Photoessay: Idea of man in Prague

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I see this series as a somewhat looser development of the original Idea of Man; relaxed to fit the people and where possible, looking for natives rather than visitors – insofar as a rolling cast of visitors have now become the natives. Unlike the original series, you’ll notice there are identifiable individuals in some of these images; I felt that was necessary to be able to differentiate between local and tourist – which is nearly impossible to do on the basis of silhouette or profile or shadow alone. Personally, what really made this set work was the very hard shadows; not only does it lend an additional degree and visual interest to certain compositions and scenes, but metaphorically it also introduces ambiguity and uncertainty – which certainly tied in to my feelings about Prague during this recent trip, and this despite many of these images being shot outside the main area of attraction. More than ever, I felt like the city was in danger of losing its identity and becoming a giant theme park. Let us hope future visits prove this wrong. MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C and H6D-50C, various lenses and post 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. John Barry says:

    Sorry, just to amend the comment further up thread, Dresden was fire bombed and almost totally destroyed in WWII. It has however been very sympathetically re-built. Back on topic this is a very accomplished set, and we are looking forward to visiting Prague later in the year

  2. mike gannon says:

    the photo of the man sitting under the brown multiple arches is the best photograph I have seen in a while

  3. Larry Kincaid says:

    Great subject and examples. I’ve finally realized that my favorite kind of photography involves very interesting, intriguing scenes with just the right number of people (one or a few) captured spontaneously in a way that makes the “organic” or overall structure resonate. A bit of mystery (story) or nostalgia doesn’t hurt either, and of course, light and shadows as you’ve shown us here.

    You’ve touched on the biggest problem with this when traveling abroad (but my abroad would be your Malaysia, so at home as well) is the interference of tourists. As thousands unloaded on us in Venice from what looked like a 30 story cruise ship, there was no direction in which obvious tourists could not be seen. They all leave at once, fortunately, but as you know half of the residents of Venice have moved out permanently and commute to work or never return. I noticed that tourists from nearby countries could often substitute for local residents at times. Walt Disney Inc. should have simply bought Venice years ago as a ready-made theme park rather than trying to duplicate parts of it elsewhere. I visited Dresden several years ago, but because it also survived WWII intact, it has become a destination as well.

    During the chaos in Venice, I did manage to capture a nice photograph of a young local couple in wedding dress kissing in front of the bridge of sighs without any tourists behind them. But later I ran into another, smaller issue: beautiful Venetian kids chasing each other with water balloons only to realize later that they were all wearing Nike shoes! Years later I realized that they probably would have taken their shoes off for me if I had offered them enough money. Photographically speaking, is that ethical or not. Where is Cartier-Bresson when you need him most?

    • I don’t know – I’m personally conflicted because we are as much as part of the problem as the other tourists; whether we are personally and directly culpable or whether we motivate people to want to go …

  4. There is a school of thought that says street photography needs moderately wide angle lenses, uses Leica-like rangefinder bodies, and images are captured in-close to the subject. Your wonderful street photography continues to prove otherwise: you use short to medium telephotos, relatively large MF bodies and shoot back from the subject. Couple that with warm, graphic light and you have a collection of winning images. My money is on your approach, Ming. Well done!

    • Thanks, but I tend to use mostly anything from 35-100mm or thereabouts on MF – which is 28-70. I do like a bit more compression at 85-120-equivalent though…

  5. Said AZIZI says:

    The wall in the 9th picture look almost like a painting. Some pictures you took in Porto i think are rendered in a similar way.

    It kind of reminds me of Hayley Eichenbaum (@inter_disciplinary in Instagram). Do you do it on purpose ? Or is it a by-product (a good one) of your post processing workflow ?

  6. Alex Carnes says:

    Idea of PERSON…! You’ll be in a bother with our right-on friends! 😉

  7. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Just enough humans, without overdoing it 🙂

    I live in a land of harsh light and dark shadows – one learns to create passable photos under any conditions, with practice and a good eye. Some of these shots suggest similar harsh contrasts, which kind of surprised me. I am more accustomed to softer lighting, so far from the equator – especially earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. Maybe late afternoon in summer is much the same, all over.

    • Haha, perhaps there is an aesthetically ideal human:context ratio for this kinds of images…

      Harsh light if there are no clouds – I like the graphic nature, personally.

  8. Human are always illustrate life.
    Bravo !!!

  9. great set. Some wonderful angles you have there.

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