Off topic: Just in case

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That proverbial sink

I was playing equipment tetris* for a job recently – a regular occurrence. It occurred to me that most of the hardware I was packing was ‘just in case’; contingency planning if something happens to go pear shaped or I encountered a situation at the very edges of the envelope. There are of course no excuses for not delivering what the client wants, at least if you intend to keep your clients. This means I basically had two complete Hasselblad medium format kits – including backup lens coverage – a set of filters, double the number of batteries and triple the number of cards, critical backups, etc. Add a spare tripod head and brackets to the mix, plus a day bag to work out of, and you’re soon seriously encumbered. This wasn’t even a job requiring external lighting, which brings the packed weight to somewhere in the 50kg region once you include stands and modifiers. In practice, for that once in a blue moon occurrence, you’re glad when you have it – but the rest of the time, your back is cursing you. The rest of the time, you shoot with one body and the zoom. There’s probably got to be an easier way, right?

*Attempting to fit in various camera bodies, lenses and accessories into the smallest possible volume for that amount of gear, but the largest possible volume that would pass for carry on – my record is 24kg overweight for hand carry, at which point Air France forced me to buy another seat. At full price. In one of the front cabins, because the rear one was full – and with a penalty fee for cancelling the old one. I definitely didn’t want to repeat that.

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Off topic: thoughts on turning 30, or – the trouble with choice

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The barrier: mental, physical, or simply too much confusion?

How many careers will the average 30 year old have by the time they retire – if they can even afford to retire? My guess is anywhere north of five. This is a stark contrast with my parents’ generation, where working with the same company for life wasn’t unheard of – and 20+ year stints were pretty common. A move after anything less than five years was seen as ‘unstable’. When I began my career 14 years ago, that timetable was down to three; these days, a year is just fine. Are we learning faster? Probably not. Are we getting more impatient? Definitely. Tomorrow, I’ll turn 30. I am aware that this is probably a bit younger than most in the audience, if the workshop demographics are anything to go by, but I’m both here and I’m not; having graduated and started work at 16, I’m now on my second career and the vast majority of my friends and peers are in their 40s and 50s – which puts me in a rather unique observatory position (or eternal no-mans’ land, depending on how you look at it). If you’ll permit me the digression – I promise we will talk photography at some point later in the piece – I’d like to share some thoughts.

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Choosing gear: a webinar in collaboration with DearSusan – 3 or 4 June 2016

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Regular readers will have noticed I’ve gone through a year of pain and bleeding cash whilst searching equipment-wise whilst trying to figure out the best creative and professional fit equipment-wise. After a discussion with Pascal Jappy – the founder of DearSusan – first at a Zeiss event last year and then more recently; we came to the conclusion that it might be useful to offer a little guidance for those still navigating the process (which includes Pascal, actually). Choosing the right gear is important for two reasons: you want the most suitable tool for your creative objectives and shooting style, whilst avoiding expensive experimentation and system swaps. The logic is pretty simple: the less you worry about the hardware, the more time you want to shoot and the more time you actually spend doing it – which presumably is the objective of photography for most people.

The nice but confusing thing is of course that we have choices: the same thing isn’t ideal for everybody, and no, I’m not going to say medium format is the only long term answer. :) Pascal and I have come up with a framework to help objectively determine the best setup for your creative and personal needs – and will guide you through it, with live interaction in a webinar format.

There are two available dates for the webinar:

A spot in either session costs US$27. Sessions will last approximately 1-1.5 hours and the number of participants will be limited to allow maximum interaction for everybody.

Please click here to book.

Thanks and see you this week! MT

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And we have a winner!

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The random number bots have spoken, and Mark A. drew the lucky straw. Congratulations, and Izzy Flamm from B&H will be in touch (or should have been already) very soon to send you your gift card. Thanks to everybody for participating! MT

Creator or consumer?

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Entropy is the way of all things

I have a theory: there are only two kinds of people in this world when it comes to content and creative output. Either you are primarily a consumer, or primarily a creator. We also have to take two other parameters into account: quantity and reach; total impact is determined by both – little quantity and widespread reach is probably about the same as high quantity and narrow reach, with high quantity and high reach of course having the greatest net output. A consumer is a person who has little quantity or reach; certainly less than the media they consume. A creator is a person whose output exceeds their input (reflagging and distribution doesn’t count; that’s not creating anything new). Of course, a much simpler way of looking at this is by time: do you spend more time reading and watching, or making/ shooting/ posting/ writing/ sharing?

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Photographic étiquette, part one

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There are some things you must just do, or must not do, as a photographer. Today’s post is to help all of you navigate that minefield…

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4th anniversary sweepstakes at B&H: win a $500 gift card

I’ve got one last bonus today thanks to the folks at B&H: a competition exclusive to readers of my site only. It’s simple: hit the referral link here (which will take you to the main landing page with your origin site logged), or in the sidebar on the right, spend $1000 on anything at all, and be automatically entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a $500 gift card from B&H (see Terms & Conditions for details)”

The competition closes on 1st May. Good luck! MT


Sweepstakes rules apply…

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

Four years, and an anniversary sale (UPDATE: all gone!)

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UPDATE: We’re nearly out of vouchers for the anniversary sale – there are a few more coupons left, so if you would like to take advantage of the birthday sale, now’s the time:) The offer ends once we hit the magic number… All gone now – thank you for your support!

It’s the fourth anniversary of mingthein.com, and I’d like to say a big thank you to my readers and supporters. May we continue for at least another year…

In the interests of the site’s original goal of furthering photographic education – which I think I’ve made inroads into with the 1,150 articles published here – we’re offering a special sale on the core six-vide Making Outstanding Images video series (D: Fundamentals, Ep. 1-5). The normal price for the set is $412; it is now 40% off at $247. Just add the D, E1-5 videos to your cart and use the voucher code 40OFF4YEARS at checkout; there are a small and limited number of vouchers. Proceeds go towards a) educating you photographically; b) keeping the site running and c) making more videos. Please note that this offer is a standalone and not valid with other video bundles.

Thanks for your support! MT

Being a photographer today

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Whoops, that was yesterday. But I don’t think any reader will mind the eye candy.

There is a point to the ‘wrong’ image: it ain’t like it used to be, and if that’s a cliche and somewhat ill-fitting statement given I haven’t been in this game that long, perhaps it’s also a sign of just how fast the market is changing. As I come to the end of my fourth year full time as a photographer and start planning for the fifth, I’ve got to ask myself what’s changed in the last few years and where that fits with my plans (or rather how I’ve got to adapt not to be left behind). What’s a bit frightening is that niches seem to be coming and going both extremely fast and in a way that is almost impossible to predict what works and what doesn’t; luck, as always, plays a massive role in the proceedings.

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Christmas humour 2015: Photographers’ beliefs

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In the tradition of previous years…today’s post takes a break from any serious sort of photography. Merry Christmas, all!

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