21 July 2018
Discovery of some old photos prompted an amateur photographer in Hong Kong to embark on a big research mission. Photo: Lee Wing-kwong
Discovery of some old photos prompted an amateur photographer in Hong Kong to embark on a big research mission. Photo: Lee Wing-kwong

Old film rolls set HK photographer on global quest

Pass through an antiques bazaar or a flea market, and you’re likely to come across, among other things on display, faded old photographs from an earlier period. 

Most of us find the old pictures fascinating, as they set us thinking about an era gone by.

We take a close a look, wondering about the people in the photos and what stories lie behind them. And then we move on.

It’s very rare that someone actually studies the pictures in great detail and wants to do original research on the people captured in the frames.

But take a look at what a Hong Kong photo enthusiast has been doing.

Amateur photographer Lee Wing-kwong set out on a major quest after becoming fascinated with a bunch of old photographs, according to his Facebook posts. 

The story began several months ago, when Lee got his hands on eight boxes of black-and-white Plus-X 125 Kodak film rolls after bidding for them on auction site eBay.

The information on the cartons indicated that the rolls were from the years 1974 to 1989, but that did not prevent Lee from making prints from them.

What he found was pictures of some westerners, adults and children, with few clues about who they might be.

It is doubtful if the adults in the images, which were taken at least 30-40 years ago, would still be alive, but the children must surely be around somewhere, Lee surmised.

He sought information from the person who sold him the rolls on eBay. 

The seller told Lee he himself had acquired the rolls of film in an online auction and that they came from an old mansion in Minnesota in the United States.

The seller had no idea who the original owner was.

Lee then posted the photos on his Facebook page, seeking information from people around the world as to the identity of the people in the photographs and their backgrounds.

He even said that he would like to meet the people from the photographs if anyone was identified.

Well, as of now, Lee is still on his quest and hoping for a breakthrough.

We can only applaud his determination and perseverance as he seeks to quench his thirst for a slice of culture and history.

[Go to Lee Wing-kwong's Facebook account]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Lee Wing-kwong used an old roll of film he found to take a picture of a ship (right), but another image appeared as well (left). Photo: Lee Wing-kwong

Schoolchildren are in one of the pictures that were on the old film. Photo: Lee Wing-kwong

A group picture taken outdoors was on one of the old rolls of film. Photo: Lee Wing-kwong

The film rolls were from the years 1974 to 1989. Photo: Lee Wing-kwong

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe