5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

by Eric Kim on May 25, 2011

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

"Purple" - Shot in Brighton, UK with my Olympus EP-2

I am pleased to say after 4 jam-packed days of traveling and teaching a street photography workshop in Brighton, UK and Zurich, Switzerland I am back in Los Angeles. I had the trip of a lifetime and met some amazing people, ate some delicious food, and got some great street photographs as well. I also learned a great deal after doing this workshop and about Brighton and Zurich. Read more to see what I learned after teaching my UK and Switzerland street photography workshop!

1. It is all about the people

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

Jason Gritton and Myself enjoying a nice English Ale

Although traveling to a foreign country and seeing new sights, eating new food, and shooting street photography was amazing– it was the people that made this trip truly memorable.

Jason Gritton from Brighton was the first person who contacted me and suggested that I even teach a street photography workshop in the UK. He was the one who took myself and my girlfriend/manager Cindy in and truly treated us like family. Not only that, but he made all the necessary contacts and hooked me up with Garage Studios and the infamous Lomokev. Not only was he one of the cordial hosts who treated me to delicious food (Classic British Fish and Chips, English Ale, and a hearty Full-English) but I could truly feel his love and compassion. Did I forget to mention–he shoots amazing Urbex, street portraits, and street photographs? Also huge thanks to Jason’s girlfriend, Holly Welek, who made Brighton feel like home.

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

I Love Fish and Chips

The street photography workshop participants in Brighton were also incredibly passionate and very willing. Many of them came into the workshop not knowing much about street photography but by the middle of the day– were out shooting strangers like pros. I would love to thank the participants for coming out and giving it their all–which includes Dawn, Jaideep, Nicola, Les, Michael, Peter, Robert, Brett, Heather, John, Jonathan, Warren, Charlotte, Jonathan, Andrew, Claire, David, Tiffany, Carsten, Greg, Mark, and Christine. It was a wonderful pleasure and I hope that you enjoyed the workshop as much as I had! Also massive thanks to David Gibson for coming out to the workshop and being my guest speaker. It was a huge honor to have you, and equally as fascinating to see your work and hear how you shoot on the streets.

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Brighton Street Photography Workshop Participants after Dinner

Thomas Leuthard is also a friend and fellow street photographer that is particularly close to my heart. He is the one that originally helped fund the majority of my trip to Beirut, Lebanon and was my guest speaker. It is amazing that only about half a year later that we would be teaching another street photography workshop this time in his part of the world– Zurich, Switzerland. And of course–this time I was his guest ;). Regardless, Thomas did all of the heavy lifting in terms of registration, marketing, and all of the logistical details. Thomas: it is always a pleasure to shoot with you, and your generosity is boundless. I am looking forward to traveling the rest of the world with you and doing more workshops in the near future.

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Thomas and I

Having a street photography workshop in Switzerland was also quite interesting as I would say the culture is much more conservative and proper than other places in the world. Many of the participants came in worried about how others would perceive them when shooting street photography, and the possible reactions that strangers would have. However as they all realized, people weren’t quite as scary as they seemed nor threatening. Thank you Kevin, Magdalena, Steven, Sarah, Krisztina, Zoltan, Simon, Anna, Peter, Alessandra, Pascal, Janny, Linda, Andreas, Linda, Rolf, Roland, Barbara, Emanuel, Dimitri, Wesley, Martin, Milo, Jorg, and Tobias for coming out.

Of course how can I write a post without thanking Cindy, my beloved girlfriend and manager. She is the one who encourages me everyday in my street photography, and without her I wouldn’t have made it out to Europe. She helped me with all of the logistical details and ensured I didn’t get lost in a train station somewhere halfway across the world. She also recorded a mini-documentary of the trip, and I am excited to see it.

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Cindy posing in front of garage studios

2. The less stuff you carry, the better

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

Geared up with my Timbuk 2 Commute 2.0 bag, Olympus EP-2, and Ricoh GRII in my pocket (and of course my beloved Nike Shoes)

For this trip I took my Timbuk 2 Commute 2.0 bag which held my 13” Laptop, my Olympus EP-2, and Ricoh GRIII. I left my bulky 5D DSLR at home, and am sure glad that I did. Considering that Cindy had more stuff to bring (video recording equipment) she took my Thinktank Retrospective 30, which carried everything she needed and then some.

For our entire trip all we had were two messenger bags and one rolling luggage. It was wonderful, because the minimalist approach helped us enjoy our travel rather than being bogged down by unnecessary weight and gear.

3. Having more than one camera is a good thing

For my trip, it was wonderful to shoot with both the Olympus EP-2 and Ricoh GRIII.  During the day, I would wear the Olympus EP-2 around my neck (used for my closer shots with the 35mm perspective) and carry the Ricoh GRIII in my pocket (for the wider 28mm perspective). Both tools served different purposes, and it was wonderful to have them both at all times. Not only that, but there were times in which the batteries on one camera would die, which allowed me to always be shooting.

Considering I had my Olympus EP-2 strapped around my neck, I never missed a potential street photograph opportunity. It was my first time traveling with the camera, and I was quite impressed by the autofocus speed (I heard the EP-1 had horrible AF speed) and the image quality. Not only that, but the retro look the camera had helped me keep low-key (and the camera is quite light yet substantial). The 20mm pancake lens offers a great perspective (35mm equivalent), which I am accustomed to on my Canon 5D. Although f/2.8 is a bit slow when compared to other prime lenses, it was never quite an issue (as it’s high ISO capabilities are quite good).

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"Puff" - Shot with my Olympus EP-2 in Zurich, Switzerland

As with the Ricoh GRIII, I have so many wonderful things to say it is ridiculous. The camera is truly versatile with its size and ability to take great street photographs, and it never held me back. I recall traveling with my Canon 5D on my last trip to Beirut, Lebanon and loathing how large, heavy, and cumbersome it was. With the Ricoh GRIII’s snap-focusing capability, I never got any shots out of focus, and having flash is beneficial as well (did some more Bruce-Gildenesque shots). Although the image quality is not quite as good as a DSLR or Micro 4/3rds camera, they still look wonderful and the High-ISO shots look like film grain (something I love). I had so many wonderful things to say about it, I even convinced Thomas Leuthard to buy one.

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

"Opposed" - Shot with my Ricoh GRIII at the World Press Exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland

4. Shooting in different places is different, but very much the same

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

"Magenta" - Shot in Brighton, UK with my Olympus EP-2

It was a great pleasure shooting street photography in Brighton and Zurich. The public perception of street photography is a bit different in both places. Street photography in the UK has been under lots of controversy lately and shooting photos of children is pretty much off-limits. Therefore you may say that there is a bit of “public paranoia” of street photography there. In Switzerland there is not much controversy over street photography, but the country is still quite conservative and has negative thoughts about strangers taking photos in public.

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

"Pipe" - Zurich, Switzerland. Shot with my Olympus EP-2

However all-in-all, I was surprised to see that the reaction from myself shooting in the streets wasn’t much different from home. 95% of the people didn’t notice me, and the other 5% would get annoyed but weren’t belligerent about it. Shooting in Brighton was interesting, as it is a very bohemian and progressive place (people don’t mind you taking their photograph). Shooting in Zurich was also interesting as it is very international crossing road (people may have assumed I was a tourist).

1x1.trans 5 Things I Learned After Teaching My UK and Switzerland Street Photography Workshop

A couple in Zurich, Switzerland. Shot with my Ricoh GRIII

Both places were great for street photography. Although I first suspected Brighton as a boring sea-side town, it was energetic, vibrant, and full of color. If anything, I would say that Brighton has more fascinating characters and people than London. When we shot street photography at the Zurich train station (where Thomas Leuthard does most of his street work), I was taken back by how many people stream in and out of there, as well as the spectrum and variety of people.

5. I couldn’t have done it without the community

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Last group photo in Switzerland

About a week ago I celebrated the official one-year anniversary of my street photography blog. My tiny and humble blog went from being virtually unknown into one of the most popular street photography resources on Google. Who knew that in only a year I would be featured on the Leica blog, become an Invisible Photographer Contributer, have over 4,100 Facebook fans and over 2,400 Twitter followers, and having taught a street photography workshop in Lebanon, the UK, and Switzerland. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

Having studied sociology, I know the true importance of having a vibrant and soulful community– as it is part of what being human is. No one man can survive himself, and success is truly dependent on the help, love, and support of others. I appreciate all the encouragement everyone in this wonderful street photography provide me, and I hope to continue to inspire and give you great resources to have.

Got any more questions about my trip to Brighton and Zurich? Leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to answer all of your questions!

  • Richard

    My understanding is that SOME of the police in England have used the new anti-terrorism law to hassle photographers ..whats your take?

  • CodeMonkey

    Great blog! The workshop looked like a lot of fun. Well done all the way. I will keep looking for a date you are on the east coast.

  • cindyyrellaa

    This is amazing! I can’t believe you already have a GREAT blog post up about this trip. Thanks for the shout outs. I’ll work hard on the video this week and hopefully have it up by next week :)

    all in all, amazing trip, thank you for everything!

  • http://isoterica.tumblr.com/tagged/street Isoterica

    No questions, just come back to Chicago, Eric :) Glad you had a great time during your workshops!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/exi87 Jaap Barnhoorn

    Great post, Eric! I couldn’t have asked for more.
    It looks like you enjoyed yourself there. I love the shots from Jason Gritton, the portraits look great.

    Very cool that you took an E-P2 with you on your trip. The shots look very good and rich in colour. I’m looking forward to the E-P3 which will probably feature an EVF. Combined with Panasonic’s 14mm f2.5, I think it will make a formidable streettog camera.

  • http://benwohere-photo.com Gerald

    Thank’s for this post and many others on your blog. If I had known earlier that you are in Zurich I would have gone there. Love this city and go there whenever i have time..

  • http://www.flickr.com/eero-b1 Eero

    Reading the comment about taking photos of children being off limits makes me sad. People really don’t seem to consider anyone but the few they know as human beings. Everyone else is just a shady monster criminal.
    My cousin and my self have had also our share of this attitude already in small Finland as well. Sad sad state of affairs.

  • http://www.fokkomuller.nl fomu

    Eric, a great blog. Pity I couldn’t join you and Thomas. You both are really my source of inspiration among with Yanidel. If you ever visit The Netherlands I’m looking forward to meet you. You deserve your success, you do a good job!

  • http://web.me.com/jayavant Greg Williamson

    Good post Eric. the EP-2 is certainly interesting. I understand I can use my old OM lenses on it too… could be a good purchase.

    I am curious how you maintain your “invisibility” in those shoes though…

    Big fish and chips fan here too. It’s the food I most missed when I lived in Korea for 5 years, and the food I would request for a last meal.

  • http://www.flickr.com/rogeriosm rogerio salgado-martins

    Great to see you in action with the Olympus E-P2. If you enjoyed it, I highly recommend the electronic viewfinder VF-2. Instead of Jaap’s Lumix 14mm f2.5, I’d go for the Lumix 20mm f. 1.7.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/exi87 Jaap Barnhoorn

      You are right. It seems to be the better performing lens.

  • http://ralphoto.ch Ralph Burkhart

    Kim, thanks a lot again for your workshop here in Zürich!
    Was a great time with you and Cindy (and Thomas, of course).
    How about to post the group photo of all Zürich participants?

  • http://www.dannyst.com Danny St

    Looks like you had a very successful workshop! Congrats, bro… it’s very well deserved. With the rate you’re going, you’ll be touring in more cities in no time ;)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Thanks danny! Hopefully I’ll meet you in Singapore soon :)

  • Anna

    Great blog post! It’s wonderful to see you and cindy had such a great time. Keep doing what you love; i’m so proud :)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Awwwwww thanks so much Anna! <3

  • http://calm7clear.tistory.com John Kim

    Wow, you seem to have a great time in Brighton and Switzerland!
    Congrats on your successful workshop and 1 yr anniversary of his blog!
    Thanks for sharing your precious experience here.
    And glad to see Thomas’ beautiful street shots as well!

  • http://samsulstreetphoto.wordpress.com/ samsul

    congratulations on the success of this workshop, if I can come there:) would be very nice, thank you for all the information and inspiration

  • http://mayank-p.blogspot.com Mayank

    thank you eric for sharing this story and much like your other posts its as honest as it can get. you are doing a great job building a community here and my best wishes for future too.

  • http://www.newlyswissed.com Dimitri

    You were a true inspiration and it feels like we have known each other for a long time! I hope that Cindy and you can make it back to Europe again soon… In the meantime, I will be sure to read your wonderful blog!

  • http://www.facesoflondon.co.uk Marco

    Glad it went so well Erik, such a shame I couldn’t make it down to Brighton when you were there.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      No problem Marco, thanks for the kind comment :)

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