Back to where it all started. Back to the place where I was born. Shooting in Hong Kong with the UK’s best known model David Gandy and re-creating a bit of history for British Airways. Following some recent stints with BA in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, they showed me an old heritage poster from Hong Kong dating back to the 60’s, followed by the question of whether I could recreate an image with a similar feel?
I spent 36 hours on a scouting trip in January, scooping out possible scenarios. And yip, Hong Kong has certainly changed. Drastically! Pottinger Street today, is a far cry from the image on the original heritage poster. The Peak view is blocked with high-rises and the shops replaced with bars (and tasty beer). The impossibly steep steps are all that really remain. Quintessential to the poster were the neon lights and the Chinese promo’s making it so iconically Asian so I was on a mission to find a street with a similar feel. This proved no easy task!
I researched online, walked for hours in the pouring rain, spoke to lots of people and finally settled on one workable junction close to Argyle Street and Nathan Road. Despite being jam packed with regulars, night time shoppers and tourists, it worked.
Key to the shoot is the jacket. David is wearing an original pilots jacket from the BA heritage museum. It even came with the museum curator, in charge of looking after it. Judging from its size, pilots in the good old days must have been tall, super fit and muscular… there was no autopilot in those days so it took real muscle to fly a plane. Along with the jacket came all the old cabin crew uniforms, also from the BA Heritage Museum, the perfect showcase of how uniform designs have evolved.
As you can imagine, the shoot was insanely chaotic and with a crew of 30, we attracted a fair deal of attention. We couldn’t close the road so we just had to manage the flow and make them part of the story. I hired a local team of assistants and studio lights… this was the first time I used Profoto B1 which made a great fit for working in low ambient light. We settled on two frames; firstly an Armageddon style shot and secondly, a more candid hero shot with the light popping out of the subject.
Hong Kong is an amazing vibrant city and the local team was fantastic in getting things sorted. It was a great shoot all round and I hope the content may be used as visual reference in many years to come.