The epic guide:
1. Photolosophy Course – Intro Transcript
Hey friends; I am super excited to have you for our course; photolosphy. This starter kit will be your unique opportunity to find more personal meaning in your photography, and to motivate you to think more critically why you take photos; and for whom you shoot photos for, and how to find more purpose in your photography.
Skip around for this course! You can download all the files offline, share it with your friends, and spread the information.
This information will be educational.
Photolosophy: no right or wrong. Its your personal photography philosophy.
Go at your own pace, don’t need to go in chronological order.
Very excited to see what you can do!
2. Photolosophy – What is Photolosophy?
What is photolosophy and why is it important? Photolosophy is a word we made up which means ‘photography philosophy’. The purpose is for you to find more purpose and meaning in your photography and life.
Everything I’m sharing in this course is from my personal experience. I was once stuck in the ‘social media rat-race’ — when I tried to take good photos, and uploaded it on social media to get as many likes as possible. Social media is a fun way to get feedback, but the problem is you get stuck into this treadmill. It becomes about accumulating likes, instead of taking photos which gives you personal meaning and purpose in your life.
So once question to ask yourself:
“If I didn’t have social media, Facebook, or Instagram to share my photos; would I still shoot photos?”
If so, what kind of photos would you shoot, who would you share your photos with, and how could you share your photos? And what ultimate meaning does photography give you?
For myself, I consider myself 90 years on my deathbed, and looking at the last few decades of my photography career. I want to fulfill myself with my photos, because (spoiler alert) we are all going to die! Knowing we are going to die, how can we focus to make photos which are meaningful to us?
I studied sociology in school, and I make photos to give social critique and commentary on society. I find street photography as ‘visual sociology’ — I can use photography to understand others, and better understand myself!
I like to photograph my loved ones, because it reminds me that they’re going to die and I’m going to die. I want to be grateful of my life while im still living. So photography is a meditation on life and death. When you’re alive, show your gratitude to being alive! Make photos which spark joy in your heart, and share photos that can also spark joy into the heart of others!
Also, photography is a meditation on death. Eventually you’re going to die, and the people you photograph will also die.
Use photography as a tool to impress yourself; not others. Let us be like children, to have fun and joy in photography!
1. Street Photography Confidence
Lets talk about social dynamics and street photography and how to build your confidence. Street photography is great because it gives you the opportunity to interact with real humans! In todays world, the norm is to be anti-social. We don’t make eye contact with others, and this is what alienates us, and depresses us.
The more we interact with others we’re interested in, the happier we are!
For myself, I like to talk to strangers, recording my interactions with strangers– so realize that photography can be your passport into the lives of others.
I used to make the mistake of thinking of people as ‘photo objects’. Now I realize that photography is one of the best tools to HUMANIZE people. So rather than seeing them as weird or different, use photography as a tool to bring you closer with them!
With ethics in photography, I like to follow the ‘silver rule of photography’:
“Don’t photograph others, as you don’t want others to photograph you.”
Recognize that everyone has a different code of ethics. Don’t let anyone super-impose their code of ethics unto you, and also don’t super-impose your code of ethics onto others!
Also another tip: if you want to be more comfortable photographing others, be more comfortable being photographed yourself!
Have your loved ones photograph you more! Or practice shooting more selfies of yourself! Be comfortable in your own skin!
If you don’t like being photographed, you will make the (wrong) assumption that others don’t like being photographed as well! This is false, because there are many people out there (like ERIC KIM) who actually like being photographed!
If you take photos of strangers, ask them: “What is your life story?” to better interact and engage with them. Furthermore, offer to also email them the photo! Or show them the LCD screen of the photos you’ve shot them!
As an activity, shoot more self-portraits of yourself!
If you don’t like being photographed by others, ask yourself:
And then reflect and meditate on this question.
“Do you like being photographed? Why or why not?”
2. Street Photolosophy – Beauty in the Mundane
Realize beauty in the mundane is the way you want to photograph. The basic idea is this: recognize that there is beauty all around you. For example, make photos at home!
At home, you can go to your bathroom, you can photograph selfies of yourself in the mirror, you can go to the kitchen, you can photograph yourself.
There is so much beauty all around you regardless of where you are!
You can photograph your own bedroom, your own living room — photograph lovely streams of light!
Even the beautiful thing in street photography; it isn’t about finding weirdness, it is about finding the simple, beautiful, everyday!
The more we can find beauty in everyday life, the more inspired and grateful we will be about being alive!
Tip: When you commute to work, turn off your phone and use that opportunity to make photos! Use your camera to find beauty all around you. Photograph textures, light, and different color combinations.
Look at children, and observe how they see the world with fresh eyes!
3. Street Photolosophy – Create Art for Mental Health
Make photos as a form of visual therapy and art therapy for yourself.
To be happier in life; make more stuff!
I don’t think happiness is a good definition. I think we are trying to spark more joy in our lives. Joy is this exuberant uplifting feeling; a feeling of power and control we have — a feeling we can control our future in life!
We are happiest when we are making things, being challenged, and photography is such a joyful process! We have joy when we are making photos on the streets, walking around, talking to people, and seeing new things!
We also get joy when we look through our photos at home; when we choose which to keep or ditch. We also get fun from editing and sequencing our photos, and processing our photos!
With film photography, I have joy of getting my film processed as well. And the joy of sharing your photos!
Realize photography is a holistic process of finding more joy and happiness in the world!
Photography is a unique opportunity to interact with the ‘real world’. We are happiest when we are actively CREATING!
To be happier in life, make more photos and art, and share more with others!
Don’t limit yourself to photos; make sculptures, paintings, videos, or poetry and other forms of art!
Remember– photography isn’t limited to just your camera. Use your phone to make photos! Go on a street walk or hunt and shoot with your phone. Shoot whatever sparks joy into your heart.
Photography is a way for you to find more joy and meaning in your life!
Make art for your mental wellness; prioritize this!
4. Street Photolosophy – Walking Meditation
Just by walking, it helps clear your mind, relieve stress. I think street photography is walking meditation. Use a small camera, and never expect to make good photos.
When you try really hard to make ‘good photos’; you won’t make good photos! The more you just zen out and enjoy shooting; the more likely you are to make good photos!
Let the photos come to you.
Always have your camera around your neck or wrist, and don’t expect anything; but be perceptive to the world around you.
When on the streets, don’t use headphones, or don’t use your phone. If you shoot with your phone, switch it to airplane mode.
Walk 25% slower than you normally do, and whenever you see something you like, stop and smile, then shoot it! Touch the textures of things you like to photograph and smile. When you shoot street photography, talk and interact with people.
The slower you walk, and feeling the pavement under your feet is a good way to relax. Be less stressed, and be more artistic and creative.
Treat street photography as a walking meditation; and clear your mind.
5. Street Photolosophy – Everything is Editable
Everything is editable!
As a photographer you’re constantly changing, evolving, and a state of flux.
The goal isn’t to make an amazing photography book that will last forever. With digital technology and the internet, you can edit it afterwards!
I’m anti-finality. Im a fan of Willem de Kooning; who said, “I never finish.”
With photo projects, with the internet and digital portfolios — you can constantly add to your projects, and remove and re-sequence the photos! As a photographer, your taste will always change.
Don’t be any type of photographer your entire life. Sometimes you can change your camera, your aesthetic, or equipment! There are so many ways you can change and evolve your working process as a photographer.
Be more active!
Realize as a photographer, we’re happiest when we are active!
When I’m bored at night, I like to look at my own photos on Dropbox. I like to look back at my older photos, and re-live the experiences behind the photos!
This is good because I can re-discover old photos that I recognize are good photos!
Always go out and shoot new photos, and also use time to look at your old photos.
Use your website and blog as a visual diary — blog about your photo experiences, change it up, and don’t worry about perfection.
Remember, you can always delete or re-upload old photos!
Don’t let finality or perfection hold you back.
“Get it 80% good enough, and hit publish.”
Remember, everything is editable!
Personal Photography 101
1. Personal Photolosophy – Intro
What is personal photography?
For me, it is making photos for yourself. In modern society we are told that doing ‘self-centered’ things are evil. I don’t think that is the case. The best type of photos is personal — because the more personal the photos are, the more authentic they are, and the more others can relate to them!
By being more personal and more self-centered or focused, you can end up empowering others more!
With personal photography, photograph your own life and yourself as the main character of your photography.
In personal photography, you empower yourself by using your own subjective view of the world and realizing that is your way of seeing the world. I don’t believe in objectivity in photography. I think all photography is subjective– because you are the lens in which you filter the world. You decide what is signifant, and what isn’t significant!
Regardless of how busy you are, you can make good photos of anything! Think of your whole life as a photo project!
Photograph your commute, photograph your shadow, photograph your kids, and loved ones! Your whole photographic project can be documenting your own life!
Use photography as a tool to find more gratitude in your life!
Use your phone, RICOH GR II camera, Fuji x100, etc — the most important is to use a camera that is as unobtrusive, easy to use as possible.
For my personal photos, I shot a RICOH GR II, just in Program mode, and I use ‘ERIC KIM PRESETS’ when importing my photos into Lightroom.
Reduce the friction; and shoot from your gut. Whenever you see something that resonates with you, just shoot it!
No right or wrong way to shoot personal photography. Just ask yourself:
“Is this personal or not?”
The more authentic and personal your photos, the more your viewers will relate with you, and feel an emotional connection with you and your photos, and be uplifted in a positive way!
2. Personal Photolosophy – Make Photos for Yourself
Make photos to impress and please yourself; instead of pleasing others!
With personal photography, you are the most important person to impress.
The more you make photos that impress yourself and please yourself, the more likely you are to impress or please others.
As a photographer, you’re an innovator. Theres only one of you on the planet. Its very important for you to give your own subjective view of the world and share this with others!
Making photos that impresses yourself is so important because in social media, we always try to impress others. We try to ‘crowd-source’ our self-esteem; contingent on how many likes we get from others.
I used to use the likes I got as a barometer to see how good my photos were; rather than judging my own photos.
I would recommend before sharing your photos, look at your own photo and ask yourself:
“Do I like this photo?”
“If someone else shot this photo, would I still like it?”
Ultimately, theres no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ photos. Only photos which impress you or don’t impress you.
Make photos that you think are good, and make photos that you like to look at!
I like to use Dropbox to look at my old photos!
Getting famous as a photographer is a lot of luck. So imagine yourself 90 years on your deathbed; would you look at your old photos and feel impressed with your own photos? Can you die with a smile on your face?
Make photos that resonate with you; in order that they may resonate with others.
3. Personal Photolosophy – Gratitude
Hey friends; let us talk about personal photography and gratitude.
We must be grateful– grateful for being alive, for having an interest in photography, grateful that we own a camera or a phone, and realizing that we should be grateful for all the amazing digital technologies now that empower us!
Can you imagine in the 1920s, you had ISO 25 film in black and white film, and you couldn’t really share your photos with others!
We should be grateful for the opportunities we have to share our photos online in todays world!
We often feel our camera isn’t good enough. Perhaps if our camera was better, perhaps others would appreciate our photos more?
But, recognize that the whole camera industry wants you to be perpetually dissatisfied with your camera gear.
Recognize this, and then ask yourself: “How can I best use the camera I already own?”
We might not have the best equipment, but how can we still make beautiful photos which bring us joy and happiness in life?
First, recognize your camera is 80% ‘good enough’; and use that as a tool to photograph what you’re grateful for!
Assignment: For an entire day, only photograph what you’re grateful of! Anything that puts a smile on your face.
When you photograph something, you are saying:
“I am grateful you exist.”
Photography helps us recognize what we are grateful for and what we love.
Use photography as a tool to find more gratitude in your life.
Photograph your loved ones while they’re still alive, before they die!
Photograph what you’re grateful for, and upload it to social media with the hashtag: #blessings
If you look at your own photo, and it puts a smile on your face, it is a good photo!
Photography Entrepreneurship Philosophy 101
1. Entrepreneurship Photolosophy – Empowerment
So friends, let us talk about entrepneuership!
What is entrepreneurship, and whats my definition?
For me, if you’re a photographer and you’re sharing your photos online, you’re an entrepreneur.
My definition of entrepreneurship:
“Risk taking, and making a positive change in the world which is beyond yourself.”
You don’t need to make money in entrepreneurship. Rather, consider yourself as an entrepreneur as someone who follows your own voice. I see entrepreneurship as empowerment.
With entrepreneurship you can put a dent in the universe in the words of Steve Jobs. You can change your reality! You can make a positive impact!
A lot of us feel disempowered because we feel, “No matter how hard I try, I cannot make a difference!”
But recognize, you have the power to change the world!
As a photographer, ask yourself:
“How can my photos empower myself and others?”
“Do not water the garden of others if your own garden is parched.” – Publilius Syrus
First empower yourself in photography. Secondly, share with others.
You can never please 100% of others.
“If your photos has the ability to empower at least 1 other human being on planet earth, it is your duty to share your photos and ideas with others!”
Photography entrepreneurship is empowerment! Start your own photography blog. I recommend bluehost.com and installing wordpress.org. use your own website/blog to empower yourself and others!
2. Entrepreneurship Photolosophy – JUST DO IT
JUST DO IT! Realize there is no such thing as failure– only feedback.
Many of us want to put ourselves out there but we are afraid that others might criticize us, or hate on us. Or we are worried of getting trolled or of ‘failure’.
But in photography– you’re not going to starve to death or die!
We still fear starving to death, which holds us back from achieving our personal maximum in life. My personal philosophy is this:
There is no failure, only feedback.
If you work on a photo project and don’t sell any copies; it is just feedback! Maybe others aren’t interested, but thats okay!
Vincent Van Gogh didn’t sell a single painting in his lifetime; but he achieved fame after his death. His work was great; but he was perhaps a bit too early for his time, or he had a marketing problem.
Dedicate your life to what is meaningful to you. You might never achieve external ‘success’; but realize, you are laboring for future generations of humanity as well!
If you’re enthusiastic or interested in something; just do it!
As a photographer, don’t look at your social media numbers. Also disable your stats on your website/blog, to innovate more, and to break the ‘rules’.
Don’t be a slave to page views, follower counts, or likes.
Its your duty as a photographer to never compromise your vision!
As an entrepreneur; its about putting yourself out there, not making money!
Before you pursue a photo project; just shoot it! Don’t ask others for their feedback BEFORE you start a project! You don’t need permission before you start anything in life!
Take a risk, take the power in your hands, and just do it!
3. Entrepreneurship Photolosophy – How Much is Enough
How much is enough?
When you have enough; then what?
My last 10 years — I wanted to travel, become internet famous, have solo exhibitions, etc. I achieved all my dreams, and I actually got a little depressed. I started to ponder, “Whats the next big thing?”
This is the truth:
You only have joy when you’re making new photo projects and innovating as a photographer.
For me, when you have enough to pay rent and feed yourself (and coffee); continue making new art, innovating, and pushing and challenging yourself to make new photos art which please yourself!
I’ve been pushing myself to create new layers in my photos, by studying cinema (like Stanley Kubrick). I’m also shooting video street photography and street scenes; to create visual storytelling in new ways!
I’m never going to starve to death, and I have enough money to retire in Saigon.
What are your goals in photography and life? And if you achieve all your dreams, what will you do for the rest of your life?
Never stop making art; you can’t take money with you when you die!
Nobody regrets not making more money before they die. I think the best is to die with $0 in the bank!
Use your life to create photo projects that empowered others; creating new innovations that helped others think outside the box, and to make a positive impact in the world.
Challenge yourself to think,
“How much is enough in my photography?”
At what point is enough, enough?
What do you really want from photography, and how can you keep shooting until you die at age 100?
Never doubt yourself, and make photos that please yourself. Seek to empower yourself and humanity!
NEVER STOP SHOOTING,