Chinese photographers in 19th century Hong Kong | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Chinese photographers in 19th century Hong Kong

Terry Bennett has written a three-volume history of photography in China in the nineteenth century. He has very kindly allowed us to post the chapter about Chinese photographers in Hong Kong here on Gwulo.

As an appetiser, here are several of the photos from that chapter, many very rarely seen. For the main course, you can read the full chapter at It has detailed information about Hong Kong's early Chinese photographers and their studios, and also many more of their photos to enjoy.



Fig. 6.7. Lai Fong (Afong Studio). ‘Hongkong. 319.
– Queen’s Road Central’, 1870s. Private Collection.




Fig. 6.12. Afong Studio advertisement from the China Directory, 1873.




Fig. 6.13. Lai Fong (Afong Studio). Westerners in theatrical costume,
1870s–80s. Cabinet card photograph. Author’s Collection.




Fig. 6.16. Lai Fong (Afong Studio). ‘Japanese Moosmi 1873’.
Another print of this image is also in the collection of
the Wilson Centre for Photography with a printed caption
label reading ‘No. 28. A Japanese Lady, wife of one
of the principal Merchants in Japan.’ Author’s Collection.




Fig. 6.19. Lai Fong (Afong Studio). ‘No. 267. – Race Course. As seen from
Morrison’s Hill - the buildings on the right are the New Stand, and Matsheds
or Stable, used during race times by the owners of horses. - The length of the
course is 3/4 of a mile - at the rear or foot of the Hills is the
Protestant Cemetery,’ 1870s. Author’s Collection.




Fig. 6.20. Lai Fong (Afong Studio). ‘A Group of all the different Compradores
employed at the European Hongs, in Hongkong’, 1870s. The accompanying
printed caption has the number ‘98’. Author’s Collection.




Fig. 6.24. Lai Fong (Afong Studio). ‘No. 34. Group of
Chinese Actors and Actresses’, 1870s. The original number
has been crossed through in pencil and the new number
‘691’ has been substituted. Author’s Collection.




Fig. 6.29. Lai Fong (Afong Studio). ‘No. 43. “Chang” – the Chinese Giant.
The tallest man in China, he is seven feet eight inches in
height’, 1870s. Author’s Collection.




Fig. 6.42. Ye Chung. Portrait of Zhou Senfeng, proprietor of
the Ye Chung Studio, Hong Kong, 1870s. The photograph is
signed in Chinese characters by Zhou and the mount is
captioned in English ‘Our Artist in China (Ye Chung)’. This is
the only known likeness of Zhou. Private Collection.




Fig. 6.43. Pun Lun. Ornately decorated back of a
typical cabinet card from Pun Lun’s Hong Kong
studio, c.1890.




Fig. 6.47. Pun Lun. Chinese merchants, 1870s. Compare the
studio props with those shown in fig. A95. Author’s Collection.




Fig. 6.50. Wo Cheong (Cheung). Actors, c.1890. Hand-tinted
gelatin silver print photograph. Author’s Collection.


See more of these rare old photos, and read about the men who took them, at


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