10 Tips to Become a More Creative Photographer

Creativity is our lifeblood. Typically when I think about creativity, I think of aberrant thinking, and doing things differently from what is considered traditional.

Some thoughts:

1. Ignorance is good

Something I have discovered is that going to art school, studying art history, etc. might be one of the worst things for your creativity. Why? Honestly a lot of it is so fake; a lot of artists tend to be insecure introverts, and I think that all people seek some sort of supremacy. Therefore, if you are a young insecure artist, or even a more mature insecure artist, you will seek external validation for your art.

Therefore, I think some knowledge of the past is useful, in so far much as it can help expand your thinking. For example, the reason why I really like Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, studying cubism and other forms of abstract art is so interesting because it teaches us:

Art does not need to be photo-realistic to be legitimate.

For example, even people don’t know that Jean Michel Basquiat really knows how to paint, photo realistic paintings. The same thing with Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Matisse, all of them. Also the same goes with other surrealist’s, and abstract painters.

Typically this is how it goes:

  1. The artist will get a traditional painting education
  2. The artist will make really really great photo realistic paintings
  3. The artist will eventually get bored of this and seek some sort of innovation
  4. The artist then figures out a more unorthodox form of visual expression

Even when you think of an artist like Kanye West in the context of art, he started off as a traditional producer, making music and beats for other artists. Then he wanted to get into rapping. And got in. Then he wanted to go to fashion, and then he did. And also if you think about his more innovative albums like 808s & Heartbreak, and also his Yeezus album, Kanye West was at least 20 or 30 years before his time.

2. What is creativity?

I think the best definition of creativity is having the propensity to create. That is, you like to create and make stuff.

Therefore, I think a creative person is somebody who derives joy from creating things. Creating, modifying, customizing, painting, drawing, making photographs, making videos, etc.

Whenever you transfigure something, or the world, you create something new.

3. What gets in our way?

My personal thought is so much of the difficulties behind art is that everyone is trying to put us down.

For example, I can speak from my personal experiences. When I got started in photography, street photography, started traveling the world and meeting all this famous people, etc., at the ripe age of 22, this is what I have discovered:

When other people see you as a young rising star, they feel small compared to you, and they feel less bad about themselves, when they try to put you down.

4. Think different

To become more creative means to think differently. What does it mean to think different?

First, I think there is a moralistic ethical perspective behind things. That is, one is not permitted to think differently, in modern day society. Also, it seems that the modern left-wing liberal bent is becoming more intolerant.

5. Insane audacity

Another thought I have is when it comes to creativity, insane audacity is a good idea.

For example, Who are some of the most creative geniuses we have witnessed on planet earth? Steve Jobs, Jony Ive, Kanye West, Elon Musk, etc.

“Name one genius that ain’t crazy!” – Kanye

I think in order to become a creative genius, you need some sort of level of insane audacity.

“A genius is just a kid with good parents.” – Kanye

What is a genius anyways? I think all kids are geniuses, and are born geniuses. The problem:

Typically, when most kids go through the traditional K-12 education system, their genius like curiosity is beaten out of them.

When I think about Montessori education, it isn’t a perfect system, but, I think that general bias is that they indulge more creativity in their kids.

6. Kids are smarter than you think

Something that I have discovered with Seneca, him only currently being 2 years two months old, he is 1 billion times smarter than I think he is.

And I think this is the secret,

Just talk to your kids as if they were 12 years old.

Kids are so much more capable than we think they are. I think the bias in America, also eastern schools of thought is that kids are not that intelligent. However, I think the geniusness of your child will rise to the occasion. This means:

If you treat your kids like a genius, they will become a genius.


If you treat your kid like a baby, they will remain a baby forever.

This is also age independent. It doesn’t matter if you are two years old, three years old, 35 years old, etc., I think maturity is a mentality thing.

7. Do you even desire creativity?

I think 99.9% of creativity had to deal with courage. That is, having the courage to be different, act different, and approach things differently.

For example, do you have the courage not to have an Instagram?

I think in terms of creativity, the downside is that often when you are more creative, you are actually praised less. I don’t think one should pursue creativity for the sake of being praised. The trap is when you seek to be praised, you’ll actually not to do creative things, you’ll just do the same old boring thing as everyone else, and be praised for that.

For example, in the context of art, kids who could draw or paint more photo realistically are praised more than kids who draw abstract. Yet ironically enough, at the upper echelon of things, like if you think about the end works a Picasso and Matisse, their ultimate works are indeed, childlike. Consider the beautiful sublime simplicity of Matisse and his Turkish blue cut outs of the silhouettes of women. Literally any kid with cardboard paper and scissors could do it. I think the ultimate hybrid of an artist is this:

Have the intelligence of adult, but create like a child.

8. The genesis of creativity?

Something I am personally curious about is where does creativity come from?

My thought is perhaps the genesis of creativity is dissatisfaction with things. The deep desire to change, transfigure, modify things and the world.

For example, let us consider a Steve Jobs, one of the most creative human beings who has ever lived. If you read the Walter Isaacson biography on him, this is what I learned:

The genius of Steve Jobs was that at heart, he was like a child, and ultimately was a creative tyrant.

You cannot bend.

For example, it would have been impossible for Steve Jobs to have started Apple Computer without Steve Wozniak. But ultimately, Steve Wozniak was simply a steppingstone. Why? Steve Wozniak wanted to add ports, and all of this hacker like things to the Apple OS. But Steve Jobs knew that this was not the way. And this is why no one will remember Steve Wozniak, only Steve Jobs.

Even Jony Ive, who is pretty much the design mastermind of most things at Apple. I think the problem of Jony Ive is that she is almost too soft-spoken, too nice, not enough of an asshole like Steve Jobs.

In fact, when someone calls you an asshole, what does that mean?

How dare you talk to me in a non-nice way.

But like Kanye said —

“I’m not mean, I’m just focused!”

Even in Steve Jobs‘s told Jony Ive that in fact, Jony Ive was the dishonest one. When Jony Ive retarded angrily about this, Steve Jobs told him:

“The reason why you’re the bad guy is that you just want everyone to like you. Therefore you don’t tell people what you really think.”

To say what you really think, takes much courage, and also, a healthy dose of being “unethical”, and “immoral”.

Also for myself, and I consider myself a “nice guy“, this is what I have discovered:

I just want everyone to like me.

But the problem is ultimately, I’m starting to think that this is a little bit disingenuous. Why? When you want everyone to like you, you often bend yourself in dishonest ways.

Therefore, my simple thought:

Better to be honest and “bad“, than to be dishonest and be “good”.

9. Why be creative?

I think the ultimate end goal is creativity for the sake of advancing humankind.

There are lots of ways to be creative. For example, a simple one is just to be more creative in your thinking. To think more creatively. To think more aberrantly, to think more unorthodox, and ultimately, to publish share and propagate your thoughts.

Simple ways to do this is on your own blog, your own email newsletter, YouTube, podcast etc.

The best way to build a blog is through bluehost.com and install wordpress.org, for email newsletter I like sendy.co, and for podcast anchor.fm which is now owned by Spotify (search ERIC KIM on Spotify).

10. Creative assignments

I think ultimately, the best way to achieve creativity is through creative restrictions, or creative constraints.

  1. Only shoot macro mode for a whole week
  2. Only shot jpeg for a year
  3. If you shoot with a manual focusing lens, only shoot the minimum focusing distance for a month. For example, if you have a like a rangefinder M camera, pre-focus to .7 meters. LEICA MANUAL // FREE PDF

Upload your best creative photos to arsbeta >

Now what?

  2. Just create something. Use your iPhone, your iPad, the Procreate app. Install Zen brush 2, do calligraphy.
  3. Deleting and getting rid of stuff is also a creative act: maybe even a simple idea is get rid of all the unwarranted clothes in your wardrobe, and just donate it to the local Goodwill.
  4. My friend Stan Hudecki did something good, when he moved houses, he purged all of his camera equipment, and gave it to friends and families and kids in need/people who would use it better than he could. He is now part of the Ricoh mafia, Ricoh GR 3X


Fulfill your creative potential:

Things on my mind

  1. What is the best car? The greatest flex? Maybe a murdered out, all black matte Prius prime. Or a matte pink genesis G 90, with Tonka neon green rims. Or a rolls Royce spectre in Morganite (blush pink)/ customize
  2. The Texas power bar, the Texas power squat bar is totally worth it. I just lifted 895 pounds with it, and I feel great.
  3. Seek the more clever solution: in life, I think my passion is discovering novel solutions to things. Don’t do basic.

Forward the turbo!

If you feel like you even got one creative thought from this, and you have a friend or family man number who will also benefit from it, feel free to forward this as an email to them!




Fortune favors the insanely creative!