Picture: Photographers' Profle

Picture: John CHOY

John Choy

Born in 1966, Choy worked as a photographer for a number of newspapers, magazines and the Information Services Department of the Hong Kong government between 1989 and 2001. He has published his works in the Hong Kong Photographers and is currently working as a freelance photographer.

I had never lived in a public housing estate nor set foot on Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate before. I had no connection with her until July 2008 when we were unexpectedly linked together owing to my work. From then on, I 'lived' there on and off for two and a half months.

I understood that the residents of old housing estates do not usually open their doors to 'outsiders'. The idea of becoming a 'kaifong' (neighbour) sprang into my mind - to be caring and involved with full sincerity. I would always greet and chat with them before pressing the shutter. I would not take any pictures if the person involved was unwilling. I always delivered the pictures taken to them afterwards as promised. Finally, I gathered enough courage to hold my camera in position because I was already a 'kaifong' of the estate. To me, it is more meaningful to get along with the residents in a sincere, respectful and faithful manner than to keep the historical records.

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate with which I have come into contact was not like any public housing estate. Instead, she resembled a rural village, judging from her brimming human touch and rich Chinese traditional customs.