A few weeks after I reluctantly moved away from Hong Kong, I spent my New Year's eve sending hundreds of photos to designer Janet McKelpin at ThingsAsian Press. The Man and I were ringing in the holiday on a beach near Melbourne, but missing Hong Kong.
We toasted with wine we'd picked up at a vineyard on the drive down from Sydney. I showed him favorite photos I was submitting for my chapter of Janet's book, Lost and Found:Hong Kong
"Look at this one – remember that couple who owned the dofu fa stall next to our place near the beach?"
It was a severe-looking photo – but captures something about their generation and all the hard work they did (and still do) that has helped to make Hong Kong what it is today. Around thirty years ago they moved to the island from mainland China to make their Cantonese treat for a captive market: the builders of Lamma Island's power station. Their dofu fa is a delicious and healthy dessert, wonderful hot or cold, a silken soft tofu with ginger syrup.
taking a break from closing up the Doufu fa restaurant to pose with the book, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
I rarely take photos of people, but their King Hing restaurant was such a part of my daily life in Hong Kong, and of the island, I was happy Janet included it in the book.
When an artist makes work, the satisfying final stage in the circle is at the exhibition, or when a collector takes it home. With a photo book, a project is finally complete when those in it finally get to hold it in their hands. After all, it wouldn't have been the same without them.
Last week I got back to Lamma to give the couple their own copy. They were really excited! Their reaction — part enthusiasm, part embarrassment — made my weekend, and maybe theirs, too.