Young Hong Kongers go­ing ana­logue

The China Post - - FEATURE - BY AARON TAM

In a city crammed with neon-lit tech stores, smart­phone ven­dors and high­end cam­era shops, a dig­i­tal back­lash is mount­ing as young Hong Kongers seek out an old-fash­ioned ana­logue ex­pe­ri­ence.

Hong Kong is a buzzing mar­ket for cut­ting edge tech­no­log­i­cal of­fer­ings, with queues around the block for the latest iPhone or tablet.

As con­sumers fo­cus firmly on the new, there has been lit­tle de­mand for old- school gad­gets — retro col­lectibles are much harder to find in Hong Kong than in other ma­jor world cities, where vintage stores have long been a shop­ping sta­ple.

But in­ter­est in the pre-dig­i­tal era is grow­ing as the city’s younger gen­er­a­tions seek out ev­ery­thing from film cam­eras to vinyl records in re­sponse to the hi-tech del­uge.

“We are con­stantly bom­barded by an end­less stream of ad­ver­tise­ments for the new­est and latest gad­gets in our ev­ery­day lives, says So­nia Ho, 24, who works at an ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign firm.

“The func­tions of a ra­dio, type­writer or even a light me­ter can be easily down­loaded onto our smart­phones ... but we’re los­ing the idea of how a par­tic­u­lar item ac­tu­ally works,” said Ho, who now prefers a sec­ond-hand Nikon FE2 film cam­era to the dig­i­tal mod­els she pre­vi­ously used.

“It’s like be­ing as­signed to con­tinue the ad­ven­tures of the cam­era from the pre­vi­ous owner and start to cap­ture your own,” Ho said.

Sense of Cu­rios­ity

A grow­ing num­ber of younger pho­tog­ra­phers in Hong Kong are ex­per­i­ment­ing with old film cam­eras — some painstak­ingly scan­ning their film photos onto a com­puter to share on so­cial media feed In­sta­gram. Ho shares hers un­der the han­dle @so­ni­ahyh.

Tinny Kwan, who owns a film pro­cess­ing store pop­u­lar with young pho­tog­ra­phers in the residential area of Prince Ed­ward, says they are start­ing to dis­cover the joys of de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

“It’s like the feel­ing of gam­bling. There is a sense of ex­cite­ment right up un­til you can see the photos ... with dig­i­tal, you can see it im­me­di­ately, that sense of cu­rios­ity is lack­ing,” says Kwan, whose shop is pop­u­lar with young pho­tog­ra­phers.

There is also new in­ter­est in vinyl from mu­sic fans who have only ever known CDs or dig­i­tal, says Mr Chan, owner of record shop Col­lecta­bles in Cen­tral dis­trict. Chan’s col­lec­tion spans hun­dreds of clas­si­cal, jazz, rock and Can­tonese pop records.

“If you have al­ways lis­tened to dig­i­tal, you may not have ex­pe­ri­enced the au­dio char­ac­ter­is­tics (of a vinyl record) be­fore,” says Chan.

“When you lis­ten­ing to the vo­cals, you re­al­ize there is some­thing more in the record­ing.”

Brows­ing the vinyl sec­tion at the HMV mu­sic store, which also sells vintage records and re­prints, 15-yearold high-school stu­dent Alvin Fan said ana­logue al­bums have given him an al­ter­na­tive way to lis­ten to mu­sic.

“It cre­ates a dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere, a dif­fer­ent mood and a very dif­fer­ent feel­ing,” said Fan, who was in­tro­duced to vinyl records by his grand­par­ents.

‘It feels more real’

Zachary Chan, 21, who works at a mu­sic store, says it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fash­ion­able for young Hong Kongers to turn to records over dig­i­tal.

“The value of a vinyl record is stronger in a sub­jec­tive sense — hold­ing a record in your hands, rather than see­ing the dig­i­tal al­bum on iTunes. There is a dif­fer­ence,” Chan said.

The resur­gence of film cam­eras and vinyl is part of a grow­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence sim­ple plea­sures in the face of a quick-fix dig­i­tal lifestyle.

Some teens have re­verted to send­ing post­cards to their friends as a more sat­is­fy­ing al­ter­na­tive to email.

And the city’s book­stores are of­ten crammed with read­ers, young and old, de­spite the mul­ti­tude of down­load­able e-books.

Vinyl fan Alvin says he prefers phys­i­cal books to e-read­ers.

“A lot of peo­ple, even my friends, still love the feel­ing of hold­ing a phys­i­cal book and read­ing it. It just feels more real,” he said.

Decades- old store signs, an­tique ra­dios and old cin­ema chairs are just some of the items crammed into 34-year-old Lai Chun-fai’s small store in Prince Ed­ward, a vintage aes­thetic which is not yet main­stream in Hong Kong.

“I just feel that the de­sign of older items is more in­ter­est­ing than mod­ern ob­jects,” says Lai.

While it may look like a vintage trea­sure trove, the only things for sale are the ana­logue cam­eras, Lai’s spe­cialty — hence the name: Clas­sic Cam­era Shop.

“I wanted to dis­play older cam­eras that not many oth­ers have seen in Hong Kong,” said Lai, who first started selling old Leica mod­els.

Shoot­ing on film is a hap­pier, more mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence, he says, and one that is lur­ing some young­sters.

“They have told me they re­mem­ber the mo­ment when they take the photo on film. As a re­sult, they don’t re­ally look at the photos they took with their smart­phones any more,” says Lai.

“The pic­tures I took ten years ago ... I still re­mem­ber what was hap­pen­ing in that pho­to­graph.”


This pic­ture taken on July 31 shows Ho Hing Ming sort­ing vinyl at his record store on Lamma Is­land in Hong Kong.

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