Fan Ho was known for his exceptional photos of Hong Kong’s changing urban landscape in the 1950s and 1960s. Many even called him the “Cartier-Bresson of the East.” So, it’s not surprising that many street photographers continue to turn to his work for inspiration. This is especially the case for those who are leaning towards the narrative visual style.

But, if you’re new to Fan Ho or have never seen his photography before, UK-based Tatiana Hopper made a great introduction in her video above. She begins with a powerful statement from his 2014 interview with Edmund Lee for the South China Morning Post. This, perhaps, is the most striking part, encapsulating the groundwork for his emotive street photography:

“I need to be touched emotionally to come up with meaningful works. When the work resonates with the audience, it’s a satisfaction that money can’t buy. My purpose is simple: I try not to waste my audience’s time.”

After some quick facts about his beginnings, she dissects the intent of storytelling that became central to his visual style. Many of the scenes he photographed had so much activity, but he was able to capture dramatic moments of solitude and isolation. In each of these shots, we see a striking emotional narrative that works beautifully in street photography.

One of the interesting facts that Hopper also mentioned is Fan Ho’s filmmaking background, both as an actor and director. It evidently influenced the artistry of his street photography, as every photo looks and feels like a still from a movie. His mastery of composition, lighting and angles is also a testament to this.

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