Stefen Chow - The Poverty Line – Hong Kong

Stefen Chow

Grateful to be a witness through his camera, Stefen is a photographer with an unique eye and effervescent personality.

The Poverty Line project, done in conjunction with economist Lin Hui-Yi, won the grand prize at the Arles Photography Open Salon, and was awarded an artist residency during the Les Rencontres d’Arles. The photographic project has since been exhibited at the Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing, and various galleries in Penang, Singapore and Cologne. It has been featured in numerous media transcending conventional photography-based media, including NPR, Foreign Policy, Xinhua and Singapore Business Times. The project was also presented at [email protected], a global talent search by TED in 2012.

Stefen’s work has been recognized with awards by PDN, Billboard, International Photo Awards, Photographie de la Paris. He, himself, is one of the judges for the Tokyo-based Nikon Photo Contest. His clients include The Smithsonian, Time Magazine, Geo Germany, The Guardian, and various commercial companies.

At the age of 25, Stefen climbed to the summit of Mount Everest; he is a member of the Explorers Club,

Stefen currently lives between Beijing and Singapore.

Stefen Chow
Project Statement

The Poverty Line – Hong Kong

This body of work explores a simple question: What does it mean to be poor?

It is not an emotional statement. It is an examination of the choices one faces living at the poverty line. I work with an economist, Lin Hui-Yi, to ensure factual and statistical consistency. We have documented this project in 16 countries – including Hong Kong – across six continents. We are not trying to compare different countries’ poverty, but rather to have a starting point to understand poverty within a country’s context. For developed countries, where there is relatively updated household consumption data, we focus on the average daily amount that a person at the poverty line would spend on food.

One frame. One person. One day.

Everything else is left up to interpretation.

HKD $44.96 (USD $5.77, EUR£4.01) for food. This is based on a per capita per-day basis of a poverty indicator for Hong Kong (half of the median average household income), and low-income household food expenditure. Hong Kong currently does not have an official poverty line, but this is expected to come into place under the Commission on Poverty which was newly re-established in December 2012. There is presently, however, an official poverty analysis framework uses a multi-dimensional approach to monitor 24 poverty indicators, which includes educational and child social support rates in addition to income indicators. Poverty indicator statistics are mainly collected by the Census and Statistics Department through the General Household Survey and the Social Welfare Department. Poverty and social welfare issues are monitored and championed by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, which is the overall coordinating body for social service NGOs in Hong Kong. Note: Latest available standards and exchange rates were taken as of July 2011, when the photography was undertaken.