Photographer’s Showcase – Coming Back to My Second Home by Garrett Riffal

Photographer’s Showcase - Coming Back to My Second Home by Garrett Riffal


Photographer’s Showcase – Coming Back to My Second Home by Garrett Riffal

I first visited Hong Kong in 2013. The reason I came to the city was to photograph. After shooting in the city for a few years, it was time to leave. But every time I come back, I’d spend most of my time shooting. 

It was only natural that I’d come back to the city post-pandemic to photograph its changes and add to my body of Hong Kong work. Currently living outside the city, it was very shocking to see the changes that have taken place between 2019 and 2023. Not only have places — such as “Instagram Pier” — closed, but the demeanour and demographic of the people have changed, too. As people have become more shy and private, photographing has become harder even in public spaces. To help compensate for this change, I have adjusted my technique — I’ve moved back slightly from the subjects to include more people and background, thus including more context. 

Riding the Star Ferry is my favourite thing to do in Hong Kong. It’s recently rumoured that it may close due to financial troubles. During this visit, I chose to focus more on photographing the Star Ferry and the sailors who operate it.

Most people know me for my up-close, flash-lit photos of Hong Kong. I’ve developed and adapted this method over time to deal with the unique lighting conditions in Hong Kong. Because of the tall buildings, you are often in deep shade at all times of the day. The flash allows you to shoot in shade, indoors or at night. From a creative stand point, I do like the way flash looks. It helps to separate subjects from the background and give an extra level of vibrance to the colours. At night, the flash is essential for taking close-up photos as subjects move fast. 

Overall, I am happy with the images produced on my recent trip, but I feel that more work must be done before I can consider the body of work complete.

Shot with Reflx Lab 400D and Reflx Lab 800, with flash.

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