Photoessay: Paris part two: the streets, in B&W

Part two continues with a series from my last visit; focusing on the people of Paris. This is a place where hyperfocal shooting, honing your distance-estimation skills and shooting like a stealth ninja are the order of the day.

This series shot in 2009 with a Leica M8, the 21/1.4 ASPH and Voigtlander 50/1.1.

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. shooting like stealth ninja?…. looks like your cover were blown in second picture,…hehe…

  2. I love these. I really love the second to last shot – the identical bemused expression on the faces of the woman and herdaughter, – and I love the lighting on the face of the subject in the first shot.

    Beautiful pictures…

  3. Good series, and I’m happy to see that you don’t shoot exclusively at f/1.1. All too often, people get distracted by “bokeh” (their false interpretations of the term notwithstanding), and refuse to stop down. This decision can cripple many photographers who won’t ever stop down to achieve appropriate depth of field for a given scene. Looking at great photographs from the masters–even up to the present day–and you’ll find the overwhelming majority of them do not have a razor-thin DoF.

    Great site…I read frequently although I comment less frequently. Keep up the awesome work.

    • Thanks Trevor. There was a time I was chasing speed because of sensor limitations; then I started again both to push the envelope and because of the desire for a cinematic look; now I believe there is a right amount of bokeh; enough to isolate, not too much to abstract out context.

      Most of the older masterpieces didn’t have razor-thin DOF because a) the lenses weren’t that fast; b) they weren’t very good wide open, and c) they were trying to cover focusing errors.

  4. Very nice pictures Ming. I always feel a bit like a creeper taking pictures of people without their knowledge or consent. I wouldn’t want it done to me and so—even though I like some of the pictures I have taken this way—I don’t feel entirely comfortable morally doing it to others. Do you ever have a similar feeling? Also, how do you decide where on a person’s body it is ok to crop. For example, we know they have feet, so you really don’t have to show them. But there are ways of cropping at the legs that look strange and ways that look natural. Any suggestions? Thanks!!

    • Thanks Rob. I think so long as you’re not portraying the subject in an unfair, or potentially defamatory way, it’s okay. You hit the nail on the head with the ‘I wouldn’t be comfortable if others did it to me’ comment: both in terms of the ethics of shooting, as well as what one would be okay with presenting.

      As for cropping, do it where there isn’t any detail – e.g. somewhere along the straight parts of the legs would be fine, but probably not at the base of a skirt or a hem, for instance. This ensures you don’t create an unwanted visual distraction by affecting the balance of the frame.

  5. I had to laught at picture 2. It is funny how people react on streetphotography.

  6. Christof Rostert says:

    Brilliant work, Ming!
    After all the classic photography that took place in the City of Lights, I’m impressed how you find your very own perspective and come up with such excellent takes.

  7. As a Parisian, I feel ashamed for the rude gesture of the newspaper seller (pic #2). In Doisneau’s and Cartier-Bresson’s country, this is too bad.

    • No need to apologize. I’m sure there’s plenty of rudeness that goes on in everybody’s country. All we can Sonia ensure that we are not perpetrators ourselves. You never know when your hand gestures might be captured by a photographer and posted on a moderately high traffic blog for all to see…

  8. Very good indeed, good sense of humour and involvement & remotedness taken together

  9. Those are really beautiful. Btw, do you have problem with excessive noise in the OM-D vs. the Leica? I don’t have a Leica M9, but the OM-D seems really noisy even compared to my old Nikon D300.

  10. LOL @ the second picture

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