7.4 million is the number of people inhabiting Hong Kong where the living spaces are ever-shrinking. Photographer Peter Stewart shows us how it is like to live in one of the most densely populated places in the world.
Hong Kong is a heavily packed urban city. The combination of a large population with a relatively small land size makes the sky one of the few feasible options available to accommodate its residences. While the housing prices continue to climb, micro-apartments, those that can be as small as less than 100 square feet, are the only available affordable options for the people.
Working and shooting in Hong Kong since 2009, photographer Peter Stewart has since then fallen in love with the city and started the project “Stacked” – A combination of his love for photography and a desire to see parts and viewpoints of the city that are often not explored by tourists or ignored by even those who live there.
“This was around the time Instagram was really starting to take off. Through there I was able to meet other local photographers who shared the same interests. We would have meetups and take each other to popular or unknown photography spots to point our cameras upwards towards the skies.”
“It was immensely rewarding to be around other gifted local photographers. As a foreigner, it was crucial to gain access to particular locations. I would also spend hours on Google Maps scouring areas of the city looking for new or uniquely shaped buildings or patterns.
As I started taking more pictures, more thought was given to factors like patterns, reputation, lines, symmetry. It was then that I started to see things a little differently. It influenced me greatly in how I search for and find new locations to shoot.”
As Hong Kong’s population density and how that reflects in its architecture are a popular subject for many photographers, Peter started to focus on his personal style in order to make his photographs stand out from the crowd. He digitally produces and manipulates his images, making use of vibrant colors and deep textures to place his work on the edge of fantasy.
By capturing the city and its wonders mostly at night, he overwhelms the viewers with a high dose of different multicolored windows, hanging clothes, and air conditioners, which altogether provide an almost hyperrealistic look to the buildings’ facades.
“Visiting many of these estates is like walking into a private microcosm. You will find both residents relaxing and exercising outside, as well as elderly people gathering to play games like “Banqi”, a variant of chess. It can be a thriving place to live.
It may also come as a surprise to many that Hong Kong has a lot of large public parks and gardens within its urban environment. The chance to escape the hustle and bustle is usually just a few minutes walk away.”
Peter also aims to overwhelm the viewer with his pictures. In some of them, he does so by highlighting the thousands of details present in the structures. In some others, he focuses on the simplicity of the framing and makes them appear more abstract.
“Shooting these images has been rewarding for me as a photographer and taught me a lot about composition and technique. There is something about the details in the density of architecture that attracts me.
All you have to do is look up!”
Peter Stewart is currently based in Hong Kong. His interest in photography comes from the time of his backpack trips around South East Asia. The sprawling cities he visited triggered his desire to document the beauty and chaos in photos. Entirely self-taught, he has been working as a professional photographer for ten years. Peter has slowly built up a reputable portfolio of award-winning images, establishing himself alongside some of the worlds best-known travel photographers.