Mak Fung: 5: Hong Kong/China Photographers

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Born in Hong Kong at the end of the First World War, Mak Fung's (1918-2009) influence on photography in Hong Kong spanned its most formative decades. Entirely self-taught, from 1950-1980 Mak made a modest living as an accountant at a cotton mill, indulging his passion for photography for many years as an amateur. Eventually blossoming as a professional, he pioneered local photographic writing and publishing in both the artistic and popular spheres. His contributions to Photoart, Photo Pictorial, and the monthly Photography Express were particularly instrumental to introducing photography to a wide audience in Hong Kong and China. In his images, Mak Fung created an invaluable account of Hong Kong's evolution from the 1940s to the late 1990s. His depictions of everyday life in the formerly low-rise districts of Mongkok and Central are startling today. His salon photos of cinema stars of the 1960s similarly impress the modern viewer as poignant symbols of a simpler era. This book reveals only a hint of Mak's mastery of genres, from salon and scenic, to pictorial and grassroots documentary. Nevertheless, these images do more than open a nostalgic window to Hong Kong's past: as a testament to Mak's skill and enduring influence, they compel the viewer to better understand the Hong Kong of today.