Exploring Hong Kong and Singapore Through Portraits

If you look at a map, you will see that Singapore is fairly close to Hong Kong, with only a three-hour flight to travel between these cities. Hong Kong has been described as “a cool place to go if you want to see Singapore minus the money and plus the dirt” by anonymous SAS student who has traveled between Hong Kong and Singapore for many summers. I had the privilege to travel to Hong Kong and take portraits of the people I saw. I also did this in Singapore, looking at the people and capturing their lives. In this photo essay, I will share with you my pictures from both Singapore and Hong Kong and explain the differences in these pictures, contrasting these two powerful cities.

I had the privilege to travel to Hong Kong and take portraits of the people I saw.

Credit: Will Staley Photography

The first picture on the left is in Singapore and is a woman standing on a street corner after exiting the Louis Vuitton store. She is wearing gold hoops, trendy jeans, and a top from Urban Outfitters. Compared to the old man in Hong Kong on the right, she has money and therefore power. The man is wearing old jeans and a worn-out flannel. She has a Prada bag, and he has pockets to hold his phone. Although both of these people may not seem very different, privilege is shown through the woman’s clothes. According to iconic YouTuber Emma Chamberlin, some of the trendiest clothes right now are from Urban Outfitters right now.

Credit: Will Staley Photography

The next group of pictures is of people walking down busy streets. On the left is a woman walking down Orchard Road in Singapore after getting bubble tea while wearing a Prada scarf around her neck. This woman also had on new Gucci shoes along with a gold necklace around her neck. She is also drinking bubble tea, which according to Channel News Asia, is the most liked and popular drink in all of Singapore. The man on the right in Hong Kong was also wearing expensive clothing from his time, specifically an Olde English hat (Olde English 800 was a very expensive liquor brand in the 60’s). Both are very well dressed for their generation. These pictures show the significance of the clothes in different generations.

Credit: Will Staley Photography

The final collage of photos is of a rich Singaporean and a poor Hong Konger who both are dressed in blue but vastly different. The woman on the left is wearing an expensive YSL belt whilst carrying a Prada bag. The man is barefoot and has more bags than the woman will ever own, even if they are trash bags. The woman wears heels with gold buckles, and the man wears broken plastic glasses. The privilege here is very apparent.

The man is barefoot and has more bags than the woman will ever own, even if they are trash bags.

Although it may seem as if these places are on other sides of the world, they are only three hours apart and hopefully, someday, privilege can pass around the world and the differences of these pictures can be less stark.

Author: Will Staley

Will Staley is currently a senior and this is his second year working for the Eye. This is also his second year living in Singapore, having moved from St. Louis, Missouri USA. Will enjoys photography and has a photography website (willstaleyphotography.com). He hopes to pursue photography and journalism for his college and career, while being involved in his passion of politics and humanitarian work. He can be contacted at staley774011@sas.edu.sg.

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