Looking above Hong Kong from Kowloon Peak Elizabeth Cara 
Looking East from Kowloon Peak by Elizabeth Cara 

Above Hong Kong on the Kowloon Peak ridge by Elizabeth Cara 

Today became a day of unexpected happenstances that resulted in me on top of Kowloon’s highest mountain.

To give context of my fulfillment, I should explain some brief moments from days prior.  Two days ago, I set out on a journey to stumble upon a view that called for it to be photographed with my 4x5 large format camera.  I carried pounds of gear on my back and a substantial tripod up and down Hong Kong’s hilly, meandering streets, up dozens of stair wells, in hot hot heat, high humidity with blood and sweat and, even at times, tears.  Most places deny photographers entry when they notice what camera you are choosing to shoot with.   They cannot accept what they don’t understand about my craft.  I am a nuisance to them.  I spent hours searching for high ground or a look out above the city time and time again to be denied or disappointed.  I created the assignment for myself.  And I felt like I was failing.  Photography is not an easy medium despite common preconceived notions.  Photography is a particular craft that calls for a particular artist.  Everything I do as a photographer takes every fiber of my brain and muscle.  I climb mountains for it.

Come today, I felt exhausted (physically and emotionally) and decided to procrastinate on my current assignment and take on an easier mountain.  “I’ll shoot a cemetery, I’ll shoot something local, I’ll change my assignment (because that’s easier). “  And then it hit me: nothing about this time abroad to create work is easy.  Slap myself out of it immediately. “Liz Cara doesn’t half-ass anything.” I then decided the largest mountain to tackle with this assignment was to tackle the largest mountain in Kowloon.  I climbed up to the peak.

A fellow student I’ve befriended since being overseas accompanied me on my impulsive journey.  If it weren’t for him I would have sunken back into my old ways of venturing off into unknown and sometimes dangerous territory alone.  Throughout the trip he remained the positive fuel I needed.  Guilt would rush over me at the thought that I brought this individual with me and I was thinking about turning back once the footpath became rough.  I knew it was ridiculous.  The heat can get to your head like that. If it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have made it with a pleasant head on my shoulders.

Through the rocky overgrown and bug-infested hike up and along the topmost ridge, we got to the point we needed to be to get the shot.  I could see absolutely everything.  All of Kowloon, much of Hong Kong Island, Stonecutters Bridge, and all of the New Territories behind me.  Andrew and I sat on a large boulder that was lodged into the side of the ridge and relaxed as we watched the sun set before us.  The smog levels were incredibly high but because of the atmosphere below us it truly put into perspective where in the world we were at that specific time and place. 

Once the astonishment was felt and our minds/hearts came back down to earth, we knew we needed to head back to the main road soon because of the loss of light.  But one thing slipped our minds: how we were getting back down to sea level.  Sweaty, fatigued and hungry, we stood out as two on-foot nomads with camera gear.  After failed calls I decided to ask the locals that were sharing the view mutually of my options.  Perhaps they sensed our desperation because they offered to give us a ride down the mountain AND to the subway station we needed to get to.  We offered cash and many thanks but they refused to take our offer.  From the kindness of their hearts they helped us with no expectation of getting anything in return.  That’s a virtue.  Bless them. 

Days like today amaze me that I am alive and well doing what I love to do most.  If I could give advice to any photographers, or other artists for that matter, it would be to persevere when the weather is terrible, when your legs are shaking, when your rational, safe self feels like calling it quits when it gets tough, when the sun is beating down on your head and the bugs are chewing you, when others tell you no, when you tell yourself no, when all other options are “easy”, and when giving up is, what you think, the only way out. If it’s not a journey to be had with some blood and sweat, it isn’t worth it.  Happy creating. 

Tai Koo

Colored Apartments in East Kowloon, Hong Kong

Lamma Island, Hong Kong
Lamma Island, Hong Kong
Sham Shui Po

I need to accept that I will never have all the time in the world at my convenience to create all the work I want to about this amazing city. Remembering the mortality to my time here and my own limits.
You can’t do it all, Liz, so let it go.

Above Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong by Elizabeth Cara

Above Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong by Elizabeth Cara

Welcoming the week with a powerful Typhoon.

Central Hong Kong - From today

I wish I could put to words how it feels to be abroad in a place like this.  Speechless awe.  I am living in a vivid dream.  I am Blessed to be here.

Opaque  by  andbamnan