If you want to become an entrepreneur, to make more money, gain more power over your life, more freedom, more autonomy– you need to become a creator.
I. Continual creation.
Nature is great because she continually creates. She is always creating new forms and life. Yet she is also destroying the old, with death and decay.
To be human or organic is to create. To be “creative” means to create a lot of art, not to just “think” or come up with “ideas”. We must make our ideas manifested into reality, through atoms or digital bits. Essentially, we gotta make more cool shit.
For example, create stuff you would like to see in the world. And like a fire hydrant with the top broken, let your creative fountain stream without limits.
What if you don’t know what to create? For me, I like to create stuff I’d like to personally see, consume, or experience.
For example, I like reading list articles or blog posts. I write that format, because it is easier for me to consume information that way.
I also like homework assignments, to actually make changes in my life. So I include that in my blog posts.
I hate advertising in terms of pop up banners and shit. So I don’t do that.
I don’t like to pay for information or ebooks. So I write dope ebooks, that I find useful and give it all away for free.
Selling Lightroom presets for money seems a bit silly to me. It costs nothing to distribute and reproduce. So I just give away my ERIC KIM Lightroom presets for free.
I hate people blogging about cameras. So I prefer to blog about books instead, and I want to encourage people to BUY BOOKS, NOT GEAR. So Cindy and I sell FILM NOTES, STREET NOTES, and PHOTO JOURNAL to empower photographers and creatives.
II. No complaining.
“Be the change which you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi
It is a waste of energy and time to complain about the world. Rather, let us seek to change it.
As a creator, you can create a new culture. Create a new culture, to overthrow what you consider bullshit.
For example, I think materialism is dumb. I’m trying to change the culture, by adopting a more simple lifestyle for myself, to encourage others to do the same.
I used to hate there were no good articles online on how to shoot street photography. So instead of complaining, I started to write these articles and ebooks. I also tried to make in depth YouTube lectures, that only workshop participants once had access to. Because I believe in free and open source information, as a way to make positive social change in the world to empower.
I hate that most bloggers have no huevos. They don’t speak with confidence, they don’t share their personal opinion, their writing is bland, and they never curse like a real human being. So I try to write with flair, and my soul, and to write how I talk in real life. To be one person, not two faced, like Harvey Dent from Batman.
Create dope shit. Make photos you would like to look at. Design art, products, furniture, music, or images that you would like to consume.
For me, one of my new aspirations is to design cool stuff, and make it affordable for the masses. Kind of how Steve Jobs made most Apple products “mass market” (you can buy iPad for $330, and iPod touch for $200), so we cannot complain about our tools anymore. And you can get a good MacBook Air for $1000.
Elon Musk is a billionaire because he makes and creates stuff that people want. He creates cool electric cars with Tesla, which are eco friendly and sexy and cool. He creates sustainable energy solutions that will help humanity, and also make people feel good about themselves.
III. Empower others.
The best creators are the ones that empower others.
Rick Ross is great, because he empowers people to hustle and get what they want.
Jay Z is great because he shows that you can come from the hood or poverty and become rich.
I like what I do, because I have proven that you can follow your passion, and get rich doing it, sticking to your personal ethics. People thought I was crazy for giving away my books, videos, and information for free. But I knew it was the right thing to do, socially, and was also a good marketing tactic. And if has helped enrich me, and helped me create useful information for others. And I’ve been able to use that money to buy my personal freedom, the freedom of Cindy, my moms freedom, and now working on buying the freedom of my sister Anna.
Ultimately, I think I am “successful” because these blog posts encourage, empower, and inspire photographers to become the best versions of themselves. To not feel shitty because they don’t own an expensive digital Leica, or any expensive camera or tool. To encourage this culture of just shooting on an iPhone or phone, of making do with what you already own, hustling hard, and having fewer excuses.
Of course, I am the biggest hypocrite and contradictory person. But I change my opinion all the time, because I’m seeking the truth– and I always find out I am wrong. Or I need to revise my opinion, because I am growing, learning, and I want to just share what works with me. Because I was once frustrated, and now I’m less frustrated as an artist and photographer.
Of course, everything on this blog is just my opinion and life story. You can ignore everything. But I hope a few ideas can resonate with you, strike soil in your heart, and grow into a beautiful redwood tree.
IV. Stop consuming.
I don’t know how to motivate myself to create. But I know what my distractions are: emails, finances, business, meetings, commuting, blogs, websites, news, text messages, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or anything that distracts from my creation.
We all know that fasting from food is food for your health. But why not fast from consuming information and external stimuli?
I am genuinely convinced that boredom is necessary for creation. When I’m bored, I come up with creative ideas I want to write about, and explore. It is mainly an excuse to relieve my boredom.
The problem is our upcoming generation is being made sedated by iPads, video games, and Netflix. We are passively consuming too much entertainment, instead of being active creators.
V. Create more.
Creators shall inherit the earth. The more you create, the more economic value you create for others. And the more value you create, the more money you will earn. And the more social good you can do, because money is just a tool.
My personal goal is to create like a Lamborghini, 500 miles a hour, with no brakes, driving on the Autobahn. I’ve made a lot of
personal sacrifices, to harness my inner Nietzsche and Kanye– to live in a drunken creative Dionysian world of constant creation.
What has helped me become insanely productive, and to create more is easy. It is about what I don’t do, or what I don’t own.
For example, I don’t own a car. Less stress and distractions on maintenance — more room to create.
No phone. Fewer distractions, so I can focus on creation.
No email. More focus on creation.
No social media. More publishing.
People say I publish too much. But I see myself like a solo New York Times meets Buzzfeed; I consider myself the best living photography blogger alive. And my next goal is to become the best living blogger. I seriously don’t know any blogger who is as productive as me, or who has as much personal courage as I do.
So friend, if you wanna create more– consume less. Whatever distracts you in life, be ruthless and cut that shit out. My dad was all negative vibes and a dark cloud over me, and a cancerous growth. I cut him out of my life, and the tumor has ceased to spread, although the scar still remains.
I don’t eat breakfast or lunch anymore. Less food coma. And I drink a lot of black coffee, which helps the creative juices flow.
I deadlift at the gym, and every week I add 5 pounds to my “1 rep max”– this gives me physical confidence, which leads to mental confidence.
And of course, I think street photography gives you the ultimate confidence and courage in life, to overcome fear of interacting with strangers, and allows you to take more calculated risks in life.
For me, I believe Karl Marx was on the money. Human happiness comes from being connected with the art and products we create. If we have ownership over what we create, we feel happy.
I also believe this philosophy of “flow” by psychologist Mihalay C. When we are in a state of flow or in the “zone”, we are elated, excited, curious, and we lose a sense of time, and lose a sense of self. When I’m in a state of flow, like I am in now writing this on my iPad on the flight from Seoul to Saigon, I feel like I’m never gonna die.
So a simple saying to remember:
To be happier, create and publish more.
Have the confidence to create art. Then have confidence to share it. Easy.
Re-discover your inner-child:
- How to Ignore Your Inner-Critic
- How to Unlock Your Inner-Genius
- Success is Your Only Option
- How to Make Your Photos More Artistic
- Creative Lessons Rick Rubin Can Teach You About Photography
- Why I Love Shooting With an LCD Screen
- How to Shoot Abstract Photography
- How to Be More Spontaneous in Your Photography and Life
- How to Re-Invent Yourself in Photography
- How to Photograph Like a Child
- How to Be a More Imaginative Photographer
- Never Rust
- Limit Your Palette
- Follow Your Intuition
- Have Creative Confidence in Yourself
- How To Find Your Unique Voice in Photography
- Beginner’s Mind
- There is No Wrong Way to Shoot Street Photography
- You Can’t Control the Results, Only Effort
- On Capturing Beauty in the Mundane
- On Searching For the Maximum
- The Beauty of “Creative Constraints”
- How to Stay Curious
- Enjoy the Process
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