Photography is a hobby for lots of people around the world. Many photography lovers are into their hobby because there are many nice natural sceneries or interesting people to shoot for. In Hong Kong, photography lovers seem to have a different preference as to what people like to shoot. Except for the “using smartphones to take pictures of food” fever, the cameramen in Hong Kong are known for shooting a particular object: women.
Those cameramen, as known as amateur cameramen, take photographs for leisure mainly and they could have different full-time occupations. They’re called “龍友” (pronounced as “long yau”) in Cantonese, a slangish language from the phrase “salon fans” which means “photography fanatic”. They’re known for their desire to shoot photographs of young girls and teen models in Hong Kong, as well as their introverted personality as being a “homey boy”. They are considered not very social and they don’t talk a lot, but they are really into photography and use it as something for getting reassurance and boosting their confidence.
The amateur cameramen always invest in a professional DLSR camera paired with a good lens. The places “long yau” like to go taking pictures can be everywhere, from the streets, special festivals, to the beach. You can find them taking photographs of random people (girls I mean) on the streets. But because they’re not social, they usually dress in very subtle ways and sometimes they could look very sneaky. For example, I saw them on the beach and they’re wearing windbreaker, cap and long cargo pants (under 30+ degree Celsius). I also saw them during special festivals such as Halloween and they wore the same outfit (windbreaker and long cargo pants) but with a mask and they took pictures of women wearing provocative outfits with exposed skins.
Those sneaky cameramen could imitate the professional ones too. They flock to product previews of whatever brands that hire teen models for demonstration and catwalks to take photographs. One could get confused whether those “long yau” are actually professional cameramen from an established newspaper or magazine. The difference is “long yau” and the professional cameramen from a media is that the former take photographs for their own entertainment, the latter take photographs for work.
The sneaky cameramen could get commercial too. Those “long yau” would line up with girls who just want portrait photographs of themselves for fun. The cameramen would charge those girls a minuscule amount from HKD1,500 – 3,000 (not sure about the rates now), then the girls will get beautiful photographs, and the “long yau” will get photographs with beautiful girls inside, and an addition to the cam-man’s portfolio. It’s a win-win for “long yau”. The mose pretty photographs stack up to their portfolio, the more inquiries they would get from young women who want portrait photographs of themselves.
The long yau phenomenon started to become popular during the past 5 years in Hong Kong. Although they are the “amateur cameramen” at first and they only do photography for leisure, now they’re getting into more business-oriented and would establish their own studio and inviting models to go there and shoot. Yet, going commercial still isn’t the real joy for those “amateur cameramen”. It seems to me that they use their photography skills to capture the beauty of the women, especially young women, and so they can savor the amazing photographs, share them to the online photography forums or discussion boards, and get very famous online, instead of offline.
The situation described here might not a bit extreme, but the fact that “long yau” use photography to get assurance and confidence could be quite understandable. They could just be a lonely soul inside and enjoy watching TV dramas and playing video games at home. But they work hard to build their reputation and kingdom online through the beautiful photographs they have taken. They get praised and complimented on well-known photography forums. They might be a loner in life, but they’re their own photography king online.