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Mel Schockner
Photographer of 3-D Fine Art & Craft

Reporter-Herald, northern colorado GO
Sept. 11 - 17, 2009

Mel Schockner veers off the beaten path in Hong Kong
Photo collection reveals everyday life circa 1966

Few visual art forms offer the intimacy of a well-shot photograph.

When taken right, a photo does far more than relay a scene. It teaches its viewer, on an innate level, something about the subject.

On display now through Nov. 22 at the Loveland Museum/ Gallery is a series of pictures by local photographer Mel Schockner that brings viewers face to face with everyday life in Hong Kong circa 1966.

“Faces of Hong Kong, 1966” is an unfeigned and graceful accounting of the people and places that usually go unnoticed when set against the backdrop of such a renowned city. Through a relatively small collection of photos, Schockner has managed to connect his viewers with a time, a place and a commonality in all of us: people doing what they do - living, one moment at a time.

Four decades ago, as a young man learning his trade as a naval photographer, Schockner felt compelled to point his lens beyond the slated shots and exotic landscapes of his job.

“I wanted to document what people looked like and what they did,” says Schockner. And he wanted to do it away from the postcard locales and glitzy backdrops so often associated with hong Kong.

Armed with a week’s leave and a Mamiya camera, Schockner began a documentarian’s journey through harbors, alleyways and street sides that most Westerners probably never have bothered to consider.”I went off the beaten path,” he recalls, “didn’t go where the tourists hang out.”

Go Magazine Cover

What he found was a layering of life to which he was intuitively drawn. Schockner shot rolls of film that week, captured some remarkable moments, then stuffed the results in a shoebox for years. At the prodding of museum staff, he resurrected the photos for this exhibit.

Though noted for his work as a sculpture and art photographer, Schockner admits to a real love of taking pictures of people, especially those of lower means.

“I’ve always been attracted to people who don’t have anything,” he says, “and there was a certain intensity to these people. You could see it in the way they worked, even in the way they sat.”

The beauty of Schockner’s work lies in its quiet elegance. These are more than just pictures of faces and people. They are, in fact, a subtle retelling of culture.

A world away and decades removed from when and where they were shot, Schockner’s photographs still convey the daily toil and dignity of life among the lower ranks of Hong Kong. Yet they do so without announcing it. In the world of photography, that is often the most difficult trick to perform, a trick which Schockner has pulled off with clarity and ease.

All artwork © 1985 - 2011 Mel Schockner