The late 1920s to the early 1930s was the golden era for huashi zazhi (magazines of ‘flowery/ amorous matters’; or tabloids about prostitution) in Hong Kong. But while most of these publications were restrained when it came to publishing photographs of huanu (‘flower girls’), Huaying (‘images of flowers’) was the exception, with photographs of prostitutes across almost all its pages. These prostitutes were based in two places: Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. Shihua was the name given to pictures of prostitutes from brothels in Hong Kong Island’s Shek Tong Tsui district, such as Changle, Yixiang, Yongyue, Cuiyue, Tianyi, Yihong and Saihua; while mahua were portraits of prostitutes from brothels in Yau Ma Tei, such as Jinlian Yueyuan, Yingwan, Shuangfeng, Tianhua, Saixiang Yueyuan and Yafeng. Each photograph was accompanied by a short introductory passage, mostly complimentary, though often telling similar stories about how these women had become prostitutes as a result of their poor family background.
Hua Ying also published literary works, including fiction written in either classical or vernacular Chinese, essays, poems, Cantonese songs and photographs of landscapes, making it a comprehensive example of the huashi magazines of the pre-second world war period.