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Family photographs with a difference

If you are an expat living in Hong Kong, getting a family photo shoot to capture your time in the city is a great memento for the years to come. Photographer Frederik Jacobvits offers a family photography session with a difference – one which aims to truly capture your life in Hong Kong. Intrigued? We sat down with him to find out more about his concept.

Your photos are unique; what inspired you to take this approach?

People nowadays tend to take thousands of iPhone photos, half of which are lost, some are terrible and for the most part nothing is done with them.

My concept of “your life photographed” is based on the idea of old family photo albums, and on the lack of a good “documentary” of how my life used to be when I was small. I was the youngest son of a diplomat family and we used to move around a lot; and, although I do have some photo albums, most consist of “highlights” such as birthday parties, Christmas, summer holidays and so on, but not day-to-day life. How cool would it be to have a photo album of how life actually used to be – from waking up in the morning till the bedtime rituals – and so the concept was born.

Family photography - Frederik Jacob Vits

You’ve travelled to Hong Kong four times over the last two years; tell us more about the work you do.

I capture the lives of expat families in their natural setting, and in a timeframe of a few days, through photographs of everyday situations and rituals that make life so unique and worthwhile. My job is to get those un-posed, real life images and document those situations to last a lifetime. Through my photographs, I try to capture the personality and character of the individual family members and the interactions between them in their natural surrounding. I find that real life photography in which the soul and energy of a family is captured can be spectacular, and tells a fuller story than staged family portraits. Every time I finish an album I’m surprised at the number of activities that take place in just a few days and the variety of photographs they produce. Even when nothing happens on a lazy Sunday afternoon, this was how the day was spent and it can give some beautiful images. I find that life, as it is, is more than worthwhile capturing.

Family photography - Frederik Jacob Vits

What do you hope to achieve through your work?

My goal is to make a photo art-book that lasts a lifetime and that can fill certain memory gaps an adult might have 30 years onwards.  Images that might answer questions like: Did we eat breakfast together? How did I go to school? What did I do with my friends? How was my class? What was Dad and Mum’s workplace like? What did they do during the day? These are just a few things that I want to capture; also, daily routines that you might find annoying now can be something you cherish most later in life – something as simple as brushing your child’s teeth.

Family photography - Frederik Jacob Vits

The feedback I get from my clients is that, during the process, families become very aware of the little things in life because I put so much focus on capturing them. As an outsider I can objectively see how beautiful certain rituals are or how loving a parent can be to their child, and the typical gestures that go with it. These are the things you feel as a child and as a parent and hopefully the photographs will bring back that feeling. So in the end I hope to deliver a book with spectacular and personal photography that will touch the family on a deeper level, one that will bring back memories, emotions and feelings instead of just a good photo. I also hope to photograph many more families all over the world in the coming years. It’s a fascinating way of photographing and it never gets dull.

Family photography - Frederik Jacob Vits

To find out more, visit frederikjacobovits.com.

See more in our Living in Hong Kong section!

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This article first appeared in the February/March 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.