Week 6 -Research On Documentary Photographer - Benny Lam

Benny Lam graduated from the Ontario collage of Art and Design in Canada, he is proficient in creative communication through graphics and pictures. He is a commercial photographer from Studio Inline; it is a photography studio with over 20 years experience working on fashion, editorial, property & advertising projects. From Benny Lam’s personal website it shows 5 categories of photography he is focusing on; advertising, interior & exterior, fashion, Journey , and the most famous international project which won 5 worldwide awards in 2013, the Subdivided Flats. This is a voluntary project that use photography to reveal the edge and invisible side of the community since 2012.


Subdivided Flats

Word from the Benny Lam

“What I saw is that a kid’s home is limited to a simple bed. It is where he sleeps, have meals and does his homework. The kids have nowhere to play, except for the corridor, the shared kitchen and wash rooms, places outside of their home. I would like to capture all these by camera.”

Trapped, 2014

Benny Lam took photos from aerial view for a campaign ‘TRAPPED’ by the Society for Community Organisation to highlight the plight of poor people in Hong Kong cramped into tiny rooms, often subdivided flats and living in inhumane conditions. The series has been extensively received local and international media attention in over 30 regions. However, due to the public housing has been in short supply in Hong Kong, people who is elderly, jobless and single people, they can’t afford the expensive rent. Therefore, they have to lives in subdivided flats, a tiny 28–68 square feet space (people said is a shoe-box) without any choices; residents go about their lives in these confined spaces, sleeping on one corner, storing their belongings in a third, and perhaps watching a TV that’s found in a fourth (PetaPixel, 2013). All their daily life is squeezed in this tiny space.

Behind the hustle and bustle, Hong Kong is facing serious gap between rich and poor. Through the exhibition that held by the Society for Community Organisation, Benny Lam and three young people were volunteering to use photographs and videos to disclose the housing problem and deplorable living condition that is increasingly worse in Hong Kong. Benny Lam used his unique perspective to present cage homes , board room of the cramped environment; highlights the crowded dwelling in each photo which barely see the ground, as every inch of space is either full of personal belongings or occupied by people.

Sub-divided house can be said that is the unique product of Hong Kong. The sub-divided room was partitioned by the owner into at least two other smaller independent units for sale or rent.

The reason that I choose his work is because it really shocked me, the theme is very clear, no matter the truth of the reality of the living environment or the perspective of the images. Because of all the images were took in aerial view, it has broke the traditional way of human documentary photography, he used a very unique angle to create the pictures. Benny Lam said it in an interview that the process is extremely complex, he have to go to the location scouting and light metering before the actual shooting. On the actual day, they had set a flash on side , put up iron bars on the ceiling , install the camera , and then pull a wire down and pressing the shutter at the side. As the area of the room is too small, therefore it took lots of effort to take the images. The aesthetics and the lighting in all the images has emphasized the sense of space with a dramatic feeling, the light projected on the subject evenly to allow viewers to have a clear view of the room. The images is a platform of silent complaints; from the composition of the images, it makes like viewers are look down to a little box, which is the real scene, people are living in subdivided flats.

This series has raised the public and government awareness and concern over the issue; Benny Lam hope to change the social injustice also help the underprivileged people to escape the predicament.

Not only this series of images, Benny Lam worked with Kwong Chi Kit, a senior Art Director to create miniature ‘cage people’ as part of the charity’s anti-poverty campaign.


They brought visual image to actual sculpture into the society and the street, it exposes and brings the impact of the problem of the inhumane living condition among underprivileged people.

In addition to this cooperation with SoCO , Benny Lam also visited Mongolia, Mumbai, India , Bangladesh with ORBIS to visit the poor households who came across child patients suffering from eyes diseases. Although he is a commercial photographer, he care about the society and the world, he care about the poverty, he uses photographs to expose the sides that people overlooked.

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