Photoessay: Stolen moments

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In my mind, this set feels vaguely voyeuristic – stealing snippets of time from my subjects, without any of them noticing. Photographing around corners, street furniture and other foregrounds; taking small glimpses into unguarded moments of an individual – what were they thinking? What were they feeling? Where did they come from? Where are they going next? Perhaps the uncertainty of continuity combined with the strong individual emotions and expressions is what drew me to these scenes; the kind of tensions precipitated by something seemingly trivial to an outsider, yet intensely important to a single person. I didn’t set out to shoot these; they just happened across the course of a week and about seven thousand frames. Sometimes our minds pick up on recurring themes we aren’t consciously aware of. In this case, both photographer and subjects were lost in the moment – they in their lives, me in that intense blink of observation. MT

This set was shot with a Nikon D850, 24-120VR and post processed with Photoshop 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 unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. Another demonstration of your mastery. I love these images. As others have implied so much street photography is mundane or trite. Yours are truly exceptional.

  2. Too crispy. Your images are truly wonderful in composition and technique, but too crispy, too clinical. My humble opinion.

  3. Really well done, great timing

  4. Some fine shots here

  5. Moments well stolen; enjoyed the series very much. Thanks for sharing them.

  6. A fine tribute to humanity …. as individuals and in relationships between each other. Thank you for seeing these moments in such clarity, capturing them, and sharing them. It’s a better world.

  7. I have gotten to the point where I absolutely hate street photography. If I see one more picture of a person walking past a sign, or a close-up of some strange person staring into the camera I’ll go mad.
    Your posts of this type though, remind me of what it can be in the right hands. Touching, funny, thought-provoking. The photo of the young couple by the water would make just about anybody smile.
    This is what street photography should be.
    Beautifully done, Ming.

  8. A wonderful series! I love how these all give the sense of peeking in on people’s lives, but without feeling voyeuristic. Or to put it another way, they are all beautiful, candid portraits. In none of them does it feel like the subject is aware of the camera, yet I can’t imagine any them being anything but pleased with the resulting photograph.

    • Thanks. I like to think it’s the openness of the settings – there’s no sense of crowding the subject in, but all were very much in open public and therefore subject to being seen by a whole host of people passing by…

  9. and what wonderful moments !

  10. John Grech says:

    wow…my kind of photos…like a short poem that distills a moment yet opens a realm of thoughts…bravo!

  11. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    It’s always a surprise and an excitement and a pleasure, to see more of the photos of one of the world’s best contemporary photographers, Ming. I think I like 15 of them, the best. (Or was it 16?)

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