Tricia Darling has a truly unique way of seeing the city, so we sat down with her to talk inspiration and the creative scene in Hong Kong.
Creativity in Hong Kong is going from strength to strength, with a number of Hong Kong artists starting to gain the recognition they deserve for their works, including Zlism and Kylie Chan. As a street photographer, Tricia Darling captures unique moments across the city, as she explores Hong Kong on foot. We recently sat down with her to chat more about her passion for photography and her work with new gallery Bamboo Scenes.
An interview with street photographer Tricia Darling
Hi, Tricia. Thanks for sitting down with us today. Tell us a little about your background and how you ended up in Hong Kong.
I’m originally from a very small town in southern Western Australia. While I adore Australia, its lifestyle and unique beauty, I always desperately wanted to see the world and live in cities. In 2001, at 26, I left for London with just a backpack, and I have never lived permanently back in Australia.
I met my husband in London, and we then moved to Dubai with his company. In Dubai, we had a son and stayed for three years, and then we moved to Hong Kong, where we had a daughter. We have now been here just over seven years, and I’m besotted by the city and the wonderful community here.
Where and how did photography make its way into your life?
My father is a keen photographer, always taking me down the beach to photograph storms and nature. He has a great collection of cameras and Polaroids. I increasingly took more street images when I moved to London and began commuting and walking around the city. When we moved to Dubai, much of the city was still being built, so I enjoyed shooting the construction scenes and bright shiny new buildings, especially the Burj Khalifa. When my baby was born he became my muse, and I would take photos of him every day and starting to take photos of my friends’ children.
What inspires you most about Hong Kong streets?
A walk in the streets of Hong Kong never ever fails to surprise me and make me feel inspired. I love the ever-changing nature of things, bamboo scaffolding, the construction, the confusion of delivery trucks, taxis and trolleys. I’m in awe of how so many of us live here in such a small space but everything seems to work, mostly. Add the heat and rain and the tourists and the weather and Hong Kong is just a beautiful mash-up of colour and moments. I’m also so inspired by the graffiti and street art scene here, and I really applaud the work of HK Walls in giving artists such a fabulous platform.
How do you engage with subjects on the street?
After all these years, many locals and special characters know me, and we have our sweet little ways of saying hello and asking each other about our days in my bad Cantonese and their snippets of English. Because of our relationship these locals are happy to be in my photos. All of my other photography on the street is candid; if anyone appears bothered or takes offence I am happy to show them the photo and I will always offer to email them a copy of the photo. This scenario really doesn’t happen often. I would never shoot someone homeless or disabled or in distress. I also use a 50mm lens which brings me close to subjects and not at a zoom lens, which could be considered kind of paparazzi creepy.
Tell us about your involvement with Bamboo Scenes.
I became aware of Madelon De Grave and the Bamboo Scenes movement at the same time as noticing the amazing work of Jeff Rotmeyer and Impact HK. Madelon’s vision of bringing beautiful and contemporary art into people’s homes is so exciting and I was impressed with her modern approach to a gallery. She also donates 10% of profits to Impact HK. I teamed up with my good friend and amazing photographer Michael Kistler and we developed a collection together as a duo called Envy. We have used the iconic Hong Kong taxi as our hero in this collection and there are twelve images in total.
How do you think the creative scene has grown in Hong Kong since you first arrived?
I feel there is such a wonderful spirit of sharing and collaboration here. I’ve been so inspired by the ingenuity of artists and creatives here. Most are very willing to share their ideas and processes and I have had some wonderful experiences collaborating on personal projects and I have some fashion and other projects in the pipeline with Michael Kistler.
What photographers on Instagram do you recommend following?
In Hong Kong, I’m always wowed by the work of:
@mdkistler – Michael Kistler
@torridtext – Jason
@delsol35 – Marissa Reyes Beckman
@kulkimoose – Kay Kulkarni
Internationally, I love:
@clemono2 – Clem Ono
@joshkjack – Joshua K Jackson
@_davidsark – David Sark
@sixstreetunder – Craig Whitehead
What would you say to people who want to get involved in trying street photography?
The most important thing is just to go out and shoot. Even the iPhone can take perfectly wonderful pictures. Just let your eye guide you, look for shadows and lines, play music on headphones if that helps, but just get lost in what appeals to you. If it is raining look for patterns and reflections or on the ground for swirls of colour. Be patient, most street photographers find a nice spot and wait for something to happen; an interesting character or a juxtaposition of images. Read books about the masters such as Saul Leiter and Vivian Maier, look at their photographs and don’t be discouraged. Learning anything takes time, sometimes you will come home with a lot of great photos and other days, not so much.
You can find out more about Tricia Darling at www.triciadarlingphotography.com.