Project-photoessay: Gravitation is relative

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Following on from the previous article on the process of turning an idea into an image – I thought it’d make sense to present another completed ‘idea’ for reference. Gravitation is relative was a day-project conceived with two students from the Prague Masterclass last year; our talent happened to be the 2016 Czech National Pole Dancing champion – so it made sense to develop a concept taking her talents into consideration. Given Prague has a reputation for being a bit crazy, it actually made sense to see how we might integrate both location and model into something a bit different. Street pole has been done many times, but I think perhaps not quite presented in the same way we intended: with a little visually plausible break from reality. The title reflects this, and is in turn a little play on the nature of gravity itself. Note: I added a coda of outtakes after the main sequence of images; this is to demonstrate how a few differences in execution (timing, presentation) can make a big difference to the impression of the final outcome. They may of course work with a different title; feel free to suggest one in the comments. MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C, 50, 100 and 150mm HC lenses and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

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Coda: Behind the scenes

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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. This series is perfection distilled!

    Wish you would be showing more posed portraits as your style is unique. Probably one option for that would be a dedicated Portrait Masterclass 😉

    • Thanks – portraits: I do far more than I expected to professionally; I guess I’ve not really warmed to it that much personally. I suppose there are the makings of a masterclass there (in combination with lighting)…if there is enough interest 🙂

  2. Wow! The entire series is wonderful! Very intriguing to view; the first was ‘mind-blowing’ to my eyes and brain, at first. This is a very creative concept and I love both the idea and the ways in which you executed it. The series is a masterpiece for you, and a great accomplishment for your beautiful and talented model. Congratulations to you both for your collaboration.
    Keep up the great work. I really enjoy seeing your work. It is inspiring.

  3. gnarlydognews says:

    serious departure from your usual clinical style; what’s going on? 😉
    It takes a great model to be able to pull off those moves and still look naturally comfortable with no visible stress.
    The shadows play a great part in creating the illusion too. I like this

  4. Chris Manders says:

    Ming, most entertaining! The title suggests familiarity with quantum gravity theory. To that end, may I suggest Chris Isham’s papers. You probably know his work, but, just in case, he is engaged in quantum theory at Imperial College….

  5. Wow… masterful.

  6. Really great Ming…Don’t think it would have worked as well if I were the model…..Being 81 would not help…Seriously, this is a saver.

  7. Interesting share of the BTS, nice outtakes. I really love your play with direction in the main series, with the first image even more so than others causing the viewer to question which way is up. Very talented imagery, and model.

  8. What a nice idea and stunning execution!

  9. John Pangilinan says:

    Does the model only hold the pose for a few seconds? It seems from the outtakes that there is timing involved in capturing her right when she strikes the right pose.

    My personal favorite is the 6th, it looks both surreal and believable at the same time because of the lack of visual cues as to what is actually up, at least to me.

    • She can hold it for longer than that on a proper surface, but the rough street poles create a huge amount of friction on the skin when supporting body weight – so in short, it hurts 🙂 There was also the problem of moving/obscuring foregrounds and gawking crowds intruding into the frame…

  10. quite original !!!

  11. Such a playful collection of stunning images. Your model is quite talented – very graceful. The 7th image down is my favorite.

  12. brakes "even" says:

    Title: MAMACITA!

    (I can think of other titles too, but given this is a family-oriented website…)

  13. Whimsical series. Quite fun!


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