“The Way We Were” is a photographic journey down the memory lane through the vast collection of work by the iconic Keith Macgregor that throws you back to Hong Kong during its prime: namely the 70s and 80s. This series bursts with nostalgic street scenes steeped in colonial and local culture, city panoramas and images of life on the sea in full color and black & white.
Importantly, it also shows a selection of Macgregor’s latest series titled “Neon Fantasies”: a passion project where the artist imagines a reverse reality where the city multiplies in illuminated neon signs. Photographed street scenes are digitally collaged with photographs of the greatest, now mostly lost neon signs creating Blade Runner-esque images that are simultaneously historical and futuristic.
In fact Macgregor’s own life story exemplifies the era in question, full of playful ambition, entrepreneurial spirit, chance encounters and good old hard work. “The Way We Were” expresses a city abound in color, diversity and optimism, a documentation and flashback to a time where the “Hong Kong Dream” was forged and people went “all in” on the game of life.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Keith Macgregor has been photographing Hong Kong for nearly 50 years. He comes. from a family with long-term connections to Hong Kong and China, his great-grandfather having arrived in Shanghai in the late 1850s where he set up Caldbeck Macgregor Ltd, a wine & spirits importing business which eventually opened offices all over Asia, China & Hong Kong (1884). Keith was educated in England from 1954, finishing up at Oxford University in 1964. In 1970 he returned to Hong Kong to set up as a portrait and later a commercial photographer which led to the creation of his publishing business, Cameraman Limited. The books, calendars, and postcards published were very successful. “An Eye on Hong Kong”, first published in 1997, sold out 6 editions. His 2nd book: “Neon City, Hong Kong, at Night ” also sold out and became a collector’s item. A “50th Anniversary of photographing Hong Kong” edition is in the pipeline, as well as a book of his Panoramic images. Despite having lived in London for the past 26 years he returns frequently to take photographs of Hong Kong’s ever-changing landscape.
Photography Friday is a regular feature from Shanghaiist in association with Photography of China, Marine Cabos’s fantastic platform about photography and photographers in China.