World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 247 - Ka Ho Pang
Ka Ho Pang is a street photographer. Early January this year he came from Hong Kong to Amsterdam. He soon picked up the street photography he practiced in Hong Kong at a tremendous pace (5000 pictures in three months).
I am speaking with Ka Ho Pang (34) on the seventh floor of the Amsterdam public library on the Oosterdokskade. He grew up in Paris where he completed a master's degree in IT engineering at Epitech Paris, but when he graduated it was financial crisis and he left for Hong Kong where he still had family.
Staying at his grandmother's house he worked as an assistant for some photographers and he started to shoot photos himself: fashion shoots and photos of events. A few years he had his own business and studio. “I made fashion photos. I had a partner who was more experienced. He knew about light and tricks. Our photos appeared among others on websites of restaurants and clubs.”
Looking back, he sees the decision to photograph people from up close as his key moment. “In three months time I made 5000 pictures. I learned to approach people. I was learning every day. First a distance of three meters, and every next day 10/20 centimeters went off. I was walking all the time and thinking all the time about getting closer. I forgot to eat. I lost 15-20 kilos.”
He made his pictures in black and white with a rangefinder camera. “Black/white is simpeler. Color distracts. It is the best choice when you are focussing on the face. You see more details. I am shooting in any condition. Each subject is one click. The editing is quick. I do it on my phone on my way back home. There is no cropping, I take so many photos that I can already make corrections while shooting.”
It wasn't always easy. In Hong Kong he took no pictures for two years. He was in a depressive period. “I was depressed because I couldn't communicate with anyone. People are focused on themselves, no longer communicate with each other. Then I found a new way to photograph with the rangefinder camera and started again.”
His theme is communication. “Doing photography helps me to communicate with people. In this way people get their humanity back. It’s hard for me as an Asian. In Asia we don’t come too close, even in our family. We don't know much about our parents and about our past. In the West I forgot my Asian roots.” Why is communication that important? “In this world there are great geo-political problems. Many problems and troubles are there because we don't communicate enough. Everybody lives in his own bubble. My photography is an attempt to get out of the bubble.”
In Amsterdam he came in contact with Aloys Ginjaar who invited him to tell about his photography in one of the photography meetings in Café Kalkhoven. “Aloys is a big fan of what I’m doing. He is super critical and that is why I find it all the more beautiful that he appreciates my photography.”
We view the photos on his tablet. First the Hong Kong photos. A man with a cigarette in his hand, people in the streets of Hong Kong, sometimes a graphic view, a butcher, a mother, a man on a jetty shot from the hip, a market – “super interesting to make pictures at a market. Most people don't notice me” – an exercise in shadows. “You see I’m getting closer in the end. I’m looking for the expression of their face and especially their first reaction.”
He went for different settings. “Everyday it is different. In Hong Kong I shot more subjects than in Amsterdam, there is a greater density of people there.” He shows a woman with an apron. She was shy. ‘Why do you want to take a picture of me?’ “I complimented her and she blushed. It was OK. She asked if I could send her that photo. Of course.”
When he arrived in Amsterdam it was winter. "The last 10 years I have not experienced a winter. I was wearing a big jacket, I was slow. I took some pictures, two minutes long, how would people respond? I had not yet taken pictures of a white person in street photography. In Amsterdam people were different.
After two weeks he already dared a distance of 1 meter. "I didn’t take as many photos per day as in Hong Kong. After a day I sometimes have in general five good pictures. I went on walking, as I did in Hong Kong. In street photography you have two categories: the hunters and the fishers, I belong to the hunters. "
He is mainly in the center of Amsterdam. “There are more people. In Hong Kong you have more clusters than in Amsterdam, especially around the subway stations. I avoid the tourists. I can see if someone is local or a tourist.”
Recently he was at the Climate March in The Hague, at the Malieveld and in the streets. “The protesters had all kinds of protest signs with original texts. There was old and young. It was very spontaneous. You can easily lose your focus. I had to concentrate well. At the end I had 70 good pictures. It’s my best series so far.”
Ko Ho Pang also has color photos. Photos of vegetables / fruit stalls and food stalls in the evening. I see the multi-colored photos in full light. Everything around it is dark. “I wanted to get rid of all distractions and go for what I wanted. I made them around ten in the evening. "
Finally, what is his philosophy? Ka-Ho Pang: “Get closer. Meet people. Don't stay alone. Photography is the most lonely job there is. Why not mix a little bit with your subject? They are happy when a picture is taken of them.”
1) Invisible AMS1, 2) Invisible AMS2, 3) Invisible AMS3, 4) Invisible HongKong96, 5) Invisible HongKong101, 6) Invisible HongKong161, 7) Invisible HongKong162, 8) Invisible HongKong163, 9) Klimaatstaking1, 10) Klimaatstaking2, 11 - 13) Fruitstalls by night, 14) Ka Ho Pang