Didi S. Gilson, Photography
Didi S. Gilson Photographs
Scratching An Itch with Color Pop in Hazy Light - Wan Chai After the Lunar New Year Celebrations
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China - February
I visited Hong Kong for a too brief Four Day Immersion, wandering around by myself on a journey by foot in Wan Chai during the week just after the Lunar New Year Celebrations of 2018 (Tuesday through Friday). Many of the locals were returning to work, although there was still somewhat of an upbeat, festive atmosphere, and the tourists didn’t seem like they wanted to return home yet. I had never traveled to Hong Kong before but as a region that seems to symbolize the merging of East with West; a special place where both English and Chinese are spoken fluently on the streets (and painted on the signs), I was excited to explore, eat, and enjoy my meander.
As a long time movie buff, I am a big fan of Wong Kar-wai’s films from earlier in his career (particularly Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995), and Happy Together (1997) all of which exude a certain atmosphere which I knew might no longer exist in the region. So too, there was the lesser known Wayne Wang film “Chinese Box” that had made an impact on me. It was “The story of Hong Kong, from New Year’s Day to June 30th, 1997, when the British left their colony and turned it over to the People’s Republic of China.”
Still, I didn’t do much research, preferring to hit the ground running. I like to be surprised and move on simple instincts or intuition, my own skills of seeing and showing, as well as enigmatic street serendipity. I am always most interested in the ordinary details of contemporary life (wherever I am). My wish is to discover the extraordinary appearance of banal events, that I can render even more intriguing in a framed photo.
Hong Kong was nicknamed ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ (a bit of the Itch of the title) and considered definitively “exotic” by the travel advertisers in the 1950s. Wan Chai District translates to Little Bay or Cove District. I concentrated my four day photographic journey here, in the business and financial hub, also because it is the older, historic region it lends the place a less technologically modern look. This helped to satisfy my aim to stick with one type of city setting for the series.
Weather was not too warm nor terribly muggy, but did drizzle or mist up daily. It was always overcast, which wouldn’t ordinarily be my favorite ambient light circumstance or condition, but without needing to hunt for sunlight & shadowplay… (because I absolutely wouldn’t find any) I would concentrate on making the simple, banal, everyday moments that delight me to find into photos. Those gestures and the nuance of this city’s particular details, of body language and that delightful color pop that often occurs in hazy light.