On-assignment photoessay: Preparations

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When on assignment, there are images you shoot to the brief, and the bonus ones you shoot for yourself: sometimes they aren’t really corporate safe or commercial-clean, but they have a something – texture, light, grit – that appeals to something personal. I always try to respond to these scenes in an instinctive way: just shoot, sort them out later, and package separately for your client in the hopes they might use them, or at least see and appreciate even if they don’t (because they don’t fit the look and palette you’ve already established). Still – I think all photographers need to feel moved in this kind of way; if you don’t, then the desire to experiment and create might not be as strong as it should be… MT

Images shot with a Nikon Z7/24-70 and D850/70-200/4, and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. Loved these. Beautiful tones (and patterns). Almost abstract like.
    Quick question. The assignment required monochrome or these are only for this article? Wondering whether clients value these industrial pics in monochrome only.

  2. Brian Nicol says:

    Hi Ming, I love the abstract nature of the your black & white images and am inspired to do more B&H. I particularly am drawn to the gloves and rebar. I love the contrast between the fabric and metal and so on. Thank you for sharing – you certainly are inspiring! Cheers. Brian

  3. There is the one of a worker’s hands with gloves on (a woman worker, if I were to hazard a guess) doing the heavy lifting of some tricky construction stuff, and then the enigma of mere gloves lying on construction material; signalling the end of another day’s work perhaps? Liked that combination with a riddle element.
    Fine example of photographic skills and imagination!

    Can’t help noticing that the Nikon Z7 and the kit lens increasingly seems to be your equipment of choice these days

  4. Wonderful compositions, gorgeous b&w tonality!

  5. Michael Hanson says:

    Are the Z7 and D850 inspiring you to shoot in this distinctive B+W style, meaning clipped blacks, smoothly rolled off highlights, sharp and clean images? It looks like the sort of monochrome you find in the fine art world. Very nice. I’ve personally always struggled to get pleasing monochrome from my digital images. The closest I’ve come is Silver Efex Pro’s Acros emulation (with a lot of tweaks).

    • No, I shot like this a long time ago with both film and other cameras. From the days when we had limited DR and had to work with tonal gradation and essential subjects only in the highlights…this is just much nicer because the transitions are smoother.

  6. Your choices of images and the framing indeed tell th story! Of course your workflow and processing are second to none!

  7. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    In short – without this freedom of expression, ceativity would wither and die. The world would be a poorer place, then

  8. Great pictures. Black/White supports the impression. For me the intro picture is my favorite.


  9. Great! These are truly wonderful. Within the limits of confidentiality I’d be very interested to know what is being built and how much direction did this client provide about what to shoot. Also what are those metal blocks with numbers?

    • Thanks – a couple of projects in this case; foundation works for a large site that will later have mixed use high rises on it. The metal blocks with numbers are test cures for the concrete batches to check strength etc.

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