On Assignment photoessay: Man Machine Monochromes

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I thought I’d present this set a little differently, in the vein of variations on a theme: one with, one without man, in similar situations. They might or might not have been the same subject, they but I think each pair of images is somewhat interchangeable depending on the end use intent – sometimes, you want the people, sometimes, you don’t. Each image is of course optimised for the subjects that did eventually get included – compositionally and presentation-wise. You cannot simply add or remove one element and expect the rest of the composition to remain balanced. Construction is a messy but never ending and necessary business so long as the needs of the people keep changing; whilst some images may look familiar, they’re part of a very long term and ongoing project for the same client. One of the challenges during assignments like this is to keep a level of consistency of visual style, but at the same time with little riffs and variations on it to stop the material from becoming repetitive or boring – more so when you’re dealing with the same subject that’s changing at at relatively slow pace because of the scale of the project. Not easy, but very rewarding…MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50c and H6D-50c and processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow. With thanks to Chun Wo Construction Holdings Limited, Hong Kong.

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


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


  1. Guy Incognito says:

    Nice set Ming,

    You seem to be carving a niche for yourself in the construction photography market. Keep it up! Out of curiosity how big is it?

    It seems to be an overlooked genre (if you can call it a genre?). Yet surely one of the most iconic images of the American Great Depression is the one of the RCA Building construction workers having lunch on their high-rise girder.

    I suppose the lack of coverage is due to restricted access on private property (and the obvious hazards).

    • Well, the individual jobs can be huge…which is probably the opposite of the demand for photography for it 🙂

      Health and safety does restrict where I can go very tightly – often I can see a great shot but just can’t ‘get in’ because it would violate too many regulations.

  2. John Giolas says:

    Really beautiful B&Ws, Ming. Graphically and photographically.

    I’ve been watching patiently for your H6D review, and can’t help but notice your ongoing photos produced with the H6D, not least this latest crop of stunning work. Thoughts on the timeframe for a review of either the new H or the X1d?

    • Thanks. Review: well, once I have final hardware – Hasselblad has (wisely) chosen to fill commercial orders first, I’m using early preproduction prototypes still…

  3. That lead-off image heading the entire post — dynamite!

  4. Brett Patching says:

    I love this set Ming, both because of the great compositions (I would imagine these construction projects are good subjects for wimmelbilder) and because I still like standing at worksite fences like a kid watching people building very big things with cranes etc. 🙂

    • Thanks – there’s always something amazing to me about how we make these enormous things from seemingly relatively insignificant parts – and then take them for granted 😛

  5. An assignment made for medium format monochrome.
    Bob in Chicago

  6. The first image — fantastic! I envy you being able to walk around a construction site with a camera.

  7. I wonder if having a male or female has more impact on a picture than whether there is a person in the frame or not….

  8. richard majchrzak says:

    Love your “working” pictures , Mr Ming. Exhausts me just looking at them ( just joking ), wish you would do your bylines again. Found them inspiring and explanatory …oh well. …

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