The Verticality Project

The Verticality project is something that I’ve been working on intermittently for the past year or so. I never intended it to be thematic; I made an image or two that I particularly liked, and then having identified the key traits of these images, subsequently looked out for such opportunities in the course of my other photography:

  • An entirely man-made architectural subject, with heavy emphasis on geometry and form;
  • An abstraction of scale through the removal of general visual cues such as people or natural objects (other than clouds);
  • A perspective from ground level looking up;
  • Flat but directional light to give the images a draughtsman’s quality;
  • A tonally balanced black and white style to remove the emotional cues of color and introduce a cold, rationalistic monolithic-ness;
  • A sense of ‘balanced imbalance’ – a strong lateral balance in the structure in the image, with a dynamic sense of vertical progression brought on by both geometric convergence of perspective and decreasing frequency structure of detail;
  • A square presentation – originally an artefact of shooting the first few images with a Hasselblad, but now a conscious compositional choice because I feel that the square helps with balance;
  • High technical image quality and pan-focal depth of field, suitable for Ultraprinting or large format display.


Verticality I
I: Kuala Lumpur

Verticality II

II, Amsterdam

Verticality III

III, Amsterdam

Verticality IV
IV, Taipei

The results have now grown to the point that I feel they merit a post on their own; this will of course be an ongoing project. I haven’t decided what the final conclusion will be – if there is one – but if there’s enough interest, I’ll offer this as a limited series of Ultraprints at some point in the future. One of the things I like about this series is that it’s very equipment independent – the images leave no visual cues about the cameras used: they are entirely about conveying my idea, and I intend to leave it that way. Interestingly, I tried curating my back catalog to find images that fit; there were almost none. This isn’t surprising given the very specific set of visual objectives I had. One thing I do need to do is keep better track of the sequence names…you’ll find that the captions may not necessarily match the working file names.

Personally, I’m quite pleased with the results; enough so that I’ve started another project called <em>Portal</em> – I’ll probably be showing the fruits of this one in another six months. Enjoy! MT

_8044293 verticality V copy
V, Taipei

6_RX100_DSC0414bw2 vertica copy
VI, Petaling Jaya

A0001160bw verticality VII copy
VII, Tokyo

_G004858 verticality VIII copy
VIII, Kuala Lumpur

_GM1_1000251 verticality IX copy
IX, Penang

_G005215 verticality X
X, Kuala Lumpur

_8A06883 verticality XII copy
XII, Melbourne* (yes, I seem to be missing XI.)

13_G005286 verticality XII copy
XIII, Melbourne

_G005342 verticality XIV copy
XIV, Melbourne

15_G005756 verticality XV copy
XV, Melbourne

_8A15515 verticality XVI copy
XVI, Singapore

017_64Z0956 verticality XV copy
XVII, London

018_64Z0958 verticality XV copy
XVIII, London

019_G007171 verticality XI copy
XIX, London

020_64Z1314 verticality XX copy
XX, London

021_64Z1482 verticality XX copy
XXI, London

022_64Z1531 verticality XX copy
XXII, London

023_64Z1555 verticality XX copy
XXIII, London

024_64Z1569 verticality XX copy
XXIV, London


A few places left for Making Outstanding Images Chicago (September 2014), Masterclass San Francisco (September 2014). Masterclass Venice (November 2014) now open for booking – click here to book or for more info


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

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