Photography to Me is a Bittersweet Journey

Photography to Me is a Bittersweet Journey

Jeremy Cheung is a freelance photographer from Hong Kong. Passionate about his city, he draws inspiration from observing and sharing the way in which the city, nature and people interact. Jeremy looks for compelling visual appeal, capturing candid unrehearsed moments and urban stories and a strong contrast between static and moving elements. What started as a side hobby over 15 years ago has become a full-time job; he works with clients from global brands as well as exhibits his work independently. His photographs are featured in the Trope Hong Kong Edition.

The challenge to make ordinary things special and meaningful – that is my drive and inspiration to shoot. Reading photo books, visiting photo/art exhibitions, staying connected with local/world news are always potent to keep me inspired.

I started off as a fan of Fan Ho after visiting his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong back in 2012. His work has a huge influence on my later photographic work, especially the use of light and composition, as well as my growing interest in capturing my city. Over the years, Henry Cartier-Bresson, Alex Webb, Joel Meyerowitz, Hong Kong based Michael Wolf, Paul Yeung, Ching-ping Lau, Ming-Chong Tse – all have inspired me in different stages of my creative journey.

Hong Kong is a diverse, ever-changing, fast-paced city – be it the physical landscape, urban development or political situation. Every day, there are artifacts disappearing as well as newly inserted. The challenge of adaptation alone makes Hong Kong a unique place for photography. Also, it is my home and I feel it is my responsibility to use photography to capture her well.

At the very beginning, I was more focused on creating visually pleasing pictures. Then I wanted pictures to tell stories of a place (sometimes with and without people). For the past few years, I have been collecting various series that highlight different aspects of the city, using symbols or phenomenon to tell such stories.

A few years ago, I was in Temple Street near the Jordan district, shooting at night. I was stopped by some members of the triad society who asked me to delete the photos – they even tried to beat me up. Luckily, I managed to escape after deleting the few photos I took, which were actually normal captures of a food stall!

I always try to avoid being pigeonholed into a certain genre, such as landscape, street or architectural photography, as I believe executing a body or work should be concept-led and dynamic. In general, I like to explore life in urban settings, sometimes using nature as a backdrop to attenuate the duality of living in a city full of urban-nature boundaries. My approach is usually to capture the candidness of a place without interfering with my subjects.

Jeremy Cheung Trope Hong Kong

Jeremy Cheung Trope Hong Kong

I always try to add a layer of analogy to my photos, in most if not all of my work, whether it is related to social, political or generally human conditions. I hope my viewers can somewhat connect to my intellectual process or mood in creating an image, apart from the visual aesthetics.

I have been a freelance photographer for about 3 years, mostly based in Hong Kong, but I occasionally have photo projects in other parts of the world. I graduated with a psychology degree, minoring in geography, so I guess my photos are a blend of both – to tell stories about how humans live within the surrounding environment. 

I love to hold urban photo walks in my city, which has become a source of income as well. I had four solo photo exhibitions from 2018 to 2020, each adopting a different theme and photographic style. I also work on commercial/architectural projects and collaborations. I’ve been fortunate to work with clients including National Geographic, Canon, Leica, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Germany Tourist Board, Hong Kong Tramways, BMW, Rosewood Hotels, Red Bull.

Social media is a great tool to share my work with the world, as well as connect with talented people around the world and around town. Because I started using Instagram relatively early, I’m fortunate that I have built up a good supporter base. At the same time, I’ve gained the opportunity to exhibit work in local venues, meeting friends who are also passionate about photography. I have developed my own photo-posting style and habits through the years despite constantly evolving. However, Instagram is usually visual-led (especially with the algorithm now), which makes it hard to share photos that are more arty, boring or experimental. I tend to share those photos in my exhibitions or by other means.

I use various kinds of cameras: Canon DSLR, Ricoh compact camera, iPhone, various film cameras. Different cameras are more specialised at capturing different genres or moments or feel. The photo content can be similar, but the visual representation can vary by using different cameras.

Jeremy Cheung Trope Hong Kong Edition

Jeremy Cheung Trope Hong Kong

Photography to me is a bittersweet journey (an exercise, or challenge) of expressing myself through the process of capturing external happenings, mostly candid and unrehearsed. It is the quest for meaning and the response to things happening around myself, through transforming intangible thoughts and feelings into tangible photos and drawings. It is a game of representation.

Recently, due to COVID19 and spending more time at home, I have been practicing sketching a lot, starting with drawing my own photo work. No one knows, given that the world is getting more unpredictable day by day. I just hope that I will still use photography to freely express my thoughts and values.

Shoots with: Canon DSLR, Ricoh compact camera, iPhone, various film cameras.