Keith Macgregor, born in Bangalore at the end of the war, was not the first family member to call Asia home. The history of the Macgregors reads like a series of James Clavell novels. His great grandfather, John Macgregor, was one of the first Scottish pioneers to venture out to Shanghai in 1858 when he arrived as a merchant seaman to set up what would become a successful wine and spirits trading business called Caldbeck Macgregor Limited. By the time Keith was born, Caldbeck Magregor had expanded to offices all over China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, London and later even Kenya. In Hong Kong the company’s business was run by ‘Uncle Jack’, Keith’s grandfather and then after he retired, by his father Robin Macgregor.
As was customary, Keith was sent to boarding school in the UK and then attended Oxford University. He originally longed to break free of his Asian heritage and as such moved to New York to find his own path. Yet fate had different plans for him and when his father passed away suddenly he returned to Hong Kong in 1969 to handle the family’s affairs and support his grieving Mother. The family business had been sold in 1967 so there was no future there and the prospects of joining one of the small number of British ‘Hongs’ or banks did not attract him in the slightest. As he had learnt the skill of printing photographs while working in New York he decided to try his luck at photography, starting by taking portraits of children and families whilst at the same time photographing Hong Kong and around Asia for personal enjoyment. His photographs of Hong Kong were first made public in the form of a solo exhibition at the Excelsior Hotel in 1974 which resulted in the publishing of his Hong Kong calendars a year later. The great success of these led his friends to persuade him to improve the quality of Hong Kong’s rather poor postcard selection at that time. Thus Keith created his own collection of iconic black bordered postcards which were sent out all over the world in millions and shaped how people abroad viewed Hong Kong during that period. Keith had arrived back in Hong Kong with the simple goal to help his mother, yet in a few years he had established himself as a photographer, publisher, business owner, husband and father.
Those indeed were the days, the Hong Kong in the 70’s and 80’s.
Often Keith was found hanging out of helicopters flying over Victoria Harbour and the Lamma Channel shooting commercial vessels with his Hasselblads for big shipping clients like Maersk and Sealand. During those aerial sessions he was able to shoot wonderful images of China’s last sailing junks that looked like beautiful butterflies plying their way from Amoy to Canton in the South China Sea.
Apart from the postcards he also published many books that were very sought after. “An Eye on Hong Kong”, first published in 1997, sold out 6 full editions. His 2nd book: “Neon City, Hong Kong, at Night ” also sold out and has since became a collector’s item.
Keith explains, "I’m very happy to stage my first solo exhibition in Hong Kong together with Blue Lotus Gallery. It brings back many good memories to me and I hope it does the same for our visitors."