Photoessay: separation in Singapore

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Big city, bright lights, teeming crowds…yet the quest for individuality is perhaps stronger than ever. Yet we’re social creatures, so we want to fit in. But where? How? Here more than ever, people felt transient, subservient, temporary. Native is not native and you’re on the way somewhere else. The stage stays; the actors change. Here more than ever, I’ve always felt like I was just passing through – even the times where I was based here for months. MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50c and processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

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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. A good concept well executed. I wonder if part of what you were feeling in Singapore was the separation of the people from their government. (Not likely to happen here in the U.S…..right?)

  2. I love these themed images. Along with (as others have said) the spectacular first image I’m really fond of number seven, with its crowds/industrial architecture vs. individual/traditional architecture. If you’d allow the music metaphor, it’s a complex rhythmic counterpoint to the same melodic line. Anyhow, maybe that’s a stretch, but the series is wonderful.

  3. Carlos Polk says:

    Excellent! You captured the thought, the feeling of separation perfectly. Clearly the choice had to be black and white. Very powerful set with strong emotional content.

  4. Very strong set, Ming. No. 1 is a ‘five’, I think, on your scale of judging – all the elements combining to create something with an immediate allure – both visual and emotional – and which is also very satisfying to keep looking at it.

    Something I was wondering about: taking what you said about curation a step further, might it be a viable strategy (at least for an amateur) to present _only_ the fives? Even if it means just a few shots a year. Or is this the function of the portfolio?

    • Thanks! Felt that way to me too at the time of capture – there’s such a strange juxtaposition to the elements that goes beyond just a normal reflection.

      “Something I was wondering about: taking what you said about curation a step further, might it be a viable strategy (at least for an amateur) to present _only_ the fives?”
      Yes – but present only and shoot only are two different things. I think you need to shoot all of the images, but if you are disciplined enough to present only the fives, then you’ll eventually raise the game because this whole process requires you to be very conscious of what makes a five in the first place – hopefully to the extent that there’s some pre-shot curation discipline, too.

  5. simple but captivating

  6. Eric Borgström says:

    Engaging photos at a great technical level. Thanks for sharing. Do you have your H5D Hassy on a tripod? Even whiteout one difficult to be an unobtrusive street photographer.

    • Thanks – a mix of with and without, depending on what I’m photographing. Most of the time no tripod not for reasons of stealth, but speed and practicality.

  7. richard majchrzak says:

    yes,I can feel being estranged and alien in these surroundings …..stranger in a strange world..

  8. Many nice photos here–but the first one in superb. Reminds me why I got interested in you in the first place.

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