Sunday, September 22nd Hong Kong was anxiously awaiting the approach of typhoon Usagi, described as one of the regions most powerful storms in three decades. As the usually crowded streets of the city emptied out in preparation, Dutch photographer Desiré van den Berg decided to get out her camera gear and capture this unusual image of Hong Kong.
Desiré arrived in Hong Kong a month ago with the aim of improving her knowledge of the Chinese language at the University, as she studies general linguistics and wants to do her bachelors thesis on a linguistic subject in Mandarin. Next to her study she rolled into a photography career and, as it turned out, is really good at that. With a focus on nightlife, her photography took off and resulted in attending and capturing a whooping 21 festivals this summer. Balancing her study and newfound career turned out to be quite difficult, and last month Desire left for Hong Kong.
Desiré: Last month I left for Hong Kong in a nearly burned out state. I forced myself not to touch the camera for a while and instead get used to this new environment first. I wanted to be totally acclimatized before shooting my first, well thought out pictures. I love documentary photography and my move to Hong Kong is one of my first steps towards this. I would like to have more meaning in my pictures. The parties became a bit too superficial and on top of that, the addicting lifestyle started giving me shivers.
"When I heard about Usagi, I immediately knew: This was going to be my first series of images in Hong Kong."
The locals weren’t impressed by Usagi at all. They are used to such natural phenomena and know exactly what to do with the different storm warnings given by the news. The majority obediently stay inside when asked to, but doesn’t really seem to worry too much.
"A small group of locals sought out the adventure by, just like myself, moving towards the harbor and experience the adrenaline rush by the continuously growing waves."
Although it was fun and games at first and people were instagramming the scenario, the situation became more grim when the water rose out of the manholes with high pressure and the immensely powerful wind sent parts of telephone boots flying through the air, damaging a car with passengers.
"The hurricane snatched off branches of palm trees which could have easily killed if they had hit someone."
The hurricane snatched off branches of palm trees which could have easily killed if they had hit someone. That was the moment that the situation really became dangerous, but that was already after midnight and almost everyone was safe at home.