I stumbled upon this meat market whilst walking around Wan Chai, across the water on Hong Kong island. At least, I think that’s where it was in HK – part of the pleasure of wandering aimlessly looking for subject is not really knowing where you are. The area was full of interesting shops and market stalls on the street – or so I recall. I’ve always loved shooting in markets – especially when they’re down and dirty. The smells, the colours, the noise, the array of curiosities – and, of course, the people. Shooting wise, markets can be difficult subjects because there is often so much going on and so much stuff about that without a clear subject, the impact can be lost in the minutiae of the scene. The lighting in indoor markets can also be hard to work with – especially when they are dark and the subjects lack clear illumination.
In this case I got lucky on all counts, with a clean shot of a clearly illuminated subject and nice lighting all round. But it’s rarely for technical reasons that I like a photo, and in this case, it’s really all about the eye-contact, the appearance of the man in his apron, and the hanging lights. Great colours and a fortunate, if slightly asymmetrical arrangement of the elements. I remember feeling very much caught out after taking this (I have several of this fellow, actually, though this is my favourite) and being slightly worried that he might shake a cleaver at me and tell me to clear off. Instead I wheeled off pretty quickly and had that great and rare feeling of knowing I was going to like the photos I’d just taken.
All in all, this was a great visit to Hong Kong (July 2009) at the end of a six-week trip through Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. I’d been feeling very low for a few days for various reasons, but clear skies over HK and awesome subject matter all round cheered me up no end. It was very satisfying that, after having taken thousands of photos throughout the trip to this point, my favourite ones should come right at the end.