One Photographer’s Moody Portrait of Hong Kong

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Vanessa Wong photographer Hong Kong Apple ShotoniPhone
Photography by Vanessa Wong, Courtesy of Apple

Vanessa Wong shares the story behind her black and white series shot in Hong Kong on an iPhone 12 mini

For Hong Kong-based image-maker Vanessa Wong, black and white photography represents an invitation to imagine. “I want to invite my audiences to ‘colour’ my black and white work in their own minds, with their unique hues of emotion and expanse of experiences,” she tells AnOther of her monochromatic practice, which encompasses fashion, sport, and street photography.

Ahead of International Women’s Day (Monday, 8 March), Apple partnered Wong to create a unique series, alongside over a dozen other female photographers from around the world. For her project, which was shot entirely on the iPhone 12 mini, Wong captures a dramatic, chiaroscuro-style portrait of life in Hong Kong through various public and private scenes – from a sleepy portrait of a young man in bed, to the cityscape at night, and scribblings on the city’s concrete walls. 

“It was an attempt to examine, redefine and fully take in what we consider incomplete, imperfect and unseen,” says Wong of the series. “Shadows, voids, spots, blemishes, wrinkles, stretch marks … I believe darkness brings introspection, and everyone can interpret the images with their own palette.”

For Wong, the project also marked an experience of creative play and ease afforded by the intuitive camera settings of the iPhone. “The iPhone 12 Mini allowed me to be maximally spontaneous,” she explains. “There is no need to think about aperture and shutter speed; no test shots and no worries about missing a moment. It is in fact the best and simplest way for me to capture moments that move me.”

Looking back over the chaos of the past year, and forward to the months ahead, Wong says this period has enlivened her experience of the everyday and nurtured her craft as a photographer. “On some days, I treated the next day as if it was my last, and saw everything from big to small in a more precious light,” she says. “We all should do more of what makes us feel alive.”