Full circle

1/11/20: Final update to the recommended gear list

Almost 20 years ago to the day, a teenager made an unwise camera choice* to record what he was experiencing in case he might later forget. In reality, the choice was really to consciously notice the world around him and single out the bits that mattered – starting immediately with the things he was involved in, which at the time was the crazy period of growing up known as ‘university’. He’d used the family camera before, of course – for the obligatory vacation and landmark images and with the admonition not to ‘waste film on pictures without people in them.’ University represented freedom and the first time he could decide what to aim the camera at – back then, merely his friends’ silly poses and an image or two without people that he felt compelled to take, but wasn’t sure why. It wouldn’t be until much, much later that the process was a conscious one and more importantly, transcended the medium.

*APSC Fuji 1010 Tiara, if you must know. It was battery hungry, the film was expensive and the image quality was questionable. But hey, it was small and unobtrusive, and the really cool looking Ricoh GR1v was way too expensive for a student, even then.

I had no idea that the decision to start seeing the world around me would not just sustain me through the creative depression of the corporate wilderness for the better part of a decade, but take me to places I’d never even dreamed of. It would give me a respite in lunch-hour sized chunks from the sheer mind numbing boredom of audit. It would bring me to the attention of the watch collecting community – in lieu of actually being able to afford anything at the time – and brand principals in the early days of online forums, and later supply my first professional job. It would take me through a part time contributor position at a magazine that would lead to editor, disagreements over commercial/editorial integrity and the formation of this site, to write the truth and present it how I felt was right, independent of influence or dependency on advertising. It would lead me to make ‘pictures without people in them’ for companies and individuals I’d never thought I’d be involved with, let alone creatively contributing to. It would put me in a position to take user feedback and personal experience to directly develop better products with just about all of the major camera manufacturers – and it would leave a lot of things tainted in the harsh light of reality. It would train me to think like an entrepreneur and be self sufficient, and give me the ability to present the best face of my projects to the world. It would give me a meditative reprieve from times when I didn’t want to dwell too much on my immediate situation. It would lead me to question and seek to understand art, human psychology, my own motivations, and what truly motivates us; it would help me to understand the meaning of balance in more ways than one. Above all, it would make me close friends around the world. For all of that, I’ll always be thankful.

It hasn’t always been an easy ride, as anybody close to me will confirm. I’ve had my fair share of uncertain income, business mistakes, taking on jobs I wasn’t entirely sure I could pull off and unpleasant surprises from clients, unrelated individuals, industry peers and entities and everything in-between. I’ve been the target of jealousy and smear campaigns and entitlement and copyright infringement. Some of that frustration I’ve shared here before. Months of drought alternated – often back to back – with months so full I barely had time to sleep and was running on pure adrenalin. I’ve held anywhere between three and six ostensibly full time jobs at any given time, for most of my full time professional photographic career since 2012 – a close friend once joked that I was doing the work of six for the pay of two and a half, which is not far from the truth. I entered professional photography at a rapidly changing time and probably the last period to really make a run of things before fragmentation into quantity, the whole social media influencer mess; my guess at the time was I’d have 3-5 years before I’d have to figure out what to do next.

During the times I’d previously dabbled in trying to turn pro, I’d figured out that I would have to have a diversified approach: a professional portfolio that was focused enough to look specialised but with enough skills to take on pretty much any job; a public presence to build reputation and audience; something with more consistent income like teaching or education (which turned into workshops and videos); and something to put all of the pieces together to deliver unique value: this would be the consulting side for the camera companies. It seems that the strategy worked a little too well, because to this day people seem to assume all I do is reviews – even though that’s less than 5% of the content of this site. But they played an important part since validation is by far the most commonly searched-for thing photographically. Why that’s the case, I’ll never know – everybody has different objectives and opinions are therefore of at best relative value.

As it turns out, my workload split itself pretty much equally between professional work, education, consulting, and this site. In the last eight and a half years, I shot 202 assignments excluding those for my own watch company; led nearly 50 workshops around the world including smuggling six Americans into Cuba in 2014; produced close to 200 hours of educational video and two years of the weekly photoshop workflow series; wrote 1,815 posts (and owe Robin Wong a big thanks for another 80+) and replied to nearly 100,000 of your comments. At peak, there were nearly a quarter of a million unique visitors every month, and there have been just shy of 30 million visitors to date. I had half a dozen exhibitions internationally and nearly fell out of a plane making a series that in the end, never got shown. I worked with Hasselblad, DJI, Zeiss, Olympus, Leica, Sigma, Sony, was ambassador for three of those brands and nearly started my own camera company. I wore out three keyboards writing this site, and a further four Wacom tablets in retouching and post processing. Lastly: I don’t have an exact number, but my best guess is I shot more than two million images.

That’s a lot of work – an entire lifetime, for some; certainly a career’s worth for me. (And for increasing numbers of dishonest others, a place to steal content to farm ad revenue.)

If things are starting to take on a tone of finality, that’s because this is the point at which I confirm the suspicions you’ve been having: MT the writer and mingthein.com are both going into retirement. Between the demands of my ‘other’ job, not being able to travel, and trying not to repeat myself – I’ve run out of things to say. There really isn’t anything meaningful which we have not covered on this site in the usual rational, systematic fashion with plenty of images – there are certainly subtleties on subtleties about approach and theory and philosophy that we could continue to debate, but at that point, I’d be writing dissertations for an audience of at best, one. The truth is, I’ve said everything I wanted to say and more; I’ve done enough thinking and dissection about how and why I shoot that the whole enormous mass has become intuitive – and I want to go back to applying that and shooting the things that interest me, for me, without feeling the need to create content for the entertainment of somebody else. The internet has a nasty habit of a short attention span: they tend to look at things in tl;dr terms and not bother to use the search function. There is admittedly quite a lot of frustration in having a comment taken out of context and applied without relativity; a really good example is the inability to decouple equipment from process from creative objective. Yes, I go through a lot of gear. No, it isn’t for the sake of having the Next Best Thing or some sort of placebo – it’s because I’m in search of what I think of as envelope; the ability to achieve very specific creative objectives, which change – and therefore so must the tools.

MM005370

But it does get tiring having to explain this all the time. I’ve always said that the very best position to be in as a photographer is an amateur: a person who engages in the activity for the love of it, without the constraints of shooting to a client’s expectation – be that a social media audience or a paying employer. This is my chance to go back to being an amateur, at least for a little while. The whole COVID situation has enforced a strange motivation on us creatives: at the start, I had one of my most productive periods because there wasn’t a lot else to do being under lockdown and unable to leave the house. But it was productivity in a different avenue – I did a lot of designing, and almost no writing or photographing. I’ve long come to accept that creativity needs multiple outlets; a single medium isn’t enough to fulfil one’s vision. But for photographers, the last few months has been a bad period not just professionally but also creatively: when you’re constrained to the same familiar environment you’ve probably already photographed to death within the first few months of moving in, what’s left? You’re forced to either not shoot, reshoot the same images, or try to see something different in the familiar. Many documented the personal process of lockdown, including myself; but after a while, routine looks the same. But the process of doing it felt oddly familiar: it was like starting to shoot all over again, and I kinda liked it.

The first time you do anything creative is difficult, because you’re not just grappling with trying to get the desired outcome from the building blocks you’ve got, but also the entire mechanical process of things. There are experiments that yield results that move you for reasons you don’t quite understand, and unfortunately cannot repeat; and others that fail completely. It was really that feeling of challenge and constraint again, and with the very same initial backdrop of documenting my personal sphere: it’s very easy to make different images of different subjects you’ve never seen before; it isn’t so easy to make different images of subjects you see all the time, but likely fail to notice. I found myself being forced to real see again, and in the process realised how much I’d been stuck in my comfort zone. The weight of experience becomes a tangibly corporeal thing that can sometimes hold you back from experimenting because of the expectations attached. Ironically, it seems the task of exiting my comfort zone would happen within the most comfortable of zones.

Except this time I had the vocabulary and technique to get the images I saw in my mind’s eye; but I just need that eye to see differently. I needed to not care about who would see the images (i.e. nobody); what I would use them for; what else I had to do with my time – in short, nothing more than whether I liked the result or not. All of the rational means of assessing and curating I use like the four things aren’t so much ignored as practiced and internalised to the point of becoming intuitive. I have had, and can have, pretty much whatever hardware I want; I can extract the full potential from that hardware. I needed an irrational, emotional thing to match an irrational, emotional process – something limited and constrained, but not constraining; something tactile and encouraging but not emotionless and functional. Yes, I did buy something; no, I’m not going to say what it is so I can avoid the risk of having it ‘spoiled’; I don’t need the affirmation of the internet that I made the right choice – I know I made the right choice for me. I enjoy the process of using it and it enables and encourages the kind of images that I’m making now – the images in this post – that move me but require no justification to anybody else. Odd as it may sound, the lack of negative emotional connotations for my tools is very important to me. It’s one of the reasons I have very few holdovers from previous collaborations/jobs/engagements; the creative in me needs a new, clean tool for a new job, and the businessman needs fiscal efficiency and low wastage.

There will always remain the need for dichotomy and contrast, however: I will still continue to produce work for my long-standing clients, and I’m fairly sure this creative loop will result in better work than before. I will still produce all of the images for my watch company because there’s a certain nice continuity between seeing a design that doesn’t exist, to translating it through physical process into an object, to being able to highlight detail and intent. As much as I hate retouching dust (now worse than ever with the kind of resolution media asks for and the insensitive cropping that accompanies it) – we aren’t going to move to CG imaging. Hell, I don’t even composite images – I’ve had more than one client surprised when they find out all of the watch images are a single shot in-camera and you can really see the same thing with your own eyes if the lights are set up right. It is a hard-won and exceptionally masochistic lost art that I have no intention of relinquishing.

At the same time as the world around us is changing and I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to travel to the places I have with the freedom we had previously – the immediate world around me is also changing. My daughter is growing up, and as much as I never quite understood the obsession and lack of objectivity that comes with photographing one’s children – it’s starting to make a little more sense to me. The last coupe of years have seen less photography and documentary of the younger one, offset against being busy with other things or directly involved and not having free hands or mental space to shoot – but I have the sudden realisation that time has skipped a gear and now seems to be progressing faster again. It’s certainly time to for me to put a bit more effort once again into trying to freeze her personality in a defining moment or two. She’s also turned into a bit of a camwhore, but I guess the outcome was always binary with a photographer father: either comfortable with being in front of the lens, or avoiding it entirely. At times I’m probably almost more self-conscious than she is about the camera.

In a post-pandemic world, I’m left wondering if faces are going to become a very personal thing; a mask lends a degree of not just immunological protection but also personality protection; it’s almost like the anonymity of the internet. We’re seeing a lot of bad behaviour that’s a lot harder to do if you know the person in front of you, and they know you; it’s just no longer personal anymore. Maybe if we go back to being able to travel again, we’re never quite going to have the same experience because people won’t look different; the subtle cues we get from the faces and expressions around us will be lost behind the mask. It makes me really want to take up portraiture; not just of the people I know or posed models, but a wide variety of subjects – almost more to feel what’s really going on at the present moment than to make an interesting image. I’ve said previously that portraiture is really the record of the relationship between the photographer and subject; but perhaps it can be more – it’s also the unspoken thoughts and emotions behind what was held back.

MM005335

There are professions that are always going to be a bit morose no matter how you view them – an undertaker, for example – but photography isn’t one of them. Anything creative (except perhaps accounting) should come with a sense of liberation and the satisfaction of having made order and beauty out of incoherent parts. When that joy is no longer present, then I sincerely believe you’re doing it wrong. There is a tricky balance between focusing entirely on photography and not having any meaning to photograph and focusing on other things and failing to see; the pro almost inevitably errs on the former side, and the majority of the population, the latter. The hobbyist gets lost in the camera store. I look back at the highlight reel of my own work, and realise the images that spoke to me then and still speak to me today are almost all spontaneous, and produced during those fleeting periods where curiosity balanced opportunity – the last day of a work trip set aside for personal meandering; the free afternoon of a workshop; the time when the weather was crap and we shot documentary on the assembly line instead of on location.

Planned images are limited by one’s means and imagination. Serendipitous ones are unlimited by chance and one’s subconscious. I need to travel again, but not hold any preconceptions about what I’m going to see, or inhibitions against photographing it. Development of any kind – creative or otherwise – can only happen if the right things are broken down in the process. It means leaving your comfort zone and trying something new; of not being afraid that the next step may lead down a dead end. Professional photography, this site, teaching, consulting – has gone from being dangerously scary with a side of doki-doki excitement to business as usual; nobody told me what I was supposed to do, but I eventually found a comfortable process. It’s probably going to be harder to break those habits than anything.

I feel like the only obvious thing left is the question of what’s next – Horologer MING is now no longer a new venture; at some point in the last year I got the distinct feeling we’d transitioned from being the new kids to having our own defined niche in the industry establishment. The plan was already brewing during peak photography for me; by 2016 the wheels were in motion and in 2017, our first model was released to much nail biting and eventually success. In the three years since our public debut, we’ve released 16 models, been shortlisted for and won the industry’s biggest award, and become both commercially viable and sought after. We won’t make the mistake of growing too fast and being unable to uphold the level of collector engagement we started off with; instead, we’ll aim for a sustainable point that lets us have meaningful conversations with our buyers, make watches that continue to interest us personally and have the resources, time and mental overhead to make interesting images and drive engaging cars. I’ve come to realize that the spark required to keep one’s enthusiasm alive is maintained both by not fixating too much on one thing and being open to cross-disciplinary inspiration; it’s hard to keep an open mind if you can’t see beyond your immediate situation.

I’m not ruling out another publicly shared/photographic project in future, but right now I have no idea what form that might take – or if it will happen at all. I’ve been so caught up in the ‘business as usual’ of keeping this site/ client commitments/ teaching/ consulting etc. running that I’ve frankly not had a lot of time to think about a major change in format or direction. Perhaps it will eventually come after some time off, and probably like most inspiration – come at the least expected point. The truth is, I’ve been a photographer for so long at this point – longer than I haven’t been one – I can’t stop being one. It isn’t possible to turn off the seeing, it isn’t possible to completely lose that impulse to frame and capture – even if it diminishes from time to time. I do know this, however – it’ll have to be something that lets me make images in line with my creative and personal benchmarks first and foremost; I will always be the “client”. The curation thus remains simple and there is nothing to defend, apologise or make excuses for – or be overly sensitive of an external opinion about.

I started off wanting to record my experiences. At around the same time, I acquired more than a passing interest in watches and cars; I got a ‘real’ job to pay for that and realised it wasn’t at all what I wanted to do, even if I was quite successful at it. I didn’t really become ‘me’ until I accepted that I would have to take some risks and do an unlikely combination of things to make the puzzle work; it came back to photography, and then watches. Even my watch collecting journey has gone in a circle from affordable to knowledgable and off the deep end to back to now producing accessible pieces with the benefit of knowledge obtained after coming back from the abyss – it is somehow therefore fitting that the ‘retirement camera’ is also the descendant of the one that resulted in my biggest previous creative shift, and a company I’d worked with previously. My fate indeed has as strong sense of deja vu about it – but I’m okay with that, because it feels like I got a second chance. Some of you may be disappointed that this post doesn’t contain a sort of retrospective ‘best of’; I’d argue the opposite because it’s instead a glimpse into what’s to come. I’ll leave a clue: it’s really about photographing light first, transients second, and everything else as a supporting actor. Light and timing transcend the subject from what it is most of the time, into what it could be.

It’s been an intense eight and a half years. Thank you to all of you for the support*, encouragement, challenges and friendship – it’s time for me to start making pictures for myself again, and I hope you all continue to do so too. New comments will be disabled from the end of September and I will no longer be replying, but the archive listings will be updated and site itself will remain active for the foreseeable future – producing it was a huge undertaking and there’s a lot of emotional attachment here. It only makes sense to leave it up as a resource – perhaps inspiring some people, perhaps rewarding others with a kernel or two of insight. If it accomplishes that much – I’ve achieved far more here than I set out to do. MT

*And a special thank you to the patrons who’ve donated monthly to keep the site running – I will manually cancel the subscriptions on 1 September. I will continue to remain online in a more stream of consciousness format @mingthein on Instagram.

Finally, for the next two weeks until the end of September (extended by popular demand) all workshop videos at the teaching store will be 50% off with the code FULLCIRCLE50 (not combinable with other bundles). I’ll also be making the Weekly PS Workflow Archive available for purchase as a set here (92 episodes and 120+ hours of material covering a huge range of examples of both my own and reader images). This is the ideal (and last) chance for you to complete your set if you are missing videos. 🙂 

MING 18.01 H41

MING 18.01 H41 diver, August 2020 / 3rd anniversary release. In a 40×12.9mm grade 5 titanium case with matching bracelet, synthetic diamond coated bezel, ceramic superluminova X1 and 1km depth rating. Available while stocks last at www.ming.watch

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

Comments

  1. Great B/W images. I could learn much of you. So i will come back soon 🙂

    Best regards
    Bernhard

  2. Very nice piece of writing. Thanks for that and for all your work. I don’t know why, but it feels as if you are heading a personal crisis and a divorce. Good luck.

  3. “Grazie per tutto, Signor Thiem”.
    Thank you for the many things I have learned here, from you, your words, and your photographs. You gave a lot.
    Buona luce!
    Marino Mannarini

  4. Jonathan Hodder says:

    Thank you very much for the inspiration and guidance over the years, Ming. All the best.

  5. Many, many thanks Mister. I will miss you.

  6. Dear Ming.

    Everything comes to an end. And now we are here I would like to thank you for everything we had together. A good thing is I have every documented and hence your super prints even added value for me.
    Thanks for everything you thought me and have a wonderful future puzzling with what Ming is puzzling with. Thanks Ming.

    Gerner

    • It has indeed been quite a journey, Gerner – thank you for sharing it with me, for the support, encouragement, conversations, experiences and above all, friendship 🙂

      Ming continues to puzzle over the next image, but just won’t write about it afterwards 😛

  7. David Burns says:

    Ming, it has all been said here in the comments, so I will not repeat it all again but……….

    Thank you for your images, your beautiful english, your unashamedly philosophical, intellectual approach, your concentration on image and especially for me, your courage in tonal treatment of monochrome images! Always stimulating and a shining beacon in a sometimes rather gloomy fog of questionable photographic websites on the internet.

    Above all, thank you for your extraordinary hard work! I don’t know how you managed to keep it going with so much energy and to such a high standard for so long. Huge respect.

    Best wishes and good luck. David.

  8. It’s been a great ride! Thank you for all that you have done and given, and another thank you for keeping the site up for future access (for the time being). I will miss your thoughts on many subjects, but I wish you well in your next endeavors. I need to take a look at your videos as there have been a few of your techniques that I would like to learn more about, mostly relating to color. Perhaps someday you may have the time and inclination to do some 1:1 coaching or mentoring for those wanting, and willing to pay for, some useful feedback?

    All the best,

    –Ken

  9. Sad to see the end of something very special… Well, here’s to new beginnings; time for me to fly to KL and get you hooked on shooting with a technical camera! 😉

    • Shot with a 4×5 monorail in the past, then the HTS, and always TS lenses for product/watch/architecture work. I’m quite happy to leave the big and heavy behind or in the studio, and have been for some time. But hey, whatever works for you in results and enjoyment of the process 🙂

  10. The blog king is dead. Long live the insta … oh never mind, the king is dead, let’s all go home now and find something to get drunk on. It was good while it lasted, much like freedom of speech and democracy. But times have a changed. Ming is smart to leave the titanic at the high point. Still, I’m sad.

    • Hardly the king. More like the boy pointing out the emperor’s new clothes didn’t exist. But yes, time to have a celebratory (or commiseratory) beverage or three. I’m just moving on to point out the clothes are missing elsewhere now…

  11. Thank you, Ming. This site and your Flickr group were essential to me when I started to take photography seriously a few years ago. Your photographs are an inspiration.

  12. I am very sad to see the end of this blog.I think this is probably the most articulate photography blog that I’ve read. You are also a cut above when it comes to the quality of your photos. I am truly awed by your talent. I hope that life brings you everything you desire.

  13. Thank you, Ming. Your photography and your writing on this website is one of the things that got me into photography many years ago. Thank you for helping me get started on that journey, and good luck with your next steps.

  14. I’ve been reading your blog on and off since 2013. I found it while searching for a camera review, and kept coming back for more of your writings on how to use my camera well, and make images I like with it. Shooting technique, how to think about visualizing the image, examples… I’ve learned so much. Thank you Ming for all the thoughts and pictures you’ve shared over the years. I hope to be able to absorb and learn enough from the archive before it falls off the Internet :P.

    Best wishes for your next endeavours!

  15. Wojciech Czapliński says:

    Ming, your blog was one of the few photographic sites I’ve read, thank you! On the other hand – when can I expect Ming GMT piece?
    Best wishes!

  16. Life is a Journey. Welcome to the next step.

  17. Goodbye and thanks for all the fish! I found out about this news from DPReview forums. I never had a chance to fully explore your site and now it’s going away.

  18. Joseph C Iannazzone says:

    Ming, thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge for most of the past decade. Best of luck in the future and I hope to find a new post someday down the road.

  19. Dave Luttmann says:

    I am so glad to have been able to enjoy your writing and photographs over the years. I hope that once in a while, you’ll pop by here to say hello an update us.

  20. Jeff Smith says:

    Ming, thanks for sharing you thoughts and images, and for your dedication to replying to comments. I wish you the best going forward and hope you can get the adrenaline flowing from driving an engaging car. Jeff Smith

  21. Michael Perini says:

    You always used the best equipment, but always used it in service to the photograph. You always made the picture the most important thing. You taught he rest of us in the best possible way a teacher can teach—By Example, that it is ALWAYS about the Picture.
    You conducted yourself with a level of honesty and integrity that in my experience is unique on the web and rare in the world
    Your work is SO good and SO consistent that the endeavor was less a blog than a Master Class, -a place you go to be encouraged and taught to do better work, by someone who is better than you are.
    After years of reading this is my first and only comment, and while it is wholly inadequate it is something that (like Photography) I “can’t not do”
    For what it is worth, You are absolutely right, you have to focus on what is truly important to YOU.
    You will succeed beyond your wildest dreams……. Godspeed
    Michael

    • Thank you, Michael – I’m glad the message of ‘the image first’ was received loud and clear. I’ve always used the best equipment in service of the image, but not necessarily the best equipment on an absolute basis – there are times when a phone is just right, and at no time does the composition change with the hardware. Making the seeing independent of the process is tough, but we must also enjoy the process in order to want to keep experimenting and pushing the limits of it. I’m going to do that now photographically – at the risk of making images that don’t work; at the risk of making work that others can’t quite understand because there is an evolution process that’s clear in my mind but path dependent. That’s fine; I am merely returning to first principles of ‘the work of an amateur should satisfy themselves’. 🙂

  22. What an incredible journey it has been. Thank you so very much for providing us with this window for watching and learning. I’ll be ever grateful for what I’ve learned – or how I’ve developed, rather. Your next big splash will be elsewhere, but I believe the ripples of this site will travel further and longer than anyone can foresee.

    Best of luck in your next chapters, and drive safe!

    • Thanks Tarmo! The next splash has already started – I won one of those golden fingers at last year’s watch industry equivalent of the Oscars 😉

  23. Dear Ming, thank you very much for all the things you shared with us. I hope you keep it open so we can all come back and read and read and read again. All the best. (maybe we’ll meet some day in KL’s No Black Tie )

    • Thanks – yes, the site remains online for the foreseeable future. No Black Tie has alas been closed permanently since the start of the year…

  24. Thank you so much Ming for all those years. This was ne of my favorite blogs on photography. Things changed fast lately and this is probably the right moment to switch your focus. All the luck in the world!

    • I have to admit I’m thankful it wasn’t entirely due to recent circumstances, but a planned transition over the last couple of years – it isn’t possible to just drop and do a 180 turn without planning. But now that the other project is maturing and this one is fully grown, it’s time to switch focus…

  25. Henri van der Sluis says:

    Dear Ming
    I have always enjoyed reading your blogs and will miss your nice well written stories and your fine photography
    You have truly been inspiring with this website
    Will miss it dearly

  26. Hello Ming!
    What a message! Although something formed itself for a time already, when it finally arrives, we are still surprised. We should cherish and value what is more. A man with such spirit, entrepreneur vein, talent, energy and curiosity does not stop, he only goes further on a new path.Sadly, I did not meet you in person, it would be interesting.
    I am grateful for your essays, learned a lot or just enjoyed them. As an amateur since 6 years, I perfectly understand your desire and wish you wellon your further journey!
    Regards,
    Robert

    PS
    I missed a couple of years with my princess, do not letit happen to you! 😃

    • PS 2:
      Please let the site up and accessible, if possible. If not, please give me/us „the doom date“, I would like to print some essays for later reading. Thank you!

      • It continues to be live for the foreseeable future. But please go ahead and print if you wish, there are so many if you forget to bookmark it may be tricky to find them again. Sometimes even I forgot what I wrote until I looked up the reference links and found I’d already done it several times from different approaches…

    • Thanks Robert – yes, once you feel you have done all you set out to in a particular field, it’s time to find a new one (which is exactly what started three years ago, and is getting into full swing now) 🙂

  27. Hi Ming

    I have been waiting & looking forward to Workflow 4 & more new ‘camera profiles’ but I guess it probably isn’t going to happen.

    How can I learn to create ‘Camera Profiles’ which are similar to those you created for Workflow 3?
    Is the learning curve very steep for creating ‘camera profiles’?

    • No, sorry, it isn’t going to happen – also because I haven’t found anything more effective/efficient than Workflow III. Workflow II covers creation of camera profiles.

  28. I was introduced to your website through a work colleague and our mutual friend Peter Bendheim.
    Have been an avid follower of your site since that day, whenever Peter and I discuss anything photographic, your name must come up in the conversation.

    A very big Thank You for the content and insightful reading.

    Good luck and all the best in your future creative endeavours.

  29. Thank you for your insightful articles over the years. No doubt you will enjoy more time shooting your lovely princess!

  30. Hello Ming, there isn’t really much I could possibly add reading through the comments that have already been posted. Thank you for many, many inspiring hours on your website(s)/blog – it’s been a pleasure!

  31. Ming, I cannot express my gratitude enough for how I’ve learnt and grown all these years (since I was a college student) by reading and contemplating on these articles you wrote.

    By learnt and grown, I mean not only in photography, but also in way of thinking, personal aspirations, and philosophy on multiple subjects in life.

    Truly sad to see you leave this site. But I hope we will see you and your articles elsewhere in any other form maybe. Best wishes for your future adventures, in business and life!

  32. Margaret Cheng says:

    Ming, I have always considered you to be the photographer’s photographer, and feel lucky to have been able to learn from you both from your website and the San Francisco workshop. Though I have never posted any comments, I have followed and learned — you have a unique ability to distill concepts down to the essentials, and share them in an amazingly articulate way. Thank you.

  33. To your last word, Ming, you have been an inspiration and a consistent source of true thought-provoking material. I have forwarded many of your posts (including this one) to dozens of friends and fellow photographers, and have “printed” PDFs of some of the most profound to read again whether I’m at home or on the road. Thanks so much for all you have shared. We are all much better—psychologically and photographically—for your words and images. Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors. Thanks, again, Ming.

  34. Ming, thanks for the ride, keep shooting, and best of luck to you and yours, I ‘retired’ from the University three years ago, left Osaka-kobe and now live and shoot in the streets of old Pamplona every day. Like you, for me,

  35. Kajendran Siva says:

    Ming, I think you have become a part of my inner-self for which I am ever grateful. Your journey has been my journey of self exploration, identity and improvement – not necessarily just imagery as your teaching are much much more than that. I wish you the very best in your new pursuits and direction. I cannot think that someone with your enormous talent and ability to give selflessly to others can stay away for too long. And look forward for return of Ming.

  36. Casey Bryant says:

    I’ll forever be indebted to your influence on my photography. Your E-mail school was some of the best money I ever spent.

    Thanks for all the inspiration.

    Thanks.

  37. Eric Anderson says:

    Thanks Ming for all your great work (teaching, images, philosophy) on this site over the years. To my eyes, the images in this article are evidence of your inspired decision being spot on. I really appreciate your insights regarding your decision and your future direction.
    Well done, and well explained sir.

    • Thanks Eric – curating the images for this post was honestly one of the toughest selections I’d done. But in a moment of clarity somewhere it made sense to look forward instead of backwards, and here we are. It’s very much what I’m shooting now, and will continue to experiment on and develop creatively – even if the yield has been embarrassingly low so far!

  38. I’m happy for you, Ming. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s been six years since the SF Masterclass. If I had a time machine, I would go back and register for the rest of them (especially Prague and Cuba). Since that’s not an option, I will rely on your archive of wisdom to inspire me when I need a kick in the tripod. I wish you continued success.

    • Haha, thanks Joe – I remember that one fondly. And yes, Prague and Cuba were highlights, as well as Tokyo…actually, they were all special in their own way. I regret not doing more, but my schedule back then was so tight it wouldn’t have fit in anywhere. No strict need for the tripod these days, think of it as more somebody switching off your IBIS… 😛

  39. Junaid Rahim says:

    It’s been a rollercoaster, one quite a few readers have at some point been part of. And it’s been a pleasure to see the personal growth from when you first started this site. Onwards and upwards and hopefully soon we can toast to life face to face 🙂

  40. Dear Ming,

    Thank you for the great content on this site! It will remain an inspiring resource, and this very much includes posts where you see lower engagement: it’s just harder to shoot off a quick comment on a contemplative post which requires re-reading and thought.

    Perhaps one day you should turn some parts into a book; I mean, you’ve written the text already, it’s just a Herculean curation task…

    Do I understand correctly that you will take the store offline? Or is it just the last chance for the weekly PS videos?

    • Actually, we looked into making it a book on several occasions. But it wasn’t just curation, it was also a lot of rewriting to make the whole thing flow properly. And then a market of approximately seven copies and the need for self-layout and self-publishing, so the whole exercise became rather academic.

      The whole store will go offline too, so – last chance 🙂

  41. It’s always about the next thing. Gathering dust is the same as death. I’m certain that you will continue in ways that will both please and amaze you. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself so bravely.

    • Creative people always feel the inner need – maybe something stronger than that – to create; if we can’t, there’s a deeply uncomfortable anxiety that starts to set in. But conversely, when you’re in an environment that allows for said creativity…then it also lands up spilling over and compounding in other areas or mediums, and can be positively liberating. It took a while to appreciate this, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

  42. Ming,

    Thank you for all that you have brought to the community. I am grateful for the chance to meet and become great friends. I remain to be an amateur exactly because “I’ve always said that the very best position to be in as a photographer is an amateur: a person who engages in the activity for the love of it, without the constraints of shooting to a client’s expectation”. Not that I am good at photography, but I enjoy the process and enjoy learning from others. And I have learnt a great deal from you.

    I like Nikon but I will keep my Olympus.

    • Derrick, I will forever be grateful for the support and opportunities you gave me in the early days of my career (and continue to do so) – it has always been a pleasure to shoot for you because of the creative freedom. And I’m of course more than happy to keep doing so, if you’ll have me back, if my passport ever works again, and even if we have to argue about Sony and Android… 🙂

  43. Jos Martens says:

    Ming you go out with a bang ! set of light painting photographs. The loss is ours, we are losing a widely respected teacher of honest wisdom. Between black and white is x levels of gray, let your future be as colorful as you wish. Thank you profoundly .All the best, so long

  44. Romano GIannetti says:

    Thank you very much for all those years of insightful and solid content. I will miss your blog. Ad majora!

  45. Thank you for sharing your journey thus far, Ming. Your blog has always been a wonderful breath of fresh air on the internet where there is so much written yet so little worthwhile reading. I have been entertained and edified and I will miss the excitement of discovering a new post to read or new and interesting images to consider, and my amazement at your remarkable patience in responding to fatuous comments with courtesy and patience. As a long time photographer, watch-lover and avid fan of design of all sorts, I expect nothing less than true greatness from you in due course, as and when your life gives you the opportunity to apply your greater experience and more focus to fewer creative outlets. When you are justly famous and remembered for something else entirely, I look forward to being able to say,”I used to read Ming Thein’s photography blog”, and being looked at blankly. Wherever your journey may lead you, I wish you all the best and trust you will enjoy every step of the way. Thanks again. Au revoir. Bear.

    • Haha, thanks – and no pressure, of course…I’m pretty sure you can quote me with a blank stare in return already, no need to wait. The watches seem to be gaining traction though, got one of those golden finger things last year and I and one of my cofounders are on the panel this year… 🙂

      • No pressure at all, Ming! I forgot to say that I definitely intend to buy one of your watches but you are presently in the savings queue behind the Leica M10R…. so it will have to wait a while. Bear.

  46. Stephen Abbott says:

    Dear Ming,

    Thank you for the most glorious photography site on the internet, one of the few sites overall to live on year after year in my RSS readers.

    Your farewell post is bittersweet, for I will miss your writing and photographs but appreciate and admire your reasons and thinking. Good luck with the change and new directions and new surprises, and thank you for all you’ve contributed to this corner of the world.

    • Thank you! As another commenter noted, better to go out on a high than try and stretch things on for longer with compromised quality…

  47. Reading your photography-articles and attending your E-mail School of Photography was time spent very well in my life.
    Thank you for all your hard work and effort to teach us in the broadest sense of meaning!🙏

  48. René François Désamoré says:

    I did not expect to become an orphan so soon

  49. So much going on in 2020 … I wish you all the best and thank you for all your work on this amazing website.

  50. Merle Hall says:

    Bravo for recognizing the importance of being with family. They grow up and are gone too fast, believe me. I’ll miss your writing and thoughtfulness. Thank you!

    • I have to say the last five years has flown, but I do wish she would mature a bit faster…waking up to screaming and tantrums is getting old fast.

  51. Well-played Sir, well-played. Best photo writing on the internet with best consitent quality images to match. That uncommon mix of erudite and completely to-the-point on output.

  52. I’ll miss your perspectives and your photo essays. But I do understand how one can find that he simply has nothing new to say or show. Best wishes to you in whatever’s next in your life!

  53. Kirk Tuck says:

    From the beginning to the end…well played.

  54. Much appreciations heartfelt…pretty sure i have bèn following you for at least 10 years msybe more.. sometimes way over my head yet i have allows loved and been grateful for your gifts…deep thank you Trees

    • I’ve been around for at least that long on Flickr, but this site definitely started Feb 2012 – but I agree, it’s felt a lot longer! 🙂

  55. Alastair Bruce says:

    I have really appreciated this site and your thoughts over the years. Thank you. Look after yourself. And have fun.

  56. Can’t say I’m surprised but it’s still sad to see you retire the site. There are very few places where one could find the quality of discussion you provided. The best of luck to you. And frankly, I won’t be surprised, i.e., I remain hopeful, to see a return of Ming the Photographer.

  57. This is the only place I come back to see new content…and I didnt read YET all your old articles…maybe it could be the base for a book, who knows. Deep thoughts, witten in good english, beautiful photographs: this site is a jem.
    Thank you for the inspiration.
    Looking forward to seeing your new projects.
    Raoul

    • Funny you should mention that…we’ve actually made several attempts to curate it into one, but the amount of rewriting required to make it all congruous (not to mention having to select only 10% of the content, and even then making it a very thick book) would effectively mean starting again from scratch – not something I have time for at the moment unfortunately…

  58. This is a bittersweet post for me to read because you helped me restart my photography so many years ago as well as making it what it is today, and I owe you an unpayable debt of gratitude for that. The doors and opportunities opened as well as the pleasure photography has brought to my life has been immeasurable. So thank you one last time!

    At the same time, congratulations and good luck on the next exciting chapter of your life! I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next.

    • Andre, no debt required but gratitude much appreciated. Bringing joy to others through the work is more than payment enough. See you in SF the next time we can travel again…

  59. “Can not repeat” is a big statement repeated in my head as a designer too! Thanks Ming and just to make sure that you have to enjoy whatever that you are doing! I remind myself everyday 🙂  I still remembered that I was working one mid-night a few years ago when you first released the 17.01, I was fastening the design and it was different from anyone else out there at that time and I was lucky to be the first person to order the first one of the blue version 🙂 I don’t know you in person but I kind of feel that we will have a good chat if we meet one day 🙂

    All the best!
    Paul

    • Thank you for the support, Paul – literally, watch number one! I hope you’re still enjoying it. 17.01 felt like a huge leap at the time, but looking back on it now – it also feels like we’ve left that so far behind in the last three years we’re now on a different planet. It was the beginning in the way the first posts, exhibitions, videos and workshops were the beginning on the site. The interesting thing about product design is due to the lead times, you’re always at least one cycle ahead of what’s being produced now – for example we just started releasing the second generation design language watches, but I’ve already finished the third generation and am starting on defining the fourth – for 2025/6 release. It’s exhilarating and challenging in ways that are hard to describe…

  60. Curtis Hight says:

    Reading your post brought to mind a statement by a public servant as he closed one door to allow him to walk through others: “To serve another person is an honor. To serve a great people has been a great honor. To help another person is rewarding. To help many thousands of people has been immeasurably rewarding.”

    This blog may enter dormancy, but the life you’ve brought to all of us will continue in a kind of eternal spring!

    Thank you!

  61. Kitty Murray says:

    I can’t recall when I found your site, but I was immediately compelled to read everything you wrote. Your content is interesting, thought-provoking, philosophical and in a league of its own.

    Every Sunday night, sort of late, I would hear the “ding” and immediately read the new post. I appreciated every word and will miss it tremendously.

    I hope you have the best of times moving forward. Your watches are beautiful. Congratulations on the accolades.

    Thank you so much.

    Kitty

  62. Ming, Just a note of congratulations and admiration for all you accomplished. I’m in a better position than most to appreciate the amount of work that went into your blog—and it was prodigious. I know that some of us harbor “professional jealousy” for putative rivals in the space, but I’ve seldom felt that way about anyone and never about you. (Except perhaps I’ve envied your energy level! I wish I could do the work of three, much less six.) On the contrary I’ve always admired your thoroughness, hard work, visual sensitivity, and your highly articulate and fluent writing ability. I know none of us need to worry about your future in the slightest, as ongoing success surely awaits you. All the same, I tip my hat to you and wish you the very best—not only in your future endeavors but in all spheres—health, contentment, family life, renown, prosperity, and for your further forays and ventures along your artistic path. –Mike Johnston (of the fuddy-duddy old Online Photographer blog, which will turn 15 at the end of November.)

    • Thank you, Mike – I remember TOP as being one of the sites I held (and still hold and read regularly) in high regard for the well-thought content and your ability to keep it going so long. You were established before I started and will likely continue long after, and I‘d be happy with even half of your consistency (I guess I just about made that stick). I’ve always found life too short for professional jealousy. Annoyance, perhaps, but it was always more profitable to move on and put that energy into raising one’s own bar. It just now feels to make like it’s time to take my own advice and follow my own path if I’m to raise that bar even further…

      • Mike Johnston says:

        I do understand, Ming–I’ve actually tried several times to make the transition to book-writing and haven’t succeeded yet, although I’m having fun with my latest try. But then, at 63, I’m at least looking toward declining, not rising, in life, so it’s not as crucial to me to climb the next mountain. (Although as I like to joke, “my retirement plan is to keep working.”) You will be missed (I still miss Rob Galbraith and, of course, Michael Reichmann), but that doesn’t mean moving on isn’t the right thing to do. Godspeed.

        • Actually, I understand where you’re coming from there…the number of times I’ve tried to turn this site into a book and realized it would effectively be a complete rewrite of hundreds of articles, followed by self-layout and self-publishing for an audience of perhaps eight, maybe nine… 😛

          My retirement plan is not much better than yours: keep working on something else! I doubt anybody can truly afford to retire these days…

  63. Paul Jeyaraj says:

    Farah introduced to me about you i think, as we took your lessons at KL Bird Park 🙂, since then i have taken your amazing workshops in the streets of Melacca to Hanoi, and own most of your video lessons, best wishes to you and your family, if you ever swing by the Rockies in Canada, please plan to visit us

    • Thanks Paul – yes, that was in the early, early days – didn’t realize you were still reading, but thank you for the support and invitation!

  64. I only recently started following your site. Seems I’m always late to the party! I’m sad to hear that you’re closing up shop, so to speak. I get it though. Recently, I started fresh on my website – trashed everything – including years of blog posts. I’m sporadically writing a bit on Medium to get some ramblings out of my head. TL;DR is the cruelest thing someone can say to something that you’ve poured your heart into writing, isn’t it? Wishing you the best as you start a new chapter.

    • It is, and isn’t – I always look at who’s saying TL;DR, too. Their opinion might not be valid or we may really need to be better writers. Either way – always a chance to be better. I still have much archive material, so you can always go back in time if you need to stretch the content out longer 🙂

  65. Thank you sir for allowing us to be on this journey with you. I know that I have developed into a better photographer because of your kindness to share your success, failures and knowledge. Best to you and your future.

  66. Thanks for all the great memories and your impactful teachings! I’m sure the next wave for you and your family is just off over the horizon and will be here before you know it!

    Best,
    Scott

  67. Dear Ming, from time to time over a number of years I have looked into your blogs and learned a lot from it. Emotion is the door to reason. You have shown that time and again. I thank you for giving me insights and knowledge and wish you the very best with your family.

  68. Ming…Others have well-covered the many gifts you have provided to photographers on your site. I learned much from your essays and your pictures; it really has been a thoughtful journey to be with you. Must admit I will miss the further adventures of the “little one”! Thanks again. Frank in Eugene, OR.

  69. Thank you, Ming, for eight thoughtful years. I think we each individually reach points where we need to move on to the next thing. Wise people recognize the need and act in a way that keeps life interesting and the learning growing. Best wishes to you and your family for whatever is next for you.

  70. James Kunetka says:

    The late, great British actor Laurence Olivier was once asked what advice he had for young actors. He replied, “always leave the stage while the audience is still clapping.” You are the leaving this stage and we are standing and clapping. Thank you for the performance.

  71. MICHAEL GENT says:

    Ming, Thank you for showing and teaching through what I hope is an everlasting medium.

  72. Thank you for some great learning and inspirational moments- best wishes in your “retirement”

  73. Hi Ming, I wanted to also convey my sincere appreciation for this incredible resource you have created over the years.

    It’s been such a journey and I remember the early days of this site when you were posting daily which is when I got into photography. There was the London workshop and although these days I just mainly take opportunistic shots on my iPhone I still remember the 4 key things.

    It has been really inspiring to see how things have evolved and developed for you over the years. All the best with your journey ahead!

    PS: Reading between the lines, I am hazarding a guess that your “retirement” camera is the Hasselblad 907X? Enjoy!

    • Thank you! The principles of composition always remain regardless of the medium: it seems you’ve taken that on well 🙂

      It isn’t a 907X, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want one badly (and may well add one at some point).

  74. Through the years, and through this site, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a uniquely inquisitive, almost scholarly take on photography, as well as the beautifully fresh imagery that resulted from that process. For some reason, the resulting esthetic and mood resonate with me, and to this day help guide me in my own exploration of the craft. I’ve bought and enjoyed a decent number of your videos, including most of the Weekly Workflow series, so I’ll definitely stop by the teaching store to purchase a couple more.

    It’s wonderful that you’ve decided to keep the site active, so I can continu to steer people towards it. For anyone seriously interested in photography, it’s a great inspiration and resource, both for the articles themselves and the discussions in the comments section. I keep coming back to it myself again and again … New posts will be missed, but in the end, if being true to yourself means that it’s time to wrap things up and (still let people) cherish the output, then that’s what you need to do.

    I’ll conclude by wishing you all the best with your endeavours, both professionally and personally, and with the role photography plays in your life. A big thank you for the insights, the guidance, and the beauty that you’ve brought to the table !

    Be well !

  75. Thank you. I could blather on, but it would prove pointless and inept.

  76. Robin Wong says:

    Ah so I guess it finally happened, this topic came up a few times during our conversations. You are right, being a photographer, you can’t turn off the constantly seeing, framing and seeking light. It just happens whether we consciously want to or not.
    Thanks for bringing me on board, it was really fun writing here, and I hope the audience enjoyed it too. If I did not commit to being an Olympus Ambassador, I would have continued, but we don’t want all articles from me to be too Olympus focused. I hope the audience sees that.
    A lot of people are going to miss your writing and images (myself included). There is no one else like you, Ming Thein!
    Let’s catch up over coffee one of these days!

    • All good things must come to an end, or evolve into their next form. I think if I was a TV series I’d have done really well surviving for eight seasons 🙂

      Thank you for all of your contributions here – it’s brought another point of view in a way that I couldn’t have done myself, and for that I’ll always be thankful. I can only hope the future masters of Olympus see your value and keep you on!

      • First of all, I would like to thank you for providing so much thoughtful commentary about photography, design, architecture, the creative process, and many other things besides. Your architectural and documentary photography has been inspiring, not least because I feel that you seek to document the kinds of things that I find myself noticing, admiring and clumsily attempting to document in my own pictures.

        It has always been a treat to check your site and to see a new article, and I admire your motivation to communicate your thoughts and your work, particularly as my own motivation to document my own activities (in a largely different space) has been flagging in recent times (and not just in this most recent crisis). The reason why I reply to this specific thread amongst all the comments here is that it allows me to indirectly reply to Robin and to let him know that, for me, his blog is also a pleasure to read and to view: inspiring, educating and delighting in different but no less valid ways.

        I doubt that I will follow you on Instagram for various reasons that feel inappropriate to articulate on this occasion, but I hope to see the successful outcomes of your many endeavours surface in other venues. And, of course, I will be looking forward to seeing you join Robin for shutter therapy some time in the future!

        • Thanks Paul! I’ve always tried to have more than a superficial understanding of my subject in order to present it better; I’m glad some of that has come through over the years. IG seeds to FB automatically, if you prefer that. But I can completely understand why one might want to avoid it entirely. I’ve yet to find a better single image presentation platform, unfortunately – something that allows presentation of a high resolution image, with focus on the image, without all the usual advertising crap, without heavy or messy back end work. You can’t force flickr to display single images, and Squarespace is messy to upload and curate as it treats one block of images as a whole asset instead of allowing scrolling. Maybe that is the next evolution here…

  77. Come back one day, please….

  78. Peter Wright says:

    Best of luck and thanks for sharing all that you did. Incidentally, the images in this post are wonderful. They evoke the spirit of your older street work with the ZF 28mm. Namaste.

  79. Márcio Kabke Pinheiro says:

    If I say everthing on my mind now, will be longer than the post. Will try to curate the words – since, as you always said, curation is essential.

    This was a unique site in the internet’s photographic landscape. Because was always about PHOTOGRAPHY – how to think about the photographic process, how the tools are the the meanings to the end (not the objective or the most important point), and that the end is the image. And that the image is a representation of how we see the world, with all our emotions / interpretations / opinions attached. It was a inspiring, challenging, focused admirable place.

    As an additional bonus, you are an admirable writer – especially for one which English is not your native language, as my case – that could be noted in these malformed lines. Your writing is inspirational too.

    I’ve once thought about entering the professional photo market too – but never had the talent and the guts to do it. And having a two year old in the house brought a sense of avoiding financially risks that totally killed the idea (with some other dreams too. But our little one is adorable and brought some experiences that you can’t get otherwise; I think it was a fair trade). And will all the extra work and COVID, never made so few pictures in my (short) love for photos and little videos – hence, in some level, I completely understand you position. These are sad and hard times, we need to focus on the essential nowadays.

    Wishing well for your future, Ming – albeit you already proved that this is kind of unnecessary; you’ve shown that have one of the most difficult things to obtain as a human being: the power to really guide your life. You are the kind of person that probably will be successful in any venture that you choose to pursue – not only because of talent an intelligence, but for carefully choose what you could really do.

    Again – curation.

    Will miss you writing here. Best of wishes, MIng. Was a pleasure.

    • Thank you, Marcio – you are exactly on point. The site has always been about photography, i.e. the pursuit of making images – and all of the things required to get there. That’s a very wide ranging span of topics from philosophy to physiology to hardware to practice and technicalities, and in a lot of ways mirrored my own thought process as I sought to better understand how to communicate exactly what I wanted to say in an image. I feel that I’ve more than got that toolkit now, and it’s time to go out and use it. 🙂

  80. It’s nice to have the strength and the courage to constantly reinvent oneself. I’m very grateful both to have you as a role model and for what you’ve done.

    Best of luck in your future personal and professional endeavours 🙂

  81. I remember very well the first time I came across this site. Since that time it’s never been less than interesting, and often been far more than that. I mean it as a high compliment when I say that the comments section itself was one of the most valuable things – people who recognise quality writing and constructive discussion tend to gravitate together. It is good to hear that you intend to keep the site up at least for a while.

    I’ve learned a lot from the site over the years. Interestingly, that’s despite the fact that my shooting style is really quite different from yours. Quality is quality, whatever the style!

    Thank you, and I hope your next venture brings you great success and (probably more importantly) satisfaction and fulfilment.

    • Absolutely: the quality fo the discussion here has always been one of the things that has made me most proud of the little community that’s gathered here, especially given the state of a lot of photography forums elsewhere. I think it stems not from agreeing on everything, but everybody having an open enough mind to appreciate another point of view. 🙂

  82. Whilst I confess that I have never always really got what you were trying to say, I did get enough to make me think critically about what I shoot and why I shoot.

    Over the years in addition to subscribing to your blog, I learnt from your PS Workflow series, enjoyed your T1 / H1 / H2 videos, and your MT x FF Ultimate Photographers’ Daybag made for an excellent gift.

    For all of that and more: thanks for sharing, thanks for putting all the effort it, and thanks for helping me figure out my own path in photography.

    Whilst the saying goes: “all good things come to an end” I wish you and your family well and bon voyage on the next chapter of your remarkable journey.

  83. Pierre Lagarde says:

    Sad. Understood, but still sad for us readers.
    Thanks so much for all your thoughts and wonderful images thru the years. Made me really improve a lot on vision and understanding (more than just) photography. I bet you made many of your faithful followers better persons all the way.
    This sadly can’t be said of many internet sources nowadays.
    Keep up and wish you the best for your future business, Ming.

    • My pleasure. It’s been heartening to be able to help people appreciate the world around them more, even if only in a small way. 🙂

  84. Paul Levy-Adophy says:

    Farewell my friend. Sad to see you go but………as some sociologists say, society/people develop through a process of “continuity & change”, and to contine to be who you are and to be true to yourself you need change.

    Thanks for the journey (which for me ended shortly after we met in London, for reasons I am sure you recall (reasons by the way, which are working out quite well now)).

    Hopefully we wont lose touch and every now and then I will somehow get to some of your new distinctive imagery.

    May God bless you in all that you do going forward. 🙏🏾

    Warmest regards

    Paul

    • Not gone, just moving on. Still on IG @mingthein in a more stream of consciousness form, other media (product design) and I think in some ways more creative than I’ve been in a long time. So it’s not a bad thing 🙂

      Glad to hear everything worked out well for you!

  85. Aditya Santoso says:

    I was lucky to find your website right at the point where I wanted to pick up photography as a hobby more seriously. Your educated opinion and no-nonsense approach to articulating both your creative and technical philosophy have definitely influenced me deeply for the past 6 years or so.

    Your constant update to the site will be missed. But I suspect that will free you up both creatively and in terms of energy management to go back to shooting just for yourself.

    • Glad to have been of help. If you’ve only seen the past six years, there are another two and a half in the archives for you to enjoy 🙂

  86. This is, (was), the best photo website. Written by the thinking photographer for the thinking photographer.
    I have recently quit writing magazine articles after almost 16 years and almost 600 pieces, so I know what you mean when you just run out of things to say.
    Good luck and good health to you and yours.

    • Thanks Harry. I feel we are perhaps an endangered species in the modern age of fast consumption, but now I’m thinking perhaps we’ve just gone underground…

  87. Entre ombre et lumière, reflets pour une création simple.
    Bravo !!!

  88. Kai OYang says:

    Thanks for being a good teacher, Ming. I’ve learnt a lot.
    Much appreciated!

  89. Hi Ming, Both sad and heartened to read this post. Sad because we’ll no longer see your incisive and no-nonsense views on photography but heartened that you are boldly making the next step. For any of us to evolve and continue a creative journey we need to know when it’s time to move on, accept that we, the world (or both) have changed and jettison our past to make room for the new. Thank you for all you have done on here (I particularly enjoyed your most recent post on creativity) and good luck with your next venture.

    • Thanks Peter. I’m not entirely sure what the new form of creativity takes yet, but something is definitely crystallizing. I’ve always found that to make a step change in creativity you really do need to disconnect from your existing environment; I guess it’s a consequence of being forced to take on a different perspective.

  90. Alex Carnes says:

    Well, all good things must have an end I suppose, but I can’t think of very many other photography blogs I’ll bother to read now you’ve shut up shop. They’re mostly very silly and you’ll be missed. I feel rather lonely all of a sudden!

    I thought you seemed to be losing interest somewhat at least two years ago, however; perhaps a bit of burn-out with trying to do too much? I’m not sure how many other people could maintain your quality standards with that kind of workload! Do you drink a lot of coffee?! 😉

    Anyway, good luck to you, and I hope your photos will still find their way into the public domain somewhere. I presume you’ll add stuff to your Flickr account from time to time? Take care,

    Alex 🍻

    • I’ve had a good run. And I’m pretty sure if I’d continued, I’d have become boring or repetitive or gone off on a rather weird tangent. The site remains online for the foreseeable future, and I’ll continue posting to IG @mingthein on a more stream-of-consciousness basis.

      Two years ago was peak stress for me – Hasselblad, commercial, the site, teaching, and the fragile early days of the watch company – I think coffee was probably intravenous at that point! Thankfully it’s returned to more sane levels now…

  91. Been a reader for a bit and while my area is in commercial/portraits, I’ve always loved learning from others who are in a different field altogether — brings new and unique perspectives. Plus, I’ve always liked seeing your work throughout your articles. Thanks for your writing and this reminder to shoot for yourself as well. Cheers from South San Francisco, CA.

  92. Scott Devitte says:

    I skimmed the article first just viewing the photos, Having spent time with you, I see you displaying the structure of your mind. Brave man. Walk on.

    • And I think in the images you’ll see the structure has changed quite a lot from when I started – and also diverged from what the site had become, in some ways. It’s probably the start of the tipping point before the next creative wave.

  93. Calvin Yee says:

    Thanks for sharing! C.

  94. Thank you for everything!

  95. Your blog was/is my favorite thing on the internet. While our photography is very different you’ve had a larger impact on me and how I create than anybody else. Your posts and videos have brought me a great deal of joy over the years. I’ll cherish the ultraprint I have even more so now. Best of luck to you!

    • Thank you! It’ll still be here and accessible for the foreseeable future, and I’ll probably still post on IG since it’s better suited to the stream of consciousness format (if not anything taller than 4:3, more’s the pity).

  96. Where to start? A big Thank You, for all you’ve taught and shared. You have created the most extraordinary resource in photography here. I’m glad, for now at least, it will remain up for us to delve and re-delve into.

    ‘ I’ve always said that the very best position to be in as a photographer is an amateur: a person who engages in the activity for the love of it, without the constraints of shooting to a client’s expectation…’. It’s ultimately true in all things we really enjoy. It’s clear though I think that the passion of Ming the watch enthusiast is a big part of the appeal in MING the watch company. You have something to say. At some future point you may not. That’s okay too.

    You touched on the pandemic here too, the constraints it has created and something of the imagined future. Ordinarily we have live frenetic, stimulation-rich lives. And here we are all having stepped off the merrygoround. I wonder how much and in what ways the post-pandemic life will be different and how much it may be the same as what we knew before.

    The present, meanwhile, has its challenges, but it is all we really have, so we adapt. Good for you bringing this enormous chapter to a close. Ironically, I predict that as an amateur now you will find your next creative wave before too long, while not looking for it.

    • It’s been my pleasure. Everything I’ve published here, I’ve done because I believe it and wanted to – probably to the frustration of those demanding the latest Sony Mark XVIII review. It’s made me think about my own understanding and point of view, and that’s been an important part of the growth process. Part of me has run out of things to say; part of me believes I’ve said enough that those listening are more than ready to make up their own minds; part of me believes it’s time to make my own journey independently again. The pandemic has not so much changed my point of view as introduced some relativity; if you are restricted in what you can do, then it makes no sense to continue things that are nearly impossible (traveling to make content, for example) and creates an opportunity to reassess your priorities. None of these are bad things; change has to be seen as an opportunity for something else better to come.

  97. Jay Swartzfeger says:

    I’m heartsick and yet so happy at the same time, Ming. Your thoughtful, no-nonsense passion will continue to be an inspiration for so many of us. Your work here often turned into a treadmill by the demands and expectations of faceless visitors. It will feel great stepping off and breathing, just being Ming. And I can’t think of anything better for us to wish for you.

    Thank you so much.

    • Thanks Jay. It will probably be fresh air, but at the moment – it’s been part of ‘me’ for so long it’s taking a moment longer to adjust than I expected. I suppose this is a good thing in many ways…

  98. jordanschooler says:

    I’m very grateful to have gotten to know you through your writings, and for all the superb content you’ve provided here. Your pursuit of excellence is truly admirable (even if it can be a curse). I’m also really looking forward to the arrival of my first nice watch, the H41.

Trackbacks

  1. […] About the author: Ming Thein is a writer and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Thein’s work and writing on his popular website, Flickr, and Facebook. This article was originally published on Thein’s website. […]

  2. […] About the author: Ming Thein is a writer and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Thein’s work and writing on his popular website, Flickr, and Facebook. This article was originally published on Thein’s website. […]

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