Man with face mask and billboard, shot with flash on RICOH GR II. Kyoto, 2017.
Man with face mask and billboard, shot with flash on RICOH GR II. Kyoto, 2017.

Dear friend,

I propose this new school of thought called “NEO STREET PHOTOGRAPHY”— “NEO” meaning “new.”

Contact sheet. Kyoto man mask.

Anti dogmatic street photography

Nexus 6P. Kyoto, 2017. Bald man head, shot from a high angle. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Nexus 6P. Kyoto, 2017. Bald man head, shot from a high angle. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

When I started street photography at age 18 in 2006, there were all these arbitrary “rules” in street photography, for example:

  1. Your photos must be candid, and you cannot ask for permission.
  2. A closeup “street portrait” of someone is not a street photograph.

We are all disciples of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Kyoto selfie. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Kyoto selfie. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

And here are some other “general” rules of photography that was laid down by Henri Cartier-Bresson

  1. Thou shalt not crop.
  2. Thou shalt not use a wide-angle lens (anything wider than a 35mm lens)
  3. Thou shalt not shoot in color (only legitimate pictures are black and white).
  4. Thou shalt not “disturb” the scene.
  5. Thou shalt shoot street photography with a compact and light 35mm camera, aka, Leica.

Anyways, HCB didn’t say all of that in those words, but I think that is what he meant.

Don’t listen to photo tyrants.

Girl laughing with blue sunglasss. Kyoto, 2017.
Girl laughing with blue sunglasss. Kyoto, 2017.

The problem is that a lot of photographers are tyrannical. Meaning, they are kind of like dictators.

The definition of a photography tyrant:

They expect everyone else to shoot like they do, and see their way of photography as the only ”right” way to shoot.

You are different. Rejoice in your uniqueness.

Contact sheet. Girl laughing with blue sunglasss. Kyoto, 2017.

The problem: we are all different, unique, and idiosyncratic people and photographers. Therefore, to follow the rules of another photographer arbitrarily is kind of dumb.

For example, I am very into diet and fitness. The pros told me to drink lots of milk to build muscle, as it is a “super food”. I listened to them, but got a lot of gas. Because I’m Asian, and lactose intolerant. Many white people are not. These white body builders made the mistake… thinking that all people could tolerate lactose, like they did.

Selfie in Kyoto with Necus 6P and HDR+. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Selfie in Kyoto with Necus 6P and HDR+. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The same problem is in photography and art. How can we expect, and demand that others shoot and make pictures like us?

Photography tolerance

Kyoto, 2017. Shot from high angle, looking down on phone. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Kyoto, 2017. Shot from high angle, looking down on phone. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My idea:

Have your own strong opinion of how you like to shoot street photography. Make rules for yourself, and stick to them. Or bend them when you want. But never force others to shoot the way you do.

This is good, because you can be very stubborn about how you like to make pictures and art, yet you allow everyone else to shoot photography however they want to.

Therefore, you dictate your own style of photography, yet you are open-minded, and you are TOLERANT of how others like to shoot.

Follow Yourself.

Superman. The Mission in SF, 2015. Ricoh GR II
Superman. The Mission in SF, 2015. Ricoh GR II

So friend, be open-minded with how others shoot, and mostly… ignore other photographers. Just pick and choose things you like from the masters of photography, but don’t become slaves to them.

Be strong, and have fun.
ERIC

ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE / ERIC KIM FORUM


STREET PHOTOGRAPHY 101

Tokyo, 2012

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Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

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