Street Photography Guide in Mong Kok 旺角 at Night
Mong Kok is a very unique neighbourhood that is unlike any other places in the world, the closest equivalent that I can think of is the intersection at Shibuya, Tokyo. The city is also known as the ‘movie town’, it has great cinematic scenes, particularly for staging gritty gangster-driven fights. I would describe this top attraction in Hong Kong as a river with quick current. The place is packed with fast walkers, and if you are new to the city, you might be taken aback by their pace. General to the local culture, people may find it abrupt and intrusive if you try to capture shots up close. However, I do have a few tricks that could help you enjoy this photography heaven in a different way.
As an every day local street photographer, I would recommend the following spots if you are next in town.
Entrance of Ladies Market (CineStill 800T)
Is Ladies Market the Best Place to Start?
Some of you might think that the Ladies Market is the most attractive part of Mong Kok with the neon lights and the buzzing local traditional entertainments such as mahjong shops and massage parlour. I do agree with it in some way but for me, I like the Ladies Market at late nights, around 10pm, when the owners of the stalls start to pack up for the day, load the unsold goods onto the small carts, and move them back to the storage. This shows a very different side of the streets than its usual opening hours. Another habit of mine is to walk down the side aisles, the combination of dark corners and street lights give you more perspectives and angles to play with, this is the perfect opportunity for you to be creative.
Sample of portrait taken in Ladies Market with CineStill 800T
Shanghai Street Adventure
But if you want something more adventurous and a true local life experience, Shanghai Street is the place for you. It is two streets from the Ladies Market, near the Langham Place. It is full of traditional billboards and neon signs with prices of the different entertainments. I think you might have figured by now, it is a red light district. It is an exciting neighbourhood but just take extra caution when you are shooting at night and keep check of your belongs.
It is not hard to approach people and ask to take portraits
One of the best places to have top view in Mong Kok
In just a few streets away, there is a Park-In Commercial Centre. Go up the car park lift to top floor, walk out the double doors then go straight, you should soon see the open roof with a panoramic view that oversees the streets of Mong Kok packed with street performers and passer-bys.
One of the big billboard of Satay King in Ladies Market
Suggested Map of Mong Kok
- Ladies Market
- Shanghai Street
- Park-In Commercial Car Park
- Footbridge at Mong Kok Road
Shopping heaven for everyone
Small Photography Tips in Mong Kok
- Having a smile on your face. Nothing beats a genuine smile, be it you are a foreigner or a local. For someone who grew up in the city, western photographers tend to have an advantage over the locals, they get to win their hearts easier when it comes to photo taking, they find tourists less intrusive.
- Off finder (zone focus) increases you successful rate of getting a decent candid shot on the street.
- Pick a spot, frame and wait.
- Watch your shutter speed, better keeping it in your safety shutter to avoid vibrations.
- CineStill 800T is best for a place like Mong Kok, it gives you that cinematic look.
Some minibus drivers playing chess during leisure time
TAHUSA recommended path
Come out of Exit D of the Mong Kok Station and go straight. Once you hit the Ladies Market, turn right. Walk till the end of the Ladies Market, remembering to explore in between the stalls and side allies. Cross the street and up the car park lift of the Park-in Commercial Centre for the top view shots. When you are back on the ground level, cross to the opposite side and try out some tasteful local food. Take the same path down the Ladies Market until you are at the end of the street. Turn left, pass the intersection and continue walking towards the Langham Place. When you hit Langham place, turn left and enter Shanghai Street. When you have seen enough for the day, enjoy a cold local brew beer at Tap Ale Project.
Travelling like a local
If you are interested to understand more about other areas in Hong Kong, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org