Photoessay: Museum

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There are some places you visit where the weight of accumulated history is so great that you can’t help but feel it everywhere you go; at times you feel like you’re walking through a living museum of sorts. Part of that is probably because of the accumulated objects, part of that is because of the people who’ve been living with those accumulated objects for so long that they’ve become a part of them in a way. There’s no denying that culture and society are both path dependent and self-reinforcing; yet I wonder to what degree popular culture is making things oddly homogenous across a much larger distance than before. ‘Culture’ is an interesting term because it’s come to mean similar things across the world: the arts, the erudition and gentility. I suppose we should be thankful it isn’t the size of your bank balance or number of nuclear missiles…MT

This series was shot with an iPhone 11 Pro and edited in-phone, except for the second image, which was shot with a Nikon Z7, a 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

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Prints from this series are available on request.


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


  1. David Burns says:

    These are very interesting Ming. Wonderful series, possibly the best that I have seen from you with a few absolute stars for me, notably 1, 2, 6, 7 ……. naah, they are all great!

    Put me out of my misery though and tell me what aircraft the cockpit picture in no. 5 represents!

    Congratulations on your vision.

  2. Authentic !!

  3. Ørjan Laxaa says:

    It is stunning what skilled photographers are able to pull of with a phone.

    Do you edit the photos in Lighroom on your phone, or do you use some other app?

  4. I have a morning routine of the London Times, The Guardian, The NY Times, Ming Then, Fred Miranda and then Breakfast – I am now retired so I have this lazy luxury and after a busy life I am satisfied that I have earned it. The first three frequently depress or annoy however it is the fourth – yours – that frequently provokes a minor vocal outburst of exasperation based on delight for an image and realization that although my eye very often sees similar compositions and images they are only pale shadows of your results.
    This morning seeing your headline image the word “Vermeer” immediately flashed across my brain – similarly with my wife urged, unprimed, to look. Superb – despite the tool used … which threatens to undermine the investment of enthusiasm of many years in the minutiae of previous imaging mechanics and techniques. Both ironic and grateful -Thank you.

    • Thank you. There’s more than enough negativity in the world – it seems most of the news outlets thrive on it, bloggers are contrarian for the sake of getting attention – that I feel like there’s absolutely no need to say anything unless there’s something constructive to contribute.

      I enjoy a good camera as much as the next guy (And I’ll be the first to admit my recent irrational purchases are more than an indicator of that) so you’ll get no argument from me about the tool, but I just as often use what I have immediately at hand – a picture with a clear idea is preferable to no picture at all…

  5. „Elderly person stuck on repeat at times“ – Just wanted to express my compassion, feeling at times the same (e.g. think of reading about politics) and not knowing if it is goog or bad. Words from Jean Pierre lifted my self esteem considerably, many thanks! 😉
    … and my apologies for interfering…

    • I am sorry if you have to suffer through my repeats! 😅

      • Suffering only with the media… Not at all with your site. I am surprised again and again – I have been to many places you were and seen the same sujets. Your interpretations are always fresh, new and – as I have already said: surprising – because I have not seen them in that particular way you did. Opens ones eyes. Have to go there once again…
        From my point of view repeated deja-vu‘s are often sad and discouraging – e.g. with regard to ability of the mankind to learn and progress – not technologically, that is. On the other hand, I often visit same places in the mountains and at the seaside. I have seen them in spring, summer, autumn and winter, under various weather and light conditions. They repeat themselves, but in different „clothes“, light and moods. Never can gat enough of it. It is a real pain to cull them…

        • Part of the joy of photography is that we don’t see the same things…everybody brings a fresh perspective to the table based on their experiences, preferences and perspectives. That said, I try not to go anywhere with preconceptions as to what I might be looking for in advance – I find this helps keep you receptive and open to new things.

  6. John Heintz says:

    Your iPhone work is so outstanding that I’d get one if you’d publish an iPhone masterclass. Please. How to work without a viewfinder or tiltable screen.

  7. Michael says:

    Truly amazing. I’d skipped the explanatory line about equipment used but had to click the info button in Flickr to find out. The image is so compelling. Then I returned to the series to find all but the second image were iPhone shots. Good grief! To bend an old saw to near the breaking point, clearly it’s the eye…not the “i”…that makes the difference. Still, you gotta seize ‘em when you sees ‘em. Few tools make that more likely. Cheers to you for infinite flexibility.

    • Haha, thank you! But yes: as much as I like good tools, I can work with any tool – and sometimes that in itself introduces restrictions/ challenges that in turn spur creativity in other directions…

  8. I very much like how you make full use of the wide nature of the iPhone’s lens along with solid composition skills to make photographs that invite study to truly take in all the details. You must have been inches behind the suited fellow under the painting to bring him in that close!

  9. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Fascinating – I sometimes wonder what this blog is – a cultural centre – a photography school – an art class – a philosophy course or whatever else you come up with. I look forward to each “post” and miss it so much, when you are busy with other things.

    I had to pause a while, at the entry the first image is so powerful that it arrested my thoughts and my finger on the button, as I drank in the composition and admired the “painting” it creates.

    Then onto the explanation of this collection of you work. And through the doorway, to immerse myself, my eyeballs, my thoughts, in the series of photos that follows. A trip through different museums, different countries (I think), Different views – sometimes a detail image of an exhibit, sometimes a detail of a museum visitor drinking in what he sees, sometimes details of the museum itself – a kaleidoscopic selection from a gifted photographer!

    • Thank you – I’m not sure either. It started off as education and reviews, moved to philosophy and photography, segued into the subjects themselves and is now more like whatever I feel like writing about on the day – having covered pretty much everything there is to say about photography besides reviewing the latest widgets.

      I’m 99.99% sure the first image was influenced by something I might have seen whilst in said museum! 😛

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        “.. . . having covered pretty much everything there is to say about photography . . .”

        That’s why it’s so interesting to delve into the blog and read past postings! A treasure trove of information!

        • In all seriousness…I am starting to feel like an elderly person stuck on repeat at times. Or worse, you know that the answer is neither short nor simple, and you don’t want to launch into an explanation that requires half of the history of photography for context…

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            ROTFL etc – “I am starting to feel like an elderly person stuck on repeat at times” That’s the stage after “knowledge”. It’s called “wisdom”. You’re just a decade or two ahead of the normal timetable.

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