Cindy in pink, abstracted. Made with iPad and Procreate app.
Cindy in pink, abstracted. Made with iPad and Procreate app.

Before I go out and shoot pictures, I need to get into the zone.


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1. Think colors

I like to inspire myself before shooting to think about colors.

For example, to increase my ‘visual acuity’ or sensitivity towards colors, I look at lots of colorful images. And when I shoot, I only focus on one color at a time.

Like this picture of all pink/magenta of Cindy:

Cindy pink. Cindy project.

Or just the color blue:

Cindy in blue jumper

Or Cindy made into an abstract cubist picture:

Cubist Cindy.

To warm up, look at colorful pictures. Look at your own most colorful pictures, study the simple color work of Piet Mondrian, the vibrant pictures of Andy Warhol or Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring.

PIET MONDRIAN x ERIC KIM
PIET MONDRIAN x ERIC KIM

Or for photographers, study William Eggleston, Alex Webb, Martin Parr.

Cindy chroma rainbow colors.

To learn more, study Color Theory For Photographers.

2. Shoot pictures in your living room

Lamp in living room. Shot on iPad.
Lamp in living room. Shot on iPad.

To train your visual eye, just photograph stuff in your living room with your couch, lamp, and make a nice picture. Then even trace it and draw it to see all the shapes and forms.

Red, Yellow, Blue living room abstract by ERIC KIM
Red, Yellow, Blue living room abstract by ERIC KIM

Anything can be interesting, if you look at it closely enough.

Ceiling corner of Kyoto Airbnb.
Ceiling corner of Kyoto Airbnb.

Photograph the ceiling. Photograph towels hanging around. Photograph your partner at home.

Brown towel hanging in living room. Airbnb of Kyoto
Brown towel hanging in living room. Airbnb of Kyoto
Cindy color. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy color with a flash in Kyoto airbnb, 2017

Take pictures looking out of your apartment, from your window:

Looking outside of Airbnb window, Kyoto 2017
Looking outside of Airbnb window, Kyoto 2017

Even when you’re leaving the house or apartment, always wear your camera around your neck, or keep it on hand. You can photograph your loved ones leaving the house, which makes dynamic images:

Cindy leaving Airbnb. With flash, Kyoto 2017
Cindy leaving Airbnb. With flash, Kyoto 2017

Even ordinary things, like the food you’re making:

Baking a potato cutlet inside oven. Airbnb Kyoto, 2017
Baking a potato cutlet inside oven. Airbnb Kyoto, 2017

Document your own life, like your workspace and laptop:

Laptop computer workspace. Kyoto, 2017
Laptop computer workspace. Kyoto, 2017
Laptop charging. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Laptop charging. Uji, Kyoto 2017

There’s a ton of stuff you can photograph at home. So if you’re stuck indoors all day, this is a good way to inspire yourself, and warmup before you go out and shoot.

If you need inspiration at home, buy CREATIVE EVERY DAY.

3. Watch great cinema

Boy lying in bed of flowers in movie, Seven Samurai.
Boy lying in bed of flowers in movie, Seven Samurai by Kurosawa
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Boy in bed of flowers
Final image: KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Boy in bed of flowers. Diagonal composition , golden triangle.

I love great compositions in cinema. Whenever I watch a movie I will take screenshots of scenes or compositions or frames I like.

Akira Kurosawa is my favorite film director of all time. If you’re new to him, watch Seven Samurai and “Ran”.

Kurosawa, Seven Samurai
Kurosawa x Kim
Why did Kurosawa use a telephoto, and why are some subjects standing, others sitting?
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
Kurosawa
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
Kurosawa Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
Kurosawa Seven Samurai
Kurosawa Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x KIM / Seven Samurai

Another personal favorite, the Japanese animated film: Akira:

Akira movie Dutch angle composition.
Leading lines in Akira.
Side shot from Akira movie.
Abstracted color palette from Akira.

Some of my other favorite stills from the movie:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography171 copy-color-combinations copy-side-by-side
Akira still, left, Color Theory on right.

Frame in a frame.
Neo Tokyo reflected

4. Sketch pictures

Cindy in blue Yukata. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy in blue Yukata. Uji, Kyoto 2017

Trace, use your iPad, use your phone, a piece of paper, whatever. Just keep sketching, to think visually:

Sketch of Cindy in yukata.
Piet Mondrian red lighthouse by ERIC KIM
Muscles sketch.
A red “cloud” against a mostly “cool” colored background. Piet Mondrian.
PIET MONDRIAN x ERIC KIM
PIET MONDRIAN x ERIC KIM
Cindy and hand sketch. Low angle.
Sketch on iPad Pro and Procreate App
Sketch and abstract forms.
Culture by Eric Kim
CULTURE REMIX by ERIC KIM x MIGOS

To learn how to sketch and draw, buy CREATIVE EVERYDAY: Mobile Edition.

5. Think composition

To think like a photographer, think composition.

Here are some composition guides made by ANNETTE KIM (annettekimart@gmail.com) :

Rule of Thirds x Annette Kim
Rule of Thirds x Annette Kim
Golden Triangle x Annette Kim
GOLDEN TRIANGLE composition guide: A good reminder to not just shoot the boring “rule of thirds”— better to tilt your camera.
Fibonacci Spiral x Annette Kim
Fibonacci Spiral x Annette Kim

Some of my favorite compositions:

Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION
Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION
Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM
Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM
DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM
DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM. Made with iPad Pro and Procreate app.
Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Made with iPad Pro and Procreate app.Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Woman and door. Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Eric Kim photography Bauhaus Piet Mondrian
Walking lady Bauhaus by ANNETTE KIM

Study more: How to visually analyze your photography compositions

Conclusion

Cindy with goggles, virtual reality.

Always think pictures, images, and stay inspired.

BE CREATIVE EVERY DAY,
ERIC

Be Creative Every Day, Any Where

No more excuses. Unleash your inner-artist with CREATIVE EVERY DAY: Mobile Edition.


PHOTOGRAPHY 101

Seoul, 2009

Dear friend,

If you’re new to photography, start here:

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Color Photography 101

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Photography Equipment »

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Motivation »

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Post-Processing

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How to Create a Body of Work

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Technical Photography Settings

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The Masters of Photography

Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

Classics never die: