One Hundred Strangers
The stories of a hundred strangers i'll meet within my lifetime.
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This is Elly again, I met up with her again one afternoon I had free.
She began training under a photographer and working for a videographer, just like she said she would last time we met. She’s definitely got her own vision, and she’s learning the basics now so that she can turn these visions into reality. She’s also picking up some hobbies she left off a few months ago again, and she says she enjoys it.
I really needed the chat with her at the time we had it. She reminded me that even if things aren’t going the way you hoped they would, there’s always something good that you can take away from it.
She told me that she’s really happy with everything right now, and that things are going well. I really hope that they continue to go well, and that maybe I can learn to see my days in the same light (not that things are going bad, but they could be better). There are a few people I’ve made friends with in Hong Kong that always make me happy after meeting up with them, because they make me feel as if I can create a meaningful relationship from scratch in a place and culture that’s foreign to me, with people who are foreign to me. These people tend to hear me vent, cheer me up, and give me hope. Elly is one of them.
I snapped this photo on my way home from Mong Kok, where I met up with her at the new PoLab branch there. She told me about a lady that sells great Dragon’s Beard Candy nearby, and we went to get some. She was looking away as I framed the shot, but right before I snapped she turned around and laughed at the fact that I’m always taking photographs.
Leica CL | Voigtlander 25mm f4 Color Skopar | Kodak Ektar | Lab ScannedView Original Here

Stranger 23 of 100
Hillary and I were grabbing a late dinner at Slim’s, a pub by Admiralty Station bordering Wan Chai and Admiralty. As I was finishing my beer, the waitress asked if it was okay for a man to join our table (a common thing in Hong Kong). We said “sure!” and the man sat down, and replied “Don’t worry, I won’t be long.” 
We began to chat for a bit, the man told us he was from Singapore, and that he made films and his wife was a journalist. To my surprise, he only made horror films. I had a phase where I really enjoyed horror, so I asked why he chose horror. 
"If you shoot action, no matter how good you are you can’t out do Transformers. If you’re shooting art films, you’re only catering to the French. Tell me if I’m wrong (and I’ve always wanted to ask young people like you this question), but I believe Horror is the only genre where the viewer and director are on the same page. You walk into a cinema expecting to have the shit scared out of you, and the director only wants to have the shit scared out of you." He saw horror as a universal language of film, no matter where you are in the world, what culture you come from, you can enjoy a horror movie, you know what you’re getting. 
I told him that Hillary was not a fan of horror, and he told me his wife was much the same. “When we watch our movies, she’s always covering her eyes. I’ll squeeze her hand before a scary scene comes on. The way she watches horror is like if you were to watch porn without the sex!” 
He asked us what field we’re in, to which we replied “architecture.” He looked at us and said “I was about to roll my eyes at you, I thought you’d be bankers. Hong Kong has nothing but bankers, everyone comes out of school to be a banker, everyone is chasing money. I get this cold sinking feeling in my heart when I meet cool people and they tell me they’re bankers.” I asked him why, and he said “Bankers make money off other people’s money, it’s parasitic. They only chase money. Make something with your life.”
We got talking about what I wanted to do with my life, how I wanted to try and pursue a life with photography as a major aspect in it. He told me this: "Never chase money. There’s a couple million people in China chasing money right now and they’ll be doing it better than you can. You’re sitting here getting a drink right now, and someone’s out there driving a cab. If you chase money, you can’t win. Find something you think you’ll be good at, look for the best in that field, and make a goal for yourself. If this person won an award at age 32, then you gotta ask yourself ‘can I do the same?’ You have to make sure you’re in the ball game." 
We continued to chat for a bit, just about random Hong Kong activities. Before I left, he finally gave me his name, Kelvin Tong. Earlier in the night, he suggested I watch his film “Rule #1” (Dai yut gaai is the Cantonese pronounciation). Before I left he looked up at me and said “Reach for the top!”
Nikon D2H | Nikkor 28mm f3.5 AI-SView Original Here

Stranger 22 of 100
I got to know Thibaut a bit over a quick lunch at McDonald’s. The McDonald’s in the Hopewell Centre is usually packed during lunch time, so it’s not uncommon to find yourself sharing a table with a stranger; I found myself sitting across from Thibaut.
Every time I see a foreigner in Hong Kong, I always wonder where they’re from and what brought them here, so I asked.
Thibaut is from France, and came to Hong Kong to start a business with his friends. He told me that there’s a big enough French population here in Hong Kong to have a thriving market, and it’s much easier starting a business here than in France.
Thibaut arrived in Hong Kong two days ago, and this is his first time here. He is now trying to find an apartment before the weekend, when his girlfriend is flying in. “I thought rent in Paris was expensive, but it’s much more here!”
He asked me if I was from Quebec, and if I spoke any French. I wish I did, it’s a shame I don’t remember much from high school. I don’t remember much from high school. He also asked if I’ve been to Europe, to which I sadly replied I haven’t.
"I’ve been to America a lot, I used to study there. I studied in LA, and worked as a lifeguard at Disneyland. I met all kinds of people from around the world."
I told him I’ve never been to California, only eastern cities like New York and Chicago.
"I love Chicago and New York… Michigan Avenue is beautiful."
I told Thibaut that my favourite part of Chicago as Michigan Avenue, especially at night when the buildings were all lit in different colors.
I found it kind of amazing how two foreigners in Hong Kong could somehow meet and share so much with one another over the course of ten minutes, and how two people from very different places can end up in the same places and share similar experiences. Thibaut was one of the few strangers I’ve met that carried the conversation with me, asking about me as much as I ask about him. Maybe our personalities matched enough to create a a brief moment of friendship.
Leica M8 | Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 Super Wide Heliar
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Stranger 21 of 100
Chronologically, Elly should actually be Stranger 22, but I haven’t found a way to scan the photo of Stranger 21 I shot on the Polaroid SX-70 here in Hong Kong yet!
PoLab, a Polaroid boutique in Wan Chai, has become one of my favourite places in Hong Kong. The people are kind and passionate about what they do, and it seems like I make a new friend almost everytime I go!
Sundays are a little quiet in Wan Chai, and I didn’t feel like shoving my way through the packed markets at Mong Kok or Sham Shui Po, so I decided to pay PoLab a little visit.
Elly was the only one working there, and it didn’t seem like a lot of customers were coming in. I asked her a few questions about the Polaroid 110 conversion they had in stock that I so badly want, and we ended up spending over an hour chatting about Polaroids, photography, cinema, and of course, Hong Kong.
Elly’s my age, she hopes to be a Director of Photography/Art Director one day. Her favourite art director is William Cheung (Cheung Suk Ping) who often works with director Wong Kar Wai. She told me that together they create wonderful modern movies with a genuine vintage feel reminiscent of Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour. She told me to check out her favourite film,The Double Life of Veronique, because it “really sinks in every time [she] watches it.”
We shared a few photographers as well. She showed me the work of some chinese portrait photographers, and I showed her Bailey, Avedon, Mary Ellen Mark. It turns out we’re both fans of Daido Moriyama!
Elly is leaving PoLab in a few months and getting an internship with a studio photographer in Hong Kong to learn the basics of photography. She currently only uses Polaroid cameras and pack film, she says she doesn’t know how to use digital and doesn’t think she’d like it anyway!
One of the most memorable things she shared with me was the story of a top tier student in Hong Kong. This student had graduated from one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious universities at the top of his class, but he didn’t take a high-paying professional career like everyone else in Hong Kong would expect and work that hard for. His passion was in buses, so he became a bus driver.
As of late I’ve been wondering if I want to become an architect. Maybe it sounds strange but ever since I was a kid, my goal in life was to become a father and raise a happy family. I don’t know many architects who have the time for children.
Meeting Elly was a pleasure, one of the nicest things that has happened during my past two weeks here in Hong Kong. I wish her the best of luck with her passions, and hope to see a film with her name on it someday!
Leica M8 | Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 Super Wide Heliar

Stranger 20 of 100
I met Li on the Toronto subway system way earlier this year, but I just took forever to finish the roll and never got the chance to scan these negatives!
Our train stopped at moving at a station, and a bunch of cops ran by our car. A bunch of passengers, including Li, rushed to the doors to see what was happening. When I asked what happened, he told me a man with a bike got arrested.
"I have lived 38 years here in Toronto, and this is the first time I’ve seen this happen" he said.
Li was a traveler in his earlier years, but it seems as if he settled down in Toronto. He was born in India, lived in China, then moved to Hong Kong, living in the Jordan district for 5 years before setting off to Europe. Li traveled all across Europe before coming to Canada in 1975.
Li is a welder by trade, a profession that allows him to make decent money and travel as welders are often in demand in all parts of the world. He wanted to live in Australia, but had no blood relatives there. He said immigrating to Canada was easy because of his ability to speak English and his profession as a welder.
Li’s daughter is a dress maker, and his son is a computer engineer, all of them have very different professions!
Li was heading to Niagara Falls that weekend. He said his friends like to gamble, and they invite him out once a year to join in. Li doesn’t like to gamble much, but goes to spend time with his friends.
Zorki 1 | Canon 35mm F2 | Arista Premium 400 | Epson 4870
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Stranger 19 of 100
Zoey is a photographer from Cambridge!
She got her start in photography shooting stills for film productions. She found joy in that so she began to take photographs for a living.
Zoey now runs her own business shooting weddings here in Cambridge!
I ran into Zoey again after snapping this photo, and I’m sure I’ll see her more in the coming months :)
Check out her work at
Glad to have met you, Zoey!
Zorki 1 | Canon 35mm F2 | Arista Premium 400 | Epson 4870
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Strangers 17 and 18 of 100
Another of Dan and Liz :)
Pentax 6x7 | 150mm f2.8 | Fuji Neopan Acros | Epson 4870
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Strangers 17 and 18 of 100
Meet Dan and Liz, two cool cats from Cambridge!
Hillary and I were out one evening looking for a site for our project, and we came across two teens sitting on a blanket on a small bridge that lay over a stream.
The girl had a guitar, the boy was listening to her play. They were sharing two bottles of wine. I approached them and asked if I could photograph them, to which they gladly agreed.
When I asked them if they were on a date, the boy, Dan, quickly said “no, no, no, we’re just hanging out”. I sat with them for a bit, and chatted.
Liz told me that she busks in front of the local Giant Tiger and LCBOs every once in a while, and it turns out she knows a girl from my school through a yoga studio they go to.
Dan was extremely friendly and out going. “Should we pose for the photo? I want more more natural photos, more candid” he said when I asked for the photograph.
It made my day meeting a photographing Dan and Liz. It’s nice knowing that there are such nice and positive people in the normally dreary and kinda sketchy town of Cambridge.
Pentax 6x7 | 150mm f2.8 | Fuji Neopan Acros | Epson 4870
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Strangers 15 and 16 of 100
This is Kael and Mikela,
I met them at the Storm King sculpture garden. Mikela was carrying an Olympus OM-D with the 25/1.4 Summilux, the same kit that my friend Wesley was using that day. I borrowed Wesley’s camera and ran up to her, starting a conversation about the matching cameras.
I had on me my M8, Wesley’s OM-D and Hillary’s Yashica Mat 124 at the time, all of which she took great interest in, especially the Yashica.
The two were visiting Storm King from New York City. Kael asked me where I was from, to which I replied “Canada”. He told me that I seemed like a Canadian because Canadians were more open and friendly.
Leica M8 | Canon 35mm f2
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This is Stranger 6 again!!!
On a whim, I decided to buy a Polaroid SX-70 from Craigslist. I figured it would be a fun summer camera, and I’ve always enjoyed instant film. Having a physical copy of a photograph is much better than viewing a jpeg on a screen. Plus, it’s always nice to have something to show your friends :)
Little did I know that I’d be seeing James again! The SX-70 he sold me was untouched from it’s original state (unlike the refurb ones Impossible Project sells), with original box, case, and manuals!
He saw that I had a 4x5 with me, and told me that he had been shooting with 5x7 and 11x14. He suggested I get a Chamonix press camera for street photography :)
Graflex Crown Graphic | 135mm f4.7 Graflex Optar | Arista 400 EDU | Epson 4870
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