Hor Kwok Kin
b. 1939, Ipoh  -

Hor Kwok Kin FRPS, APSS (1939, Ipoh - ) arrived in Singapore in 1958. A chef by occupation, he first worked at Loong Yick Kee Restaurant in Bugis before venturing out in the 1980s to open his own cze char stall. Through an advertisement in the phonebook, he discovered and eventually purchased his first camera – a Leica M3 – after saving five months’ worth of salary. A picture of Marina Bay in that same year marked the beginning of his decades-long career as a photographer.


Hor persisted in his pursuit of photography, albeit curtailed by his hectic work schedule, spending almost every waking hour on his off days and during rest hours with his camera in hand. Notwithstanding that he was unable to afford the equipment and services the wealthier photographers had access to, Hor thought out of the box and converted the toilet of the restaurant into a darkroom to facilitate his film processing using an original chemical concoction in replacement of the conventional developing agent.


Hor Kwok Kin’s works could be classified alongside other modernist photographers such as his friend and mentor, Cultural Medallion recipient Yip Cheong Fun. Heavily influenced by humanist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s pioneering street photography, Hor captured the scenes of everyday Singapore with a strikingly modernist composition. More than mere aesthetic expressions, his pictures serve as important archives of Singapore in the 1960s-70s as well. His identity as a working-class photographer proved to be a leverage that allowed him to effectively record moments that are intensely empathetic to the subject, such as a restaurant worker and hor fun manufacturer, setting him apart from many of his contemporaries.


Hor’s oeuvre stands as a testament to his dedication to art. In recognition of this, he was awarded the Associate Membership of both The Royal Photography Society (United Kingdom) and the Photographic Society of Singapore in 1986. He was further promoted to the esteemed position of Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1992.


摄影师何国坚 透过光影磨砺粗糙岁月. (2020, March 01).

Retrieved from Lianhe Zaobao website.

在酒家做杂工的 皇家摄影学会博学会士. (2019, October 10).

Retrieved from Lianhe Zaobao website. 

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