Street photography tips
Our Instagram feed tends to be at its most colourful whenever we’re overseas – where every nook and cranny of foreign places seems photo-worthy to the curious eye. Now that travel is only possible in the not-so-distant future, our very own city has become the canvas for creativity.
Those who’ve been missing Hong Kong – the land of legendary dim sum, beautiful skylines and natural landscapes. While we wait patiently for borders to open up once again, here’s a way to gear up for your future trip to Hong Kong: practice your photo-taking skills here in Singapore. Here are street photography tips on how to do so:
1. Mong Kok – Jurong Point
Shoot from a lower angle to play with perspectives
Most shops are open during the day, but it’s worth it to visit after sundown when the street is vibrantly lit by neon sign boards
Image credit: @grszkm
Were you really in Hong Kong if you didn’t check off the famous Mong Kok from your to-go list? One of the biggest shopping districts in Hong Kong, it’s characterised by iconic neon lights, a blend of old and new buildings, dim sum restaurants and affordable massage parlours.
Shoot from a lower angle to highlight overhead neon lights
What it looks like: Mong Kok street in Kowloon district
What it really is: Jurong Point Mongkok Street
We shot this in a typical heartland mall, which actually has its own dedicated street that imitates the appearance of Mong Kok. However, at the real deal, you’d have an endless list of things to do like shopping for sportswear and electronics, sampling delicious street food, and discovering colourful street art.
Image credit: @gildellyow
Pro tip: Shoot from a lower angle with your camera to focus on the neon board signs, which is the hallmark of Mong Kok street.
2. Victoria peak – Mt Faber peak
Set aperture to a higher F-stop for greater definition
Victoria peak in Hong Kong
Image credit: Google
Victoria Peak in Hong Kong is one of the must-visits for every tourist. Standing at 552M above sea level, this is the highest point of the island where you’ll get a panoramic view of the skyscrapers and lush greenery at the same time.
This place is a great representation of the beautiful country – which has something to offer to both city nomads and outdoor enthusiasts. Nature-lovers can check out more outdoor things to do away from Hong Kong city to KIV for your next trip there in the not-so-distant future – some of these trails are a mere 20 minutes away from the city!
Practice capturing the perfect wide-angle shot at Mt Faber Peak
What it looks like: Victoria peak
What it really is: Mt Faber Peak in Singapore
To reach Victoria Peak, you can choose to take the iconic Peak Tram, or simply trek up at your own pace for a morning workout. The fresh air and spectacular views you get on top makes it all worth the effort.
Left: Singapore’s Mount Faber Pic; right: Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak
Image adapted from: @jmilavec
Pro tip: Those using cameras can set your aperture, which is the “pupil” of your lens, to a higher F-stop. This helps you achieve a shot with more depth and sharpness for a landscape shot.
For those using phone cameras, you can still achieve this by ensuring the proportions of your photo are balanced. Go into settings > camera > grid to overlay a tic-tac-toe grid to compose the scene with the subject at the intersections of the lines.
3. Nam Shan estate – Blk 513A at Upper Cross Street
Use props to create more layers in your photo
Nam Shan estate in Hong Kong
Nam Shan estate is a famed photospot in Hong Kong for its iconic architecture and the hoop-shaped playground right in the centre of it. You can get creative with your poses by interacting with these structures. Meanwhile, the cool colour palette of faded blue, green and yellow will set the mood for your backdrop.
The surrounding area of Nam Shan Estate
The estate is representative of the typical residential blocks you’ll see all over Hong Kong. Apart from City University of Hong Kong and Lion Rock Hill down the street, there’s a hidden gem nearby not to be missed – a local wet market, which brings you back to the good ol’ days with faded signs and authentic sights of locals selling their produce.
HDB blocks at Upper Cross street
What it looks like: Nam Shan estate
What it really is: Blk 513A Upper Cross Street, next to Chinatown Station
Pro tip: Use props to create more layers in the photo. We used a rounded water bottle handle to give the photo more depth. We also used an umbrella – apart from keeping your hands busy, it also gives you shade from the scorching sun.
4. World’s 2nd longest travelator at Ocean Park – Jewel link to T3
Use curved walls as a backdrop for a fisheye lens effect
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
When it comes to infrastructure, Hong Kong holds records for 2 interesting things: the world’s 2nd longest travelator at Ocean Park, and the world’s longest indoor escalator at Central Market. Both these places are hidden gems to snap unique photos, if you find flattering angles either from the centre of the escalators, or from the sides.
The Jewel Link at Changi Airport T3 has similar curved panels to practice those poses with
What it looks like: World’s 2nd longest travelator in Ocean Park, Hong Kong
What it really is: Jewel Link to T3
The Central-Mid Levels escalator stretches a whopping 800M
With any visit to Hong Kong, you’ll most likely find yourself visiting both escalators. Hong Kong Ocean Park beckons with exhilarating theme park rides and aquariums, while the Central-Mid Levels escalator is located near the iconic clubbing district of Lan Kwai Fong.
Pro tip: To add more dimension to your photo, shoot from a lower angle and use curved backdrops to get a fisheye lens effect.
5. Mido Cafe = Central Hong Kong Cafe
Utilise natural lighting to optimise complexion
Image credit: @angelineinwonderland
Whether you live to eat or eat to live, authentic cha chaan teng fare is a must eat when you visit Hong Kong. Nestled in Temple Street is Mido Cafe, a homely cha chaan teng that’s untouched by time.
P.S. If you’re missing Hong Kong Food, Central Hong Kong Cafe in Singapore has authentic fare such as traditional stocking milk tea ($3.50) and fried beef hor fun ($10.90).
What it looks like: Mido Cafe
What it really is: Central Hong Kong Cafe at Vivo City
Image credit: @motosachiinagaki
It’s decked in nostalgic tiles and colourful windows, so you’d feel like you’ve been transported back to the good ol’ 80s era when Andy Lau was at his prime. Lots of natural sunlight streams in from its windows, making it an ideal spot for chio IG shots.
Pro tip: Since you’re at a cafe, drop the usual poses and just relax and enjoy your meal to capture a candid, natural shot.
6. Ladies Market – Chinatown street
Set your shutter speed to low to get blurred out surroundings
Hong Kong’s Ladies Market is every shopaholic’s heaven, offering wallet-friendly prices for trendy apparel, bags and accessories. Here, you can put your Chinese language to test as you try to bargain for the best deals.
This was taken at Chinatown street in Singapore, where you can learn how to use crowds to your advantage when snapping photos
What it looks like: Ladies’ market
What it really is: Chinatown street
Apart from great bargains for knick-knacks, gadgets and apparels, you’d also get to watch lively street performances that give the place its unique character. Adventurous souls can also try out fortune-telling at the booths at the market, just for fun.
Ladies Market is a maze of stalls so be prepared to wander around for a few hours while you’re here
Pro tip: Find an area with lots of activity or wait for the crowd to come*. Set your shutter speed between ½-1s and get your model to pose as still as possible. A tripod would be ideal to get maximum stability for the perfect shot.
*Do remember to practice safe-distancing of at least 1M apart from others.
7. Hong Kong Observation Wheel – Singapore flyer
Use a longer lens >85MM and up to compress the backdrop view
Image credit: @miramiissu
The best way to get a 360-degree view of the city is on an observation wheel, and the iconic Hong Kong Observation Wheel, located at the harbourfront, gives you just that. At nightfall, the wheel lights up with bright blue and pink tones, and makes a great subject for a photo.
For landscape photography at night, keep an eye out for opportunities to capture light. To achieve that, use slow shutter speed to capture the motion of these surreal light trails.
What it looks like: Hong Kong observation wheel
What it really is: Singapore flyer shot from Marina barrage’s rooftop
Hong Kong observation wheel
Image credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board
The Hong Kong Observation Wheel is part of AIA Vitality Park, where you can soak in some carnival vibes with a carousel and snack booths at the Central Harbourfront.
Pro tip: Use a longer lens that’s more than 85MM to compress the background and focus on the flyer and yourself instead.
8. Avenue of stars – Marina bay sands
Use buildings for a more dynamic background instead of white walls
Avenue of stars
Image credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board
Another iconic spot in Hong Kong is the Avenue of Stars, a breezy boardwalk by the river that overlooks the metropolis. Whether during the day or night, it’s a romantic, chill stretch to take a stroll.
What it looks like: Avenue of Stars
What it really is: Marina Bay Sands, right outside the new floating Apple Store
A boardwalk next to the sea with a glorious view of the city skyline is the recipe for a romantic night out. Visit Avenue of Stars with a loved one and interact with your surroundings for an engaging shot. Be sure to factor in enough time to catch the famous light show that plays over the bay each day at 8PM.
Spot the legendary Bruce Lee at the Avenue of Stars
Image credit: @avenueofstarshk
Pro tip: Typically, we use white walls as a backdrop to capture our OOTDs – but to switch things around, use the skyline instead. The different heights of the buildings and 50 shades of blue make your photo look more dynamic.
Get Hong Kong-level aesthetics with these street photography tips
Image credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board
Hong Kong has always been a go-to destination for many of us, seeing that it’s a short 4-hour flight away. With everything from a thriving city and tons of entertainment, to iconic cuisine and gorgeous natural landscapes, this travel gem ticks all the boxes to get some R&R over long weekends.
Not to mention, the city is brimming with opportunities for both travel and street photography.
Visiting Hong Kong will soon be a reality for us – seeing that a Hong Kong and Singapore travel bubble has been agreed upon.
As we wait patiently for the start date to be announced, you can live vicariously through @discoverhongkong‘s new AR Filters featuring icons that will let you “travel” to Hong Kong’s icon Victoria Harbour, busy streets with neon shop lights aglow, and cha chaan teng. You can also try out their latest AR filter – HK Foodie Challenge, to see just how many HK snacks you can eat in a limited time frame.
Play around with these filters as you plan your Hong Kong itinerary!
Everything we sorely miss about Hong Kong
Image credit: Liang Shi Nan
Till we can travel to Hong Kong, we’ll make do with what we have here in Singapore with these spots to take IG-worthy photos. Take note of these street photography tips the next time you’re planning to replicate a Hong Kong travel itinerary around Singapore!
This post was brought to you by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Photography by Pichan Cruz.