Photoessay: Ming Thein

Ming Thein is a clever man. Engineer. Physicist. Horologist. Photographer. Cigar aficionado. Metrosexual. I’ve known him for a more than a year now, and i still find it hard to pin him down. There always seems to be different shade of him i haven’t seen, layers within layers, like a never-ending onion. Constantly evolving, always looking to create something from nothing. A dynamic, modern, educated and talented Malaysian, if there ever was one. 

He recently opened his Leica and Jaeger Le-Coultre exhibition here in Kuala Lumpur to great fanfare, the opening officiated by the Minister of Tourism, Datuk Ng Yen Yen. And today, was kind enough to take some friends and fans on a personally guided tour. His energy and enthusiasm for the subject matter was infectious, and he was happy to share his techniques and methods. Professional hubris? “I don’t mind showing you how i did it, because even if you knew how, you wouldn’t be able to replicate it.” Fair enough, i suppose. And he would be right.

The exhibition, though pared down from the gala opening, was amazing. 18 fantastic photos of watches that most mortals can only dream of owning. It’s a testimony of his art that even so, the 5 of us in attendance, felt just that much closer to the dream, than if we had simply seen the watches in the window display or on the pages of some glossy magazine. I have no doubt, that based on the strength of the images, if any of us had half a million ringgit in our pockets, the Jaeger Le-Coultre showroom would have been our next stop. They were just breathtaking on so many levels, each one able to articulate a particular aspect of the Jaeger brand. 

In many ways, observing Ming during his tour, and how he interacted with us, and more importantly, how he interacted with his art, told us a lot about him. If there was one word i would use, it would be pride. He is genuinely proud of what he has been and is able to do, describing the photos as his “children” when asked which one is his favourite shot. Just like a proud parent, it would be unfair to ask him to name one he liked best. 

Click on the image for the larger version.

The tour group

The tour group, at the start of the exhibition

And this goes here

Explaining the intricacies of watch design

Two faces of sophistication

Which is more complex? The watch or the Man. The answer isn’t so obvious.

Objective subjectivity

Long shadows, longer impressions


Enjoying a rare cigar at the end of the tour. Apt considering his talent is a rare one.