Apr 23, 2014
Hong Kong Photo Love Story.
"My classic MINI, "NIL," is my first car and my dream car," says Frank Mak, amateur photographer and founder of the Young MINI Club Hong Kong.
When it’s the only thing you can talk about for nights on end and you can’t take your eyes off it, there’s no doubt you’re hooked. When Frank saw his classic MINI "NIL" for the first time that’s exactly what happened to him. He knew straight away there was no use resisting – he had to have it.
Ever since, NIL has not only been a faithful companion on Frank’s daily commute from the New Territories in northern Hong Kong to work in the southern area of Wong Chuk Hang, but also his favourite subject to photograph.
"For me, photography means sharpening your view of the world," explains Frank, who often finds inspiration in vintage objects. "I love that compelling stories often lie behind these objects, waiting for me to simply point my lens at them and tell them." Frank's idol is the old master Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose work – especially his piece entitled "Behind The Gare Saint-Lazare" – has had a significant influence on Frank.
When it comes to choosing his photographic equipment, Frank places a high value on traditional methods and uses almost exclusively analogue cameras. He is convinced that not having a delete button enables him to take one true shot as opposed to countless attempts at achieving that slightly miss the mark.
Frank's circle of friends were immediately enthusiastic about NIL. It’s no wonder, though, given the fact that the car is a Paul Smith Limited Edition. The blue blood beneath the blue paint was plain to see for his fellow club members. In 1996, Frank founded the Young MINI Club Hong Kong (YMCHK), which now has 120 members who share his love for classic MINI. They’ve been known to completely lose track of time and spend the entire night philosophising about their motorised companions.
However, driving is – of course – much better than talking and the YMCHK members enjoy long drives through the city. While they cruise, Frank captures the club in action. His expert eye does not fail to capture the unique details of the vehicles, which reflect the personality of their owners. "From custom dashboards to steering wheels, it is always a real pleasure to photograph these special features and capture their characteristics," remarks Frank.
He especially likes snapping the classic MINI outside Hong Kong's many vintage restaurants and cafés. Although the traffic is often terrible and the city's high population density can be felt at every corner, Frank is full of enthusiasm for his hometown. "I like the calm, peaceful atmosphere in Hong Kong and at the same time, the wealth of information, which flows in from all angles."
He also remains just as passionate about NIL and takes great care to maintain its natural beauty. When it comes to maintaining and restoring their classic MINI, Frank and his fellow club members are extremely careful to preserve the soul of the original. "I simply like everything about the classic MINI – from the exterior to the interior – from the front to the back. All the frills are done away with and each individual part has real importance."
That sounds like we can look forward to many more chapters of the Hong Kong photo love story in the future. If you do not want to wait, you can take a look at the coolest classic MINI in Hong Kong by viewing our photo series – through the lens of Frank's camera, of course.