Getty Images has partnered with D&AD for their Next Photographer Award, which helps nurture and celebrate the most talented up-and-coming photographers from around the world.
This year’s winner, Tam Hoi Ying, proves just how promising the next generation of photographers is. She creates a powerful and moving statement through her use of visual language, and one that is deeply personal.
Growing up in Hong Kong, Tam experienced the strange dichotomy of living with freedom, while being acutely aware of the human rights injustices occurring just across the river in mainland China.
“Being from Hong Kong, I always felt lucky when I was growing up for being able to enjoy democracy and freedom, which is something exceptional among Chinese society,” she said. “We learned from news and books that just across the river, there is a whole other world; even though the people looked so much like me and shared the same language as me, they weren’t able to live a life like mine.
“They would be arrested for sharing their own opinions toward the government and could be killed for protecting their own human rights. Every right that was so basic for me could be fatal for them and these differences made me wonder, ‘What is so special about me that I deserve this better life than others?’ The answer is that there is nothing about me that deserves a better life, I was just lucky enough to be born in this tiny but safe city.”
In her compelling winning photo series “Being Disappeared,” she brings to light these injustices and challenges the idea of laws that are supposedly meant to protect people, yet withhold their freedom.
“There are always reasons for countries to limit the rights of their people, for example — protecting their safety, ensuring social security, etc. – but who are they really protecting? We are all entitled to human rights, yet many people agree to give them up in exchange for the delusion of security,” Tam said. “I hope by questioning the meaning of communication, the format of expression and the reason for national security law people can start paying more attention to the human rights situation in China and all over the world.”
Through her photography, Tam has found an outlet in which she can both express her gratitude for being born into freedom, and at the same time, help others who were not as fortunate as her.
“This has become the reason for my photography, my purpose. I’m lucky enough to be from Hong Kong, which allows me to enjoy my luxurious freedoms and execute my rights – and I see no reason for not expressing this in my photography,” she said. “With this small contribution, I hope to help achieve a better world where we can all be free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Learn more about Tam Hoi Ying and see her winning series, “Being Disappeared” at D&AD.com