Photoessay: Eastern melancholy, part I

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Every image is a reflection of the photographer’s state of mind at the time of capture; we see and interpret the world through a lens of personal bias. We either notice things that are extremely in sync with us – or extremely opposite. It is difficult to say whether the collective feeling exists or we are simply applying tunnel vision to only notice what we want to see. Going back to curate through one’s archives tends to yield very telling glimpses into your psyche at the time, and something much easier to see objectively in hindsight. These images were shot more than six months ago, but reviewing the entire set yields an almost manic split between the bright, cheerful and happy, and the downright depressing. I honestly don’t remember what I was feeling at the time – probably not strongly positive or negative – but mainly that the environment was so different that it was rather difficult to ‘be a mirror’ and let the images come rather than looking for them. What’ll be interesting is the counterpoint part II post… MT

This series was shot in Istanbul with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 50, 100 and 150mm lenses, and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass Workflow. Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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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 unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. liramusic says:

    My kind of song, very nice.

    • liramusic says:

      btw, when I did journalism I was if the binary idea where I did not feel what was going on but recorded. When I am in the art mindset I am opposite to that and totally feel the exact mood that is being put forth. Just wanted to say that and music goes the same exact way with me. A gig is one way, art is the other, just for me.

  2. A very interesting point Ming, I suppose there are ‘mood anomalies’.
    Just by coincidence, last night my wife was sitting and staring at the wall near her, and I asked her what was wrong. She said that the series of six photos that were in a group on the wall were “really bleak”. They are part of a large group of photos I took on three road trips around the US, and are of closed up motels, (victims of cheap flights, traffic pattern changes, etc.)
    She’s right, they are rather bleak, but they were meant to be, to illustrate something lost. And yet, while taking them, I was very much enjoying myself and in very good spirits. So some of the bleakest and most depressing photos I have taken, (according to my wife), were taken while I was generally in a very good mood.
    I guess your mood and your photos can be quite separate?

    • A good point, Harry. This is similar to me and music. Much of what I listen to others find melancholic, but to me it is so beautiful it makes me happy. Also, when it comes to photography, if I am in a “depressed” state, then I am probably not out shooting. The fact I am out shooting makes me very happy (generally). This doesn’t mean I never make melancholic frames…ultimately, if there is a compelling scene before me, I am going to shoot it. What’s my point? I don’t know….perhaps it is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to be open to behold requires engagement with the world, which itself requires a certain degree of mental positivity.

      • Good point, Ian: you’re unlikely give shooting or creating anything if you’re even remotely depressed.

      • I agree, to be open to behold, you would probably have to be in a positive state of mind, which for me, isn’t all the time. When depressed, I don’t feel like going out and taking pictures, (or doing anything else), but, this has given me an idea. The next time I am depressed, I’m deliberately going to go out and shoot some frames. This is a no-lose situation. I’ll either come up with a few interesting photos, (who knows what depression will conjure up?), or it will put me in a better mood because I enjoy doing it so much.
        What do you think?

    • Definitely. Sometimes completely opposite since the opposites stand out more, if anything…one more reason why I have fairly empty walls at home. It’s difficult to find any subject of universal resonance.

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