Uncover: Hong Kong Through the Eyes of SurrealHK

Sometimes all we need is that one picture to inject that little bit of humour into the very surroundings of a city that engulfs us, to make us double take and actually pay attention to what we’re looking at on our glowing screens. From the skyscrapers to the waters surrounding Hong Kong Island, we couldn’t help but take notice of the work that simultaneously entertains with nostalgic charm and brings our attention to more serious matters such as pollution. We spoke with the man behind the lens, Tommy, to find out a little more about how and why he started SurrealHK.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Tommy. I was born in Hong Kong, but I lived so many years in South America. I worked as a social event and portrait photographer before coming back to Hong Kong one year ago.

When and how did you get into photography?

I studied graphic design before becoming a photographer. I started doing photos when I was creating a web site and needed some photos for it.

When did you first decide to start your surrealist project?

Four months ago I started the SurrealHK project. I saw so many people in Hong Kong who seemed to be unhappy with too many worries. So, my goal was to make people laugh and see things from another perspective, as well as show the world how great this city is.

What kind of gear do you use?

Mainly I use a Canon 5D III, for aerial shots I operate a DJI Phantom 4.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photographs?

That knowledge is more important, not the equipment.

What does photography mean to you?

A powerful medium of artistic expression.

Whose work has influenced you the most?

No one specifically. I prefer not to look too much at what other visual artists are doing and create my own style.

How long did it take you to perfect your Photoshop techniques?

My Photoshop skill is quite basic. I learned most of it on internet tutorials! Maybe that’s why it takes me too long to finish a piece of artwork.

How long does it take to complete each photograph?

Normally five to six hours. Sometimes it takes me 15 hours or more.

Where does your inspiration come from? How do you decide what landmark to manipulate and how to manipulate it?

I find inspiration everywhere. Whatever I see, i try to imagine something funny for it, or look at it from another perspective.

So far, which image has been your favourite to work on? Why?

It’s hard to choose just one. The levitating Buddha, the mini-bus with turbines and the beach at Central are my favourites because they look so real.

What captures you the most about the city of Hong Kong?

The diversity! You can find almost everything here.

Can we hope to see different destinations being featured in your work in the future?

Maybe one day, but not too soon. I still have so many ideas for Hong Kong!

We absolutely loved the manipulation of the egg tart! Seeing that image summarised our childhood dreams. Is it one of your favourite snacks?

Absolutely! It’s hard not to love egg tarts!