Culture

Fan Ho, Legendary Hong Kong Photographer, Passes Away

Fan Ho, 84, passed away from pneumonia on Sunday 19 June 2016 in San Jose, California.

Themes + Projects, a frequent exhibitor of Ho’s work in San Francisco broke the mournful news, “It’s with great sadness to announce the passing of Fan Ho. With almost 20 years of working with Fan Ho on countless exhibitions and three publications, Themes+Projects and Modernbook Editions will dearly miss a man we called Mr. Ho.”

The celebrated photographer was born in Shanghai in 1931 and spent much of his adolescence with a camera after his father gave him a Rolleiflex twin-lens camera at the age of 14. In 1949, the family moved to Hong Kong where Ho would begin to shoot some of his most iconic work.

The family resided in MacDonnell Road, an affluent neighbourhood in Central district where Ho documented light, shadow, and the daily lives of residents in the years leading up to Hong Kong’s massive urban development and restructuring.

His photography from Hong Kong’s classic period has famously won Ho nearly 300 awards from international exhibitions and competitions worldwide since 1956.

However, Ho was also a multi-talented artist who studied literature and Chinese poetry in college, he later made a name for himself in filmmaking as an actor and director. Unfortunately, he would not find commercial success in the Hong Kong movie industry and quietly retired in the 1990s in California.

In a 2014 interview with The Independent, Ho would say, “Filmmaking is my profession, photography is my passion…I love photography more because I have more freedom of expression, no pressure from the box office.”

A statement from Fan Ho’s family:

Fan Ho was invited by 12 Universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong as “Visiting Professor, ” teaching the art of filmmaking and photography. He wrote five books with one of them containing all his award-winning prints, currently a permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.

Fan Ho: A Hong Kong Memoir is his latest book published by Modernbook Editions. Further, Fan Ho was an accomplished and acclaimed Hong Kong film director. He won the “Best Film Award” in Banbury International Film Festival in England.

Three of his films received the “Official Selection” of the International Film Festivals of Cannes, Berlin and San Francisco; and five of his films were selected in the “Permanent Collection” of the National Film Archives of Taiwan and Hong Kong. He was also a judge of the Taiwan Golden Horse Film Festival and Hong Kong Oscar Film Award.

These diverse cultural backgrounds made Fan Ho’s creative style so unique, full of lyrical beauty, dramatic power, and poetic grandeur.

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Seen in photograph, Fan Ho

The family will hold a small ceremony and respect privacy and peace in this difficult time.

Title photo: Afternoon Chat, 1959 / Fan Ho

Images used with permission. Copyright Fan Ho, 2016 courtesy of Themes+Projects.