I'm a good-for-nothing.
There is no city like Hong Kong. Nobody takes photographs of Hong Kong like Chan Wai Kwong. There is no photographer like Chan Wai Kwong.
He was born in 1976 in Hong Kong. His father was a news photographer and his mother worked in the Macao casinos. Chan dropped out of New Method College just one year after entering the school in 1988. He then drifted in and out of odd jobs for many years, working in a restaurant and as an office errand “boy”. He started taking photographs in his teens in a casual way, got more and more involved and is entirely self-taught and self-reliant. Chan invariably photographs in black and white and on film.
Over 5 years ago he gave up other work to concentrate on his photography full time. He has no source of income other than from sporadic sales of his prints and handmade books. However hard it has been, he has not wavered from his destined path. He has self-published over fifteen photobooks such as Wanchai (2011), Ah~(2011), Ting Ting (2012),Everyday Love (2013), This is Hong Kong (2014), Admiralty (2015), and Police Portraits (2015). Zen Foto Gallery has newly published his book Yau Ma Tei (2015), to accompany this current exhibition.
His strange appearance belies a quiet and modest character, but he also knows that he is great.
If you ask me about photography, I will categorize myself a good-for-nothing. To be honest, even without photos I won't die, I can live without photos at any time. Indeed, it's such a trivial matter to press the shutter. I take photos, but it doesn't mean I can do whatever I want. Scenes in my photos already existed. It doesn't matter whoever else takes the photo, the scenes don't change anyway. I just took the photos by chance. Am I great? In fact, that's not a big deal.—— Chan Wai Kwong, September 2013
Yau Ma Tei is an archetypal neighbourhood of Hong Kong, where the street traders and local residents gather, old and young, locals and foreigners. The streets and back alleys are the site of market stalls, restaurants, illegal gambling and street walkers. Hong Kong is a most cosmopolitan city, where people of many cultures have been mixing for over 150 years. A freewheeling city, subject to wrenching political and economic change, it transforms remorselessly. Day after day after day, Chan instinctively roams Hong Kong, its streets, alleyways and buildings. Chan faces everything and photographs anything. Watch out Hong Kong, you are about to be bared.