tips in front of the camera to get going: try pretending to walk; stand pole-like, and stare straight into the camera; or pose, then look away from the camera.
Hillside by Blue Pool Road
A hillside by the French International School’s Blue Pool Road campus, the splattering of evergreen shrubs and rock structures offer a textured space for a photo-op. Innumerable roadside and hillside configurations in Hong Kong essentially offer the same opportunity – the key is to keep an eye out for them. A teeny bit of a photoshopping clue: augmenting the reddish browns on the leaves helps give a more stylized effect. Step inside the space, follow your senses and feel where nature guides you.
Nam Shan Estate
Step into Nam Shan Estate and experience tranquility that sets it apart from the rest of Hong Kong. On a Sunday, you’ll find old couples taking a stroll, hanging out, beating a different rhythm from the hustle and bustle of this Asian metropolis. Even in this digital age, Chinese aeroplane chess is still a favorite among kids. Each must navigate all its four wooden aeroplane checkers safely to its airport to win. At Nam Shan Estate, part of the Shek Kip Mei public housing, a life-size version of this traditional children’s chess game allows small kids and big ones to be the moving aeroplane checkers themselves!
Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Asia Society Hong Kong Center’s clean architectural lines and surrounding beauty almost guarantees exceptional photos. Charles recommends making full use of your time there, taking photos at different times of the day. In between shoots, pop into AMMO for tea and wait for the lights to come on for a completely different effect.
Jumbo Floating Restaurant
The lanterns and sampan framing this picture put the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in a new light. Get on the paid sampans parked alongside the free ones and pay by half-hour increments. The sampans will be happy to skip the harbor tour and instead anchor just before the floating restaurant so that you can snap postcard-worthy pics to your heart’s delight. A perfect setting for pictures in the style of Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love, perhaps?
Note: Always be mindful and respectful of recreational and residential space when having a photo shoot.