Interview with Chi Fai Chow | Hong Kong; Los Angeles

Hello Chi Fai Chow, we are very honored to have you as our featured street photographer on Street View Photography.

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself to begin with.

My name is Chi Fai Chow. I am from Hong Kong but currently based in Los Angeles. I am an engineer in the fire protection industry. I have 4 years of experience in photography. For me photography is a way of inventing stories, I find it very interesting when imagination & reality come together to create something new.


Looking at your incredible pictures, I ask myself: Where does your creative drive come from?

I am always chasing the light and get inspiration from my everyday life. I like taking pictures of people. I think that there is an indefinable energy that happens when a person gets in front of a camera, and I feel a sense of liberation when I am behind it.


Have you been involved with the arts in some other form?

I was interested in drawing when I was a child.


How did you first become interested in street photography and how did you start?

I figured out that there are endless possibilities going on in the streets and I think my passion started there.


What equipment did you use then and what are you using now and why did you switch?

I started out with the humble Nikon D80 in 2009. After I dropped my beloved D80 into the sea, I have used a couple of cameras before settling down with the Ricoh GR Digital IV. I think the simplicity of this camera works perfectly in street photography. I also own a Sony 5N camera for traveling.


Has your style of shooting street photography changed since you first started?

My photography, somewhat subconsciously, shifted from shooting documentary to more self-expression. I liked taking a accurate exposure and well composed picture in the early stages of my photography career, but those kind of pictures are just a piece of images without soul. I don’t worry about those technical things now.


What would you say characterizes your work in comparison to other street photographers? What do you think of street photography compared to other genres?

Although all my shots are street candid, I do not try to portray a reality. I use photography to find relief, delicacy and self-acceptance. Light and shadow play strange games in my pictures and as a result the characters in the photo become fugitives. I also do some in camera double exposure when my imagination drives me there. I don’t like to follow the general trend. I always shoot in black and white these days. Photography is a form of communication.


Do you often interact with your subjects and if so, before or after you take the picture?

I think the only time I interact with my subjects is when I am traveling in another country. That is the time when I would like to know more about a different culture.


Do you see your personality reflected in your work?

Absolutely. Photography is a medium to express. When I pick up my camera, I became lost in a world that I discovered looking through a lens. I always try to reflect my emotion and my thoughts about the society in my work.


What do you think about color street photography in comparison to B&W?

Photography is a form of communication. You just have to find the most comfortable way to express your thoughts and ideas


Among your works, which is your favorite and why?

I think they are all unique. Each one of my photos is a small moment, and they will all add up to one life, and I really hope people see that; it’s not just about being beautiful or pleasing to the eye.


What would you tell a newcomer who asks you for advice?

Do not be afraid to provoke the general trend. There is importance in attempting new things. Photographing strangers in public won’t deserve increased attention or respect, especially when it is obvious that the photographer has no real interest in the subject. Photography is a form of art, so don’t limit yourself in a set of circumstances. Try to develop your own distinct vision to see the world in your own way. To get a strong impression from your audience, you should be capable of showing them your personality, life and thought in the picture. A just well-composed picture won’t get too much attention from me or others I think.


Thank you Chi Fai Chow

It is my pleasure.

See more of Chi Fai Chow’s work here.
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