Chan Dick (陳的) is a commercial photographer whose personal works have received as much as, if not more, public attention than his commercial works. In 2014, his photo series “No Compromise” portrayed student activists who were aspiring to make social progress in Hong Kong’s political scene. And in 2015, his photobook, titled “Chai Wan Fire Station,” was published. The book utilizes a picturesque, birds-eye view to great effect. We present to you a small selection from this award-winning series as well as a little background on how the project came about…
It all began with a commotion in the toilet. One day, Chan was busy at his workshop when he heard a noise coming from the bathroom. Curious, he opened the window and looked down below: firemen playing volleyball! For the next month, Chan dedicated himself to observation. Bit by bit, he discovered the routine of this small, unusual space: professional training in the morning, volleyball in the evening (to unwind). In between, there were some kindergarten field trips, a few special training exercises and then the occasional official inspection.
In Chan’s words, “the scene is surreally picturesque for a coincidental discovery…[thus] I decided to pick up my camera and capture the scenes of the fire station—rare to the public eye—through the tiny window.”
After 15 months of careful shooting, Chan had accumulated some 1,500 photographs. After careful editing, he had his selection down to a mere 30. His careful efforts were rewarded with a first prize in that year’s Hong Kong Photo Book Awards.
Surprisingly, despite many years as a resident of Hong Kong, Chan has mixed feelings about his home. As he describes it, “In the years of commercial photography and location scouting, I have witnessed unique Hong Kong landscapes being replaced by identical new buildings. The newer the place and building, the harder it is to find beautiful ‘lines.’ … [nevertheless] The shrinking freedom of art expression motivates me to create more personal work. My task is to turn dull flatness into beauty in my photographs.”
Editor’s Note: Chan Dick’s photographs was shown at the Angkor Photography Festival and Workshops, which ran from December 5 to December 12, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The event was part of the IPA (Invisible Photographer Asia) special evening, dedicated to Hong Kong and Taiwanese photographers.