Photoessay: Minimalist Lisboan architecture

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Clean and colourful – this is modern Lisboan architecture in a nutshell, I think. There’s an element of brutalism to it; perhaps that’s the result of minimalism when scaled up. Still, on a sunny day the bright/ light colours go a long way to softening things, and the simple forms are relatively unthreatening. A few traditional references remained, too – the new cobblestones, the tiled walls; I suspect the more ornate ironwork and mouldings were simply too expensive to replicate. Can’t help but wonder whether the whole mood changes in winter, though – there were already hints of it at the Calatrava-designed Oriente station, which has perhaps not fared as well as expected – elegant from a distance, but overly massive at anything other than platform level, and with rusting pillars and a leaky roof above. MT

This series was shot mostly with a Hasselblad H5D-50c, with some from the Leica Q 116. Postprocessing with Photoshop Workflow II. For a more in-depth architectural photography experience, there’s also the Singapore Architectural Photography Masterclass from 1-7 July.

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The Singapore Architectural Masterclass from 1-7 July 2016 is now open for booking. Click here for more details and to book.


Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


More info on Hasselblad cameras and lenses can be found here.


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


  1. Ming + Brutalism. A match made in heaven.

  2. Nice set! I think you summarized Oriente area pretty well. I also share your views regarding Calatrava’s Oriente Station, although I don’t feel overwhelmed by the concrete stand. The platform on the other hand is complete disaster from a user point of view. If it rains you get wet, if it’s windy is chilly, in the summer you just can’t stand there. You seem to have liked Siza’s Pavilion, judging from the number of pictures of his building on this set. I would have loved to be able to attend to this Masterclass, having your perspective on a place I know is nice consolation. Have you by any chance visited Porto? Will we see those pictures on a post?

    • Thanks. Yes, I did like the Pavilion – a very interesting structure mostly devoid of detail, yet it was still being used by quite a number of people – each in their own way; everybody found what they wanted there.

      Yes, I also visited Porto. Completely different (and not necessarily better) feeling. Photos from there to come in due course after curation.

  3. Do you ever do perspective correction in post-processing, or do you always do it with your lens and/or adapter? I notice that one of your trademarks is very precise perspective control.

    • Thanks – a bit of both, and sometimes I just hold the camera level and compose for a square (or whatever’s left over after lopping off excess foreground).

  4. I paid my first ever visit to Lisbon last November and loved it. You see a quite different Lisbon in your photographs than I did, more of the modern than the old. But I’m a sucker for anything crumbling or dilapidated. To be sure, it offers a lot, something for everyone. It seems to have hit its stride with visitors so to anyone thinking of a visit there I’d suggest going sooner rather than later as the prices may start to catch up with its growing popularity.

  5. These are some of my favorite architectural photos from you recently – they are so elegant in their shape, color, and form. Really a treat for the eyes.

    Thank you for this!

  6. Very impressive set of images – many thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. wonderful shapes and textures!

  8. Chas James says:

    Sorry but I have some bad news for you !. 🙂 It’s not Hassy with some Leica … it’s Leica with some Hassy. Unless I am mistaken; 8 of the 13 photos shown are from the Leica !. Approx. 62%. Telling; I think. … oh, I don’t have a horse in this race. I do not own either camera (or make).

  9. Jan Martin says:

    Reminds me of the Getty architecture.. I could spend days in that museum, just on the outside, lol!

  10. You’re work always continues to impress and inspire me! I was curious if you find yourself shooting less handheld with the Hassy? Do you get a lot more people coming up to you asking what kind of camera you have? It’s very rare that for me to see someone shooting a MF camera so I’m curious how your experience has been in that regards.

  11. Very nice!


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