This is a photo I took in 2012, when I was still living in Hong Kong. I was filming a video about Hasselblad, and shooting street photos with it.
I took this photo on a dimly-lit, narrow street in Wan Chai, sandwiched by market stalls and food vendors. I saw a little girl needing help to pierce a hole in a carton of Chrysanthemum tea to sink her straw into, and I was kinda curious to see how the butcher would help out. I was amazed to see him whip out his knife – which was still coated with bits of raw meat – and proceed to pierce the tiny straw hole with it.
I have to admit, I didn’t take the photo because I was thinking of kindness, it was more about me reacting to the preposterousness of what I was seeing. Is the butcher being kind by using a knife covered with raw meat on it to open a carton for a kid to drink out of? We all might have our own interpretations but it is down to the perceptions of the recipient that define what kindness really is.
With photography, there’s always the danger of making it a relationship between yourself and the camera. A subject will feel unease if they see a photographer that hides behind a camera. Act normal, be human about it, show a friendly face if needed and understand and empathise.