Photoessay: Observations of Londoners in summer

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The watcher.

For what feels like no more than a couple of days a year, the entire mood of London changes as the sun comes out and puts (most of) the population in a good mood – it’s as though the vitamin D has a tangible effect on the constitution. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does; there’s no question I feel better after a bit of sun, and not just because I’ve got interesting light to shoot with. There are still a decent number of overcast days, but at least they’re offset by intense sunshine and great shadows.

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Piccadilly Circus

What I find interesting is that even though a decent number of people seem to be happily enjoying the sun, I noticed a lot of melancholic faces – perhaps either ruing the fact that lunchbreaks are never long enough, or other things. I certainly notice the disposition of people I spoke to before or after photographing to be very different: most were friendly, but there are a few who retained the usual British reserve or became openly hostile. But hey, that’s a hazard of documenting life…I don’t consider this kind of photograpy the typical ‘street’ genre so much as pulling an interesting snippet or two out of daily life. MT

This series was shot with a Pentax 645Z, 25, 55 and 90mm lenses.

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Shadow I

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Shadow II

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A flower in her hair

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Lunchtime nap

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Not local I

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Not local II

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The shadow of our other self

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Pillar and shadow


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


  1. Jaime Acosta says:

    I love this set. I lived in London for a very short while as a child (that’s where I began to learn English) and have visited once since. Now that I am into photography, it’s on the top of my list of cities to (re)visit and photograph.

    ‘Lunchtime nap’ is fantastic! Did you take ‘Pillar and shadow’ in the British Museum? It made for the best school trips back in the day!

  2. Hello Ming, Another great set of images. Whilst not a native Londoner I do spend a lot of time in the city and what you have to realise is that during those hot days that descend on London the people that don’t actually live there (i.e. most of them) have to brave the horrors of the overcrowded ‘tube’ morning and night. Enough to give anyone a melancholy look I suspect!

  3. Putmebackonbike says:

    Wow! All the presented photos are great – but I agree, The Watcher is just amazing.

  4. You remind me why I love London so much. A wonderful set of photographs.

  5. Reblogged this on Eileen Lyn Wah.

  6. greger pung says:

    I would love to see “Not local II” as an ultra print.

  7. ‘Not local II’ What a charmer…..!

  8. Ming,
    A great set. The Watcher is in a world apart.

  9. “Pillar and Shadow” is excellent. Great shot.

  10. The Watcher and Lunchtime Nap are works of Contemporary Fine Art and deserving of any museum.

  11. The composition of your photo, The watcher, creates an impression of a painting. Beautiful!

  12. These images are specially dear to me. Not only because they are a window into London’s streets life when it’s obviously best and not only because the images are stunning photographic handcraft with beautiful rendering of color. While I was there too those days, opposite to you Ming, I was fumbling with your assignments, well yes the carpet were sweeped away under my feet to an extend I hardly saw London really. Being ever so focused looking for quality light and interesting objects etc., my camera also presented a new learning curve on how to use it for an idea and deliberate execution. Man oh my .. what a couple of days of challenges.

    Despite my absorbtion in the photografic tasks I was too met with smiling faces and while I am not at all acustomed to include people into my phototography, it is almost unavoidable due to the crowds. I am confident it wasn’t a hostile act when I was run down by a crowd while trying to frame an object on Trafalgar Square. I got a puff so my camera hit my face and got a bleeding from my nose from the incidence. My fave 50mm lens that I had stowed in one of my pockets flew out and hit the pavement! Crash… but miraculously survived without any internal damage. An unwished stigmatisation of course, but reminds me about the dangers that lies in doing street photography. Have four eyes and be aware about what happens around you.

    Ming ..Thank you for showing London and refreshing the wonderful memories again.

    • Gerner, I’m pretty sure if you went back again today you’d have your own unique take on London – think of it as a training ground 🙂

      But ouch – getting injured usually isn’t part of the game; one just needs to be a little careful, a little stealthy, and work with very high situational awareness at all times…

  13. A cracking set of shots Ming.

  14. Wonderful Series Ming! I remember an image from your Ricoh 3 taken near the spot of the Piccadilly Circus image.

  15. Reblogged this on Still I Learn and commented:

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