Our series of online people profiles covers a wide range of backgrounds, careers and personalities of individuals in Hong Kong. In this instalment, we meet photographer COL SIM, whose fab photos have graced the pages of countless issues of Expat Living magazine!
Where are you from originally?
Both my parents are Scottish, so I guess Scotland would be the easy answer. However, I was born in Singapore and moved to Hong Kong before my third birthday, so people are often confused when I answer that I’m from Hong Kong!
Have you lived anywhere else? Where is “home” for you?
In my mid-teens I moved to Scotland, and although I was there for 22 years, in my heart Hong Kong was still my home and where all my memories from childhood were. I loved my time back in Scotland – it’s a beautiful country and we spent some time on the stunning Isle of Skye during our last holiday. I can’t wait to go back to photograph the jaw-dropping landscapes.
Everything in Hong Kong is so familiar to me; it’s a place where I feel safe and where both my wife and I grew up. In fact, she was the “girl next door”, or should I say girl upstairs! We went to the same school and shared the same friends and Hong Kong is definitely our home.
What do you do here?
I work as a freelance photographer which allows me to have an ever-changing and exciting schedule. I relish the opportunity to photograph events, functions and weddings and the excitement that they provide. Corporate headshots, family shoots and seeking out new scenes for my panorama gallery also keep me busy.
Give us an insight into a typical working day for you.
With children aged 9 and 10, mornings often start with school drop-off, quickly followed by a quick coffee and chat with my wife or a tuition session with one of my private students. Afternoons can vary with headshots at home or in the studio in Central, interior shoots, editing or seeking out locations for new gallery images. The last few months have been spent focusing on my Hong Kong in Motion collection, showcasing the fast pace of the city.
What have been the surprises and challenges of doing business here?
Having been here for 25 years over a span of 48 years, it still amazes me that we can move from the hustle and bustle of a major city and within 10 minutes be in beautiful country parks. As for the biggest challenge in Hong Kong, it has to be walking down the street with an umbrella on a rainy day.
What neighbourhood do you live in, and why did you choose it?
We live in Discovery Bay. In my younger years, I would never have dreamt of this – I was a Hong Kong Island resident for all my childhood. It’s a wonderful place to bring up children – safe, little traffic and good value for money in property.
What are three things you like about your neighbourhood?
With two children, the outdoor space is certainly top of the list with parks, beaches and hiking trails on our doorstep. Second on my list would be the feeling of community; we know so many people here and there is a definite feeling of people wanting to build relationships and help others. Third would be the facilities we have on our doorstep; in addition to the outdoor benefits, we have a great selection of shops, services and restaurants overlooking the bay, which make you feel like you’re on holiday every day.
Describe your home to us.
Functional and tidy. Thankfully, my wife and I think alike when it comes to our home. Everything has a place and we don’t like clutter. For me, the view is the deal breaker – from the 15th floor, looking over the marina and Peng Chau, across Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, right up to The Peak and west to Pok Fu Lam. It’s a photographer’s dream for long exposures and night photography, and I’m looking forward to capturing the next lightning show.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies in Hong Kong?
As a family we do a lot of hiking and almost every weekend we seek out a new trail to traverse with our kids. If we’re not hiking, we try and find more remote parts of Hong Kong to explore – and, of course, I will always have my camera with me.
Quick questions about Hong Kong: what is your favourite…
Casual restaurant? Crystal Jade for its delicious Shanghainese fare.
Date night restaurant? Koh Tomyums in Discovery Bay.
Bar or café? Hemingway’s in Discovery Bay.
Thing to do with visitors? Go on a hike, and visit The Peak, Stanley, Sai Kung or Lamma.
Thing to do with kids? Visit uncharted territory (my kids are happy exploring a new shopping mall as much as a new playground); swimming; junking; beach expeditions.
Nearby holiday destination? Cebu is our most frequented and much loved chillout spot.
Like this? See more Hong Kong people stories in our Living in Hong Kong section