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Fan Ho Interview

Go to:  Fan Ho – The artist artist's page.

Tell me a bit about the history of Fan Ho - where was he born, grew up and when did he first discover his love of photography?
Fan Ho was born in 1931 and grew up in Shanghai. His family emigrated to Hong Kong in the mid 1940's during the cultural revolution in China. The story goes that his father gave him his first camera, a brownie, when he was 13 and just started to walk around in the old city of Shanghai. He entered his picture in the local competition and won 1st place. He was hooked after that.

Ho is a film maker as well. What made him get into films?
Ho started his career as a movie actor in the late 1950's and early 1960's. He realised that after awhile he did not like being an actor and started making movies instead.

I understand he has won awards for film making. Can you detail some of the awards he has won?
Gulf : (1966) Banbury England Best Film Award, 15 min, Hong Kong is probably the most famous one. As for his favourite, Lost (1969), was Fan Ho's favourite. In Lost, one sees the chaotic life of one man in Hong Kong. The film follows him and finds the beauty that surrounds him; he is lost because he never saw it. I think that one can say that this is similar to Fan Ho's photographs in the sense that Hong Kong is crowded, busy and chaotic to many but for Fan Ho, he was able to convert [what he found] and find beauty. He also served on the jury of the Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards Festival and Hong Kong Film Award.

Why did Fan use Hong Kong as his back drop?
After he emigrated to HK, he lived, studied, and worked there. It was his new home!

He is a member of several national photographic societies - can you name some of them?
Fellow of the Photographic Society of America, the Royal Photographic Society and the Royal Society of Arts in England, and an Honorary Member of the Photographic Societies of Singapore, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy and Belgium. Ho was named one of the "Top Ten Photographers of the World" by the Photographic Society of America between 1958 and 1965.

Fan is also an actor, where can people see his work?
Journey to the West is probably his most famous work as an actor. He was the priest.

Why do you think a lot of work is in black and white?
During the 1950's and 60's that was what they had at the time. Colour photography did not come into play until late 60's and 70's He did do some color, but he loves B&W. He felt that it gave a nostalgic feel of the old HK.

It took a long time for Ho's work to be accepted and appreciated, why do you think it took so long for "street photography" to find a niche?
A lot of his photographs were entered into different competitions and exhibitions in the 1950's and 60's a span of 20 years. He was very well known during that time. In the 1970's he was busy raising his family and worked in the film industry; hence the photographs just got put away in storage boxes. It was not until the late 1990's when I met him that I started to show his work again. I started showing his work with a few collectors and art fair and within the span of 20 years, it took off. He really had a great time and enjoyed showing his photos to the young and new generation. His work was taken back to HK in 2010. It became a sensation. He was thrilled.

Ho had a famous quote - "I try not to waste the audience's time." What do you think he meant by this?
He wanted the picture to speak for itself. His picture will have a main focus and a "star" where the viewer can just zoom in to his work. It is all about design and esthetic. He is a master printer and worked on his work with photos with cropping, burning and dodging.

Where can people get in touch with his work, view, follow and purchase?
fanhophotography.com is the where people can see his work. The best 3 books of his work are: "Hong Kong Yesterday", "The Living Theatre" and "Fan Ho: A Hong Kong Memoir"

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