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Cameron-Wong McDermott - Still Standing - A Tai O study

October 15, 2018

 

 

 

Cameron, a 26 year old amateur photographer currently working as a human rights lawyer in France took up film photography as a hobby back in 2014, helping him to disconnect from his daily work.

 

 

 

Feeling utterly free to explore issues, Cameron set out to produce a short study of Tai O, a remote fishing village located at the outer edges of Hong Kong. 

 

 

Taken using a Canon QL17 camera on Kodak Ektar 100 film, Cameron set out to capture the liminal space within the village that Tai O now inhabits, trapped between its rich history as a fishing village and its uncertain future as a tourist destination. Choosing to shoot this project on film was an important factor for Cameron. Finding digital to be more convenient for more fast-paced street photography, Cameron finds the element of film photography allows him to focus more on the subject and a liberating feeling of having a certain number of shots available.

 

 

 

 

The village, famous for its stilt houses which many call home, was once a major supplier of the city's seafood. After a ban on commercial trawling back in 2012 the thriving industry was largely killed off. With the ban came the death of other local businesses which depended on the industry.

 

As a result, many business owners and workers have left to find work closer to the city centre, with most never returning to Tai O. 

 

 

Tourism has actively been pushed by the authorities as a means of reviving the dying village, however, recent tourism-based proposals, such as a cable car to the village have been met with fierce resistance from the few remaining residents, anxious to preserve the local culture. 

 

 

To this day, the famous stilt houses still stand, yet have fallen into disrepair. Some businesses still lie empty, while others wait patiently for the next hoard of tourists to arrive from one of the few bus lines serving the village. 

 

This is a local community grappling with the issue of how to best preserve its history and culture. For now, the village continues to live with an uncertain future. 

 

 

 

Documenting this village was influenced by Cameron's personal relationship with the Hakka language and culture, particularly after both his grandparents passed away.​ 

 

Both of Cameron's grandparents were Hakka people, a distinct minority group within the ethnic Han Chinese majority, and who lived in a rural village, much like Tai O before emigrating to the UK.

 

Cameron grew up surrounded by this Chinese language but these days the language is on the decline, and is only spoken in small villages like Tai O.

 

 

And what’s for the future of Cameron's project?

 

Cameron says he is interested in continuing to examine these disappearing cultures and traditions as such, with his own background pushing him to pursue a project exploring migrant groups and how their culture begins to slowly disappear as newer generations integrate into wider society. 

 

 

 

 

Check out more of Cameron's work here: @itso_wong 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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