• Afong

    c.1859 - 1940

    Afong was one of the first Chinese photographers to set up a studio in Hong Kong The notable Scottish photographer, John Thomson, held Afong in high regard and complimented him on his work. The business was probably taken over by his son in the 1890s. They took photographs of Hong Kong, Canton, Macau and Shanghai. In the studio they also took portraits. In the 1910 Hong Kong Directory and Chronicle A Fong's Photo Studio was at 31, Queen's Road Central, above Watkin's Dispensary. A Fong, photographer, H.A. Rosario, managing clerk.


    Worswick, Clark & Spence, Jonathan   Photographs Imperial China 1850 - 1912 - Footnotes 23.

    The Daily Press, November 9, 1880 - "Afong , Photographer, D.K. Griffith holds authority to sign, studio Queens Road opposite Hong Kong Hotel. " The reference presumably is to a Power of Attorney, given Griffith by Afong.

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  • Beato, Felix

    1825 - 1909

    Felix Beato was born in Florence in 1825. He became one of the most accomplished nineteenth century photographers and traveled widely. He arrived in China in 1860 with the British expeditionary force. He took some of the earliest panoramic photographs of Hong Kong and Kowloon. He traveled to Peking and took numerous photographs of the war. One of his most famous pictures was of the Summer Palace before it was burnt down.


    He had a studio in Japan in Yokohama from 1864 to 1884 where he also worked with the English artist Charles Wirgman. From 1888 he was working in Mandalay and Rangoon in Burma. In 1896 he set up a studio in Mandalay called The Photographic Studio.  He also had a brach office in Rangoon. A recent discovery of his death certificate showed that he died in Florence on 29th January 1909.

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  • Floyd, William Pryor

    1830 - c1900

    In 1868 William Prior Floyd took over a photographic company in Hong Kong known as The Firm. It was not in fact a firm but a collection of photographic negatives that had been put together since 1859 by various photographers. These included Weed, Howard, Beato, Miller, Thomson and Halsey. Floyd & Co. were at 62 Queen's Road at the Victoria Photographic Company. W.P. Floyd sold his company in 1874.



    Hacker, Arthur and Wattis Fine Art   Hong Kong, A rare photographic record of the 1860s.   1997

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  • G.R. Lambert & Co.

    c.1867 - 1918

    Gustave Richard Lambert was born in Berlin in 1846. He opened a photographic studio in Singapore in 1867. Between 1870 -1877 he was operating a studio in Woerden, Holland. He returned to Singapore and opened a studio at 30 Orchard Road. Although he left Singapore in about 1886 the firm continued until c.1918.

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  • Mee Cheung

    c.1890 - 1956

    Mee Cheung was a commercial photographers who was active 1890s - 1930s in Hong Kong. He advertised himself as a "High Class Photographer". He was known to have taken small snapshot format pictures. These were often views commissioned for documentary purposes.

    Mee Cheung & Co. was a company of commercial photographers who were active 1890s - 1950s in Hong Kong



    Reference: Twentieth Century Impressions of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Other Treaty Ports of China: Their History, People, Commerce, Industries and Resources. London 1908. Page 234:


    Messrs Mee Cheung & Co. of Ice House Lane, Hong Kong who executed a contract for Lloyd's Greater Britain Publishing Company in a manner that gave every satisfaction, are one of the oldest photographic firms in the Colony. They undertake all classes of work and make a special feature of enlargement and bromide work. They stock a large number of views of the neighbourhood of South China, besides cameras, films, and printing papers of all kinds. There is a special department for developing and printing for amateurs. The manager Mr w. Chong Kai, is a capable photographic artist. The assistant manager, Mr Y. Johnson, who has been with the firm since it was first started has had experience in the United States. About thirty hands are employed at the head office, and a new depot was opened recently at No. 8, Beaconsfield Arcade, chiefly for the sale of photographic stores for amateurs. In 1904 the firm obtained a bronze medal from the St Loius Universal Exposition and in 1906 they were awarded a silver medal at the Hong Kong Exhibition held at the City Hall. On the occasion of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught to the Colony, the royal party were photographed by Messrs. Mee Cheung, and copies of the photographs, forwarded to their Royal Highnesses, were cordially acknowledged in a letter to the firm.


    A view along Ice House Lane, off Queen's Road, Victoria, with a row of sedan chairs parked at the right of the street. At the end of the lane can be seen the studio of Mee Cheung, a Chinese commercial photographer who advertises his premises in the 'Directory and Chronicle for China' (1901 ed) as being located at 'Top floor of Ice House'.

    Janus, Cambridge


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  • Miller, Milton

    1830 - 1899

    Marshall Milton Miller was one of the earliest American photographers working in Canton and Hong Kong. Little was known about him until recent research has provided us with more details.

    The American photographer Milton Miller commenced working in San Francisco in 1856. He arrived in Hong Kong in 1860. He was working in Hong Kong and Canton from 1861 - 1864. Miller appears to have had a studio in Canton prior to 19th September 1861. At that date an advert in "The Friend of China and Hong Kong Gazette" appeared asking for assistance in recovering a box of negatives stolen from his premesis in Canton.


    He is known to have taken some of the earliest photographs in Hong Kong.

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  • Thomson, John

    1837 -1921

    John Thomson (1837-1921) was the most important photographer working in China in the nineteenth century. Between 1868 and 1872 he traveled across China and Formosa recording people and places. This was not without difficulties as people were highly suspicious of the “foreign devil” with the magic eye that caught you in his box.

    As a result one of the earliest and most important documentary works to use photography was a book, “Illustrations of China and its People” which was published 1873/74 and was written by John Thomson. He wrote, “My design in the accompanying work is to present a series of pictures of China and its people, such as shall convey an accurate impression of the country I traversed as well as of the arts, usages, and manners which prevail in different provinces of the Empire… Those familiar with the Chinese and their deeply-rooted superstitions will readily understand that the carrying out of my task involved both difficulty and danger... The superstitious influences such as I have described, rendered me a frequent object of mistrust, and led to me being stoned and roughly handled on more than one occasion.

    It is a novel experiment to illustrate a book of travels with photographs, a few years back so perishable and so difficult to reproduce. But the art is now so far advanced, that we can multiply the copies with the same facility, and print them with the same materials as in the case of woodcuts or engravings.”  Thomson used an early photomechanical process known as collotype to reproduce his photographs in the book. 

    Occasionally his original albumen photographs are available for sale.



    Thomson, John   China and its People in Early Photographs  An unabridged Reprint of the Classic 1873/4 Work   1982

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