French national Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze
has already made his mark in the realm of Hong Kong photography. The jaw-dropping pictures from is 2012 book Vertical Horizon
received plenty of press attention and continues to periodically circulate on social media. As he releases a new series focussing on the creeping organic takeover of our otherwise concrete-dominated city, Localiiz grabbed a quick word with Romain about these two vastly different projects.
In a story that’s not entirely uncommon, Romain’s passion for photography was sparked by his love for the city of Hong Kong. Originally focussed on digital art and drawing, he first picked up a camera in any serious manner after moving to Kowloon and feeling compelled to record its density and vibrancy in the most present way he could.
After a year of taking pictures, he looked back at his work and found himself particularly struck by 10 images that seemed to show the city from a more personal angle - the bottom up. The concept of Vertical Horizon was thus born, and the book, soon to be reprinted in a second edition, only took another six months to complete.
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The project is testimony to the deep immersion Romain felt in Hong Kong’s dense and “wildly diverse built environment”. When asked why our city is so irresistible to photographers, he told Localiiz, “I think what inspires photographers in Hong Kong is its strong visual impact. Wherever you are looking, there are plenty of details to focus on thanks to the messiness of the city.”
Romain’s current project is perhaps an extension of this concept of messiness, although the subject this time is not Hong Kong’s buildings, but what grows upon and among them. Wild Concrete
is a series of photographs that expresses the tenacity and persistence of nature in an urban environment; a look at the trees and plants fighting back against Hong Kong’s concrete jungle.
“Trees are supposed to grow in nature and to find their resources of energy from inside the ground,” said Romain. “However, in a city like Hong Kong where the climate is particularly favorable for vegetation, trees can grow in the most unexpected places, like on the walls of residential buildings. They can take root in nothing other than concrete and decayed paint.”
Romain adds that this paradoxical idea of plants growing wild in the city is redefining the relationship between man and nature. “These pictures question the way we desperately try to control everything in our urban environment and show that the very loss of this control is actually the best way to bring life in our cities.”
To see more of Romain’s work, visit his website or Facebook page. You can purchase the Vertical Horizon book here.