This is my first weekly post with this theme and I was unsure about who I I should to talk about, until about 30 seconds ago. I wondered if I should start with the old masters, and work my way forward. Or should I use this post to examine someone I don’t know much about? There are so many great photographers to chose from. Ultimately though, I decided to go with a photographer who has really influenced my own photography over the last few years: street photographer Eric Kim.
I first discovered him almost four years ago after googling street photography. I saw the term ‘street photography’ on LensCulture, and was immediately intrigued. Is that what they called people just going out and taking pictures? And they took pictures of strangers? It sounded awesome and thoroughly out of my comfort zone. But all the images they showed in the street photography category were magical, so I googled the term to learn more. And guess whose site came up first? Yep, Mr. Eric Kim.
I definitely fell in love with his site. He has soooo much content up, it’s insane. I quickly delved into a rabbit hole of articles on his blog on everything from his experiences and tips for street photography, to camera and gear reviews. Whenever I go to his blog, I usually end up spending at least an hour reading his various articles. And I have a few good reasons I keep going back to him.
1. His Content
Like I said, Kim has SO much information on his site. There’s always something new or helpful to check out. He has literally thousands of blog posts on his site, dedicated to photography or philosophy. He is passionate about the idea of ‘open source photography‘. To use his words:
One of my visions about photography is to tear down these walls of discrimination and allow photography to be open to all, regardless of the experience, gear, or interests that somebody may have.
This instantly struck a cord with me. I was adamant about learning as much as I could about photography, but had experience some of the ‘elitism’ Kim refers to in this article. And it was really disheartening.
So to see so much content, and really useful, great content, on his site to learn from was amazing. He was a successful photographer who understood this culture of elitism, and actively tried help those who were eager to learn was super encouraging for me. Which leads into my next reason for being an Eric Kim fan.
2. His Philosophies
I just love the way he thinks, and his approach to photography. One of his lines on his site that came up a lot was “buy books, not gear”, which I think has evolved into “buy experiences, not gear.” Both of these sayings really stuck with me. They seem simple, yet their meaning is powerful.
All the newest photography gear in the world won’t make you a good photographer. But learning from the masters, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, applying creative constraints, those are the things will help you the most. Travel to new places to find new things and new inspirations for your photography. Go to workshops to learn and network with other photographers. There will always be new gear to buy, and it’s all too easy to get sucked into an upgrading gear cycle.
This article makes a good case for simplifying your gear. Eric Kim is a the main reason I only have two digital cameras, two lenses, and a medium format camera. It’s not quite as simplified as his approach, but hey, I’m not perfect. But I agree with his idea that focusing on all the gear can be distracting from the art of making good photos.
My personal approach is to try to make sure I always have a camera with me. My x100F is usually in my purse with an extra battery, just in case. I can also fit all of my cameras and lenses into one camera bag, which is important to me. That way I don’t ever have to worry about leaving anything behind.
3. His Work
I feel like this would go without saying, but I also felt it would be weird to not mention Eric Kim’s work. It is so different than my own personal aesthetic, which I love. There is such a beautiful, haunting feeling to a number of his images, especially his Tokyo series, that I can’t forget. The lighting is so dramatic, there’s so much great contrast it creates a wonderful solemn mood. His compositions are always very interesting and dynamic, with great use of shape, lighting, and lines.
Seeing his work, which is so different from how I would approach things, really inspires me. In fact, his site is my go to place when I am feeling uninspired, because it always helps me get out of my personal rut. It forces me to see things differently, and to think outside of my own photography box.
Honestly, I could go on about Kim for days. But you should just check out his work, his site, and all the wonderful resources he has to offer for yourself.