Photoessay: Museo Alfa, part I

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I had the opportunity to spend a day photographing the cars at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo just outside Milan. It wasn’t just the famous cars that were interesting – there you already sort of knew what to expect, so it was more a case of finding interesting angles. The real treasures were the ones you didn’t know about – the lines, the curves, the detailing all speaking to a time when a lack of mass production and regulation allowed for a lot more variety. Can you imagine a car that wasn’t symmetrical left to right today, due to hand beaten panels? Or with red front lamps? Coming from a time when it’s getting increasingly difficult to differentiate between one brand and another…let’s just say it was a refreshing change, and yes, they really don’t make them like they used to (rust jokes aside). MT

Part one of several, probably.

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, mostly the 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. “Look here, what art they have done!”
    I can’t help think, for better or worse, the nature of photography as art is often derivative of the art and beauty of the subject – architecture, cars, models. It’s both the greatness and weakness of photography. “Seeing.”

    • The weakness is when the photo relies on the physical object; the strength is when it transcends it by presenting it in a way never imagined by its creator. The onus for the latter is very much on us.

  2. That’s a great series. Image No.3 makes me very curious to see that car in full.

    One of the most beautiful cars in automotive history must be the 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Touring Corsa Spider. Did they have one?

  3. My attempts at photographing cars are limited to finding the occasional enthusiast gathering where the owners display their treasures. Unfortunately, in my corner of the world the “classic” car means something built in the late 1960s or ‘70s…US domestic, large, and often garish. Once in a while, though, one of the remaining few old-school,hot rodders will show up with an item deserving of the term.
    '32 Ford Roadster (1 of 1)
    It then becomes an endless task removing all the reflected beverage coolers, folding chairs, and beer-bellied old guys always leaning in for a better look. Sometimes worth it.

  4. I spend an unhealthy amount of time (mostly wasted) trawling through articles and comments on DPR, PetaPixel, Fstoppers, YouTube etc about gear. It always leaves me feeling rather sordid and self-loathing. I then come here and remember that photography is about art and beauty. Bravo as always for such an impressive collection. Now if only you would do more articles comparing the Z7 to the A7Siii and issues of overheating in the R5 I would never have to leave…

  5. lenspeeper says:

    Several years ago my wife and I went to Arrezzo where the Museo Alfa Romeo was then located. We arrived a few minutes before lunch time. As we walked around, I was telling my wife about the significance of each Alfa. You see, I owned an Alfa at the time and since my teen years I have been a big Alfa fan. Anyway, the Administrator evidently had overheard me and said, while the Museo would close for lunch, we could remain, unattended and enjoy walking around the exhibits. So we were there, alone, with all those deliciously wonderful vintage world class Alfa Romeos. She later returned after her lunch and about an hour later when we were about to leave, she gave us a lovely commemorative desk ornament from the Museo Alfa Romeo. As I look at it now on my desk, it reminds me of one of the most memorable events in my 87+ years and I smile.

  6. It is a shame that in America ( and soon the rest of the world! ) we all ( except for me ) drive bricks. I think close to 50% of cars sold are pick-up trucks and probably 30% SUVs and the rest cars. Talk about a no taste world. Can you imagine a museum filled with pick-up trucks and SUVs! It will happen ( every dumb thing eventually happens ). The first thing retired American males do upon retirement is go buy themselves a pick-up truck. What are they going to be hauling when most are obese and can hardly walk! Have you checked out Elon Musk’s pick-up truck monstrocity? Seems most American males love it…………and if I not wrong, Ferrari will soon have a SUV. Poor Enzo will roll over in his grave!! Glad you gave me an opportunity for this before breakfast rant.

    • Worse: uniform, largely indistinguishable bricks that are mostly disposable and have replaceable rather than repairable components.

      You’ll get no argument from me; I’ll only buy an SUV if there’s an actual need for one (i.e. going off road) and even then, I’d prefer to have something smaller (don’t want to get stuck!). Until that point…well, I suppose modern M cars are all 4WD now anyway…

  7. Very nice series Ming! A car is one of my favorite objects to shoot. It has so many details, so many angles, and allows for easy access all around it given its size. I tried to capture some thoughts on photographing cars here:

  8. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    “The devil is in the detail”. Or rather – in this case – in both the detail and the finish.
    You ask “can you imagine?” – well, I had never before come across a car maker whose detailing included not only the brand name on the pedals, but also etching the name on the headlight lens. Now that really IS “class”!
    And peering inside, these cars simply exude hand made quality and craftsmanship. Something vinyl and plastic can never hope to achieve.

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