Week 6 -Research On Documentary Photographer - Michael Wolf

Michael Wolf, he is a German-born documentary photographer who has been living in Hong Kong more than 10 years. His work focus on the life in mega cities; many of his projects document the urban structure, skyscrapers and the local culture of the city.

He did a portraiture project which is ‘100×100’ ,it documented the internal of one hundred apartment, it is measures exactly one hundred square feet in each apartment from one of the Hong Kong’s oldest public housing which occupied by underprivileged family. He revealed the poor side of metropolis, he captured the inside and the private life of the lower class and the disadvantaged to the public. He captured the whole environment with every details; how all the daily commodities, electrical appliances, table and chairs, bed and so forth placed in a tiny standardized room.

Hong Kong is a metropolis and known as “The pearl of the Orient”, people usually pay attention on the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, the condition of the living environment is rarely show to the world. For a social documentary photographer, camera is a literal recorder to tell the truth and depict the social reality to the world, things that people missed or overlooked. In ‘100x100’, it reflected serious social issue which is housing shortage and poverty problem in Hong Kong. The photos show that there still are a minority group of underprivileged are living in poor conditions in a mega city. Michael Wolf disclose the quality of their life, reveals the living condition of the forgotten social group, raise the awareness and increase the sympathy of the problem in the society. He uses simple and conceptual images to convey the evidence and tell the truth about the real world of human life; shows the other side of Hong Kong, shows how insignificant human are.

Furthermore, ‘100x100’ is not only a documentary but it is also a portraiture. A good portrait capture the expression of the person and freeze that moment in their life, therefore a subject also play an important role in documentary photography. In this series, all subjects look directly into the camera which placed level with them. It seems like they want to tell their story through the camera, catch the attention of the viewer’s and draw their emotion. Photography provides a clear representation of what people see but does not always aware or something that are not easy to show in the public. It awakened society’s conscious and be more helpful and thoughtful to the forgotten people in the society.

Michael Wolf has inspired me to do pantoscopic photo shoot in the elderly house to show their living environment. Other than that, he also inspired me to do a portrait with each of my interviewee, as when I talked with Philis (my 1st interviewee), she said she never take a proper portrait in her life. Therefore, I think it is a good chance for me to do something for them in this project. Not only advantage me, but also they can have something back that they will appreciate.


Michael Wolf (2016) 100x100. Available http://photomichaelwolf.com/#100x100/1

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