British photographic history

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First Photographs of Hong Kong

Event Details

First Photographs of Hong Kong

Time: November 27, 2010 to December 27, 2010
Location: Former Central Police Station Compound
City/Town: Hong Kong
Website or Map: http://www.hkphotofest.org
Phone: Hong Kong: 852 - 2801 5311
Event Type: exhibition
Organized By: Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association, Cécile Léon Art Projects
Latest Activity: Oct 25, 2010

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Event Description

"Canon presents First Photographs of Hong Kong" is curated by French scholar Dr. Régine Thieriez and Hong Kong photographic historian Dr. Edwin Lai, presented and co-organized by the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association and Cécile Léon Art Projects, Paris respectively. This exhibition will showcase 100 photographs of Hong Kong in 19th century.

The first stereo view Hong Kong landscape photograph taken by Swiss photographer, Pierre Rossier in 1858 is the highlight of this exhibition. This photograph is considered to be the first known Hong Kong photograph that we can now date with confidence. The exhibition will also showcase landscape and portrait works of renowned Western photographers John Thomson, Milton M. Miller and William Pryor Floyd during their stay in Hong Kong. Through the lenses of these photographers, they take us 140 years back when Hong Kong was in its 19th century and these photographs provide us the best materials to learn more about Hong Kong photography in its early days. Similarly, contemporary social landscape recorded in our daily snapshots as well as photos of "pseudo-models" might also be invaluable in reviewing the Hong Kong photography in future.

Photographers used to hire a few "coolies" to carry and transport their bulky photographic equipment, as well as fragile glass plates, various chemicals, water and even marquees for outdoor photography hundred years ago. Back then, the photographers were using "wet collodion process" in capturing their images. Not only did the photographers have to be very confident with their lighting and composition before pressing their shutters, but they also had to use poisonous chemicals for photo development. The procedures of photo development including coating collodion on glass plate, sensitizing the plate by immersing it in silver nitrate solution, exposing, developing and fixing, rinsing and drying, had to be done on the spot efficiently. When we look at the convenience and the creative possibilities brought by digital photography nowadays, does it change the attitude of people capturing their images? If there are changes, how does the simplicity of image capturing influence our pictures or even our thinking process?

This opening exhibition will be held in a 19th Century building at the Former Central Police Station Compound. Its heritage status makes it a perfect venue for this historical photographic exhibition.

Participating Museums: The Musée, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille, the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, RAS and the Peabody Essex Museum etc.

Photo: Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong 1860-1870

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