Photoessay: Facade

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I tend to think of these structures and images as representing the blunt end of modern architecture – they’re the somewhat generic barriers thrown up to segregate a space from the outside world in a somewhat arbitrary and identity-less manner. The spaces promise all sorts of things but in reality must be reusable and take on the inscrutable identity of their many corporate inhabitants. The whole concept of ‘identity’ is somewhat nebulous in any case: how do you translate the personality of a collective of individuals who are mostly there solely because the job pays, not because they have any great vision for the company? Answer: you don’t. And whilst architects continue to play with abstract geometries, geometric forms and more glass, every building seems to get just that bit more anonymous. I can’t think of any better way to show this than the effective blending of one building into the next…MT

This series was shot with a mix of cameras (mostly a Hasselblad H5) and processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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


  1. love your short writeup and thought process consolidating the whole theme of images! well said! 🙂 and wonderful photos demonstrating the theme! 🙂

  2. Always love your architectural sets 🙂 H51-B0011837 and H51-B0011307 are my faves from this set

  3. These remind me of Michael Wolf’s , Architecture of Density” .

  4. Beautiful photo report!

  5. Bill Walter says:

    What a great architectural set. I enjoyed every photo, but favorites are 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 & 9. Compression is a very provocative and beautiful thing!

  6. All are nice, but my favorite are the open window reflections that look like small huts. The illusion of individuality lives there.

    • Definitely an illusion 😉

      • Michiel953 says:

        Illusion? Maybe meant in jest, but definitely nonsense Ming.

        Windows, as many as there might be, nicely and comfortably ordered in rows and columns, might all look the same from the outside, but behind every window there might or even will be a or more human being(s), all as different from one another as one might imagine, with everything imagineable going on or not going on.

        Thinking of windows, buildings etc: Rear Window (nice Exakta) and Mission Impossible 4 (Burj Khalifa) spring to mind…

        It’s the old “looking out looking in” thing; nothing ever changes.

  7. Ryan Kimball says:

    Very interesting set here. Gives me a strong feeling of congestion. Amazing how much we can cram into such small spaces. I also thought the image with the foliage at the bottom was well placed as a way to sort of break up the series without straying from the overall concept. Thanks for sharing these.

  8. Nice compositions and excellent perspective control. Ming, re the perspective issues, do you intentionally leave “room” around the image when you compose to allow you to deal with perspective issues in LR?

    • If I know I’m going to straighten in post, yes, I’ll leave room – usually the limit of my composition at the base of the structure dictates the required angle of view. Otherwise, I’ll use some shift.

  9. Beautiful!

  10. Super, once again. I love the density, the compression of the first two and the final shots.

  11. Beautiful! Not many people can create such images out of what are usually boring buildings. Which cities are these if you don’t mind me asking?

  12. Beauty and grace.

  13. Hi Ming
    A lot of compressed urban views tend to be ‘preaching’ some forms of distopian world view, thanks for this set that leaves the viewer scope (or freedom) to format there own opinion, something that seems to be getting scarse these days. Not quite the theme of this essay I know, but thanks anyway.

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