Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ming Thein on Street

This is probably worth your time to read: The evolution of street photography.

He gets an incredible amount of stuff wrong, and the piece is clearly a self serving 'no, street photography is whatever I want it to be' piece. He's got this whole thesis about how "People want street to be, X, Y, and Z" which is true as far as it goes. What he gets wrong there is that the list X, Y, and Z is extremely fluid. And there's tons of other stuff that's pretty out of left field. So what. "Street Photography" either means something specific that basically nobody does these days, or it means nothing. Your choice.

The thing worth noticing is this: he's actually got his thinking cap screwed on quite tightly. He's got some ideas. Just because they're self-serving ideas doesn't mean they're bad. In fact they're pretty good ones.

Also, he knows what a decisive moment is. Kind of slips that in there.

His pictures are still pretty awful but I can see his idea in them, and I saw it before he told me what the idea was. Note my post on Three Cases in which I remark that Thein's Prague photos are... well, universal is certainly a polite way to say it, and no less true for being polite. What I think he's missing is anything particularly interesting to say. The pictures are universal, but do they meaningfully encapsulate The Idea of Man? I'm not feeling that, yet. Maybe he'll get there.

Am I impressed that Mr. Thein is, like pretty much every single other internet-famous photographer out there, attempting to stretch the meaning of the phrase "street photography" wide enough to wrap himself in it? Nope.

I am impressed that he's actually thinking, though.

Go read it. You'll probably find something you can take away from it.

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