Small is beautiful: RICOH GR II — my favorite street photography travel camera.

Bigger is worse.


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Why bigger is worse

Blue Mercedes Benz eye. Berlin, 2017
Blue Mercedes Benz eye. Berlin, 2017

I can’t speak for you, but I’ve been brain-washed by the American “Bigger is Better” culture.

For example, when it comes to cars — bigger is better (SUV).

Or, with food — bigger is better (‘Jumbo’ sizes at McDonalds).

Or, with money — bigger is better (the more zeroes in your bank account, the better).


More is less.

Cindy with red scarf. Berlin, 2017 #cindyproject
Cindy with red scarf. Berlin, 2017 #cindyproject

We think that more will bring us more.

For example,

More possessions, more happiness.

More travels, more joy.

More friends, more popularity.

But in reality — more is often less.


Do we really want a bigger bank account?

I know with traveling, the more shit I carry with me, the more miserable I am.

With more money, comes more problems (as Biggie Smalls said, “Mo money, mo problems.”)


Why I prefer small

Flash. Ricoh GR II, popup flash, P mode. Tokyo, 2017
Low perspective composition. Tokyo, 2017

Abstract red cell phone man by eric kim.

In photography, the smaller my camera, the more likely I am to carry it with me, and the more likely I am to shoot pictures.

And for me, the more pictures I make, the happier I am.


Smaller houses

Cindy working on her translation work. Kyoto, 2017.
Cindy working on her translation work. Kyoto, 2017.

When Cindy and I lived in Kyoto for about a month, we lived in a tiny airbnb. But for me, I preferred the smaller size for the apartment. Why? Less needing to move around, and less time wasting trying to access things.

And less movement meant more creative focus.

Cindy color. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy color with a flash in Kyoto airbnb, 2017

Smaller cameras in street photography

CINDY X HENRI WRIST STRAP

I’ve also found,

The smaller your camera, the less intimidating you look when you’re shooting street photography.

And also the smaller your camera, you can get closer to your subjects, and shoot candid pictures of people without them noticing.

Selfie in kyoto. Eric Kim.

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.

Yakiniku grill. Kyoto, 2017
Yakiniku grill. Kyoto, 2017
Umbrella and flash in color. Kyoto, 2017
Umbrella and flash in color. Kyoto, 2017. Ricoh GR II and flash, shot through clear umbrella.
Woman and dots. Kyoto, 2017
Woman and dots. Kyoto, 2017
Walking woman. Kyoto street photograph, 2017
Walking woman. Kyoto street photograph, 2017

Kyoto Silhouette, 2017.
Kyoto Silhouette, 2017.
Kyoto selfie with Cindy. Reflection, 2017
Shot through the reflection of an aluminum espresso machine. Kyoto selfie with Cindy. Reflection, 2017. Orange and Blue.
Cindy journaling by river in Kyoto, 2017.
Cindy journaling by river in Kyoto, 2017.

ERIC KIM SELFIE in broken mirror. Kyoto, 2017.
ERIC KIM SELFIE in broken mirror. Kyoto, 2017.

Why I am anti-DSLR

Kyoto, 2017
Woman standing in front of Zara. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy behind red curtain. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy behind a red curtain, “about to” come into contact with you.
Tokyo suit heart background
Low angle suit. Kyoto, 2017

DSLR’s are great cameras — if you are doing commercial work.

For the streets, stay light and nimble. The smaller you are, the quicker you can move, and the more agile you are in the streets.


Smaller is cheaper

Portrait of Cindy at Traveling Coffee. Kyoto, 2027
Portrait of Cindy at Traveling Coffee. Kyoto, 2017
Kyoto Eric Kim Selfie, 2017
Kyoto Eric Kim Selfie, 2017

Also, usually smaller cameras are usually cheaper. For example, the RICOH GR II is small, compact, and only around $600.

My idea: spend less money on your camera, and more money on experiences. More money on books, not gear. More money to attend workshops, and meet other passionate photographers.

Insecurity

I know in the past, the reason I wanted a bigger camera was because I was insecure about my photography, and I thought that by having a bigger camera, I would feel more ‘pro’ and have other people acknowledge me as being more ‘pro.’

But in reality, the bigger my camera, the more miserable I was.

The bigger my camera, the more strain I had on my neck, and the more pain.

Another example: when I had my first DSLR (Canon Rebel XT, I tried to make it look bigger by adding a zoom lens, a battery grip, and a flash). It was true that when others saw my big camera, they said: “Wow your camera is so pro!” but nowadays, I’m seeking to subtract the superfluous from my photography and life.

Like Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”


ERIC KIM STRAP

ERIC KIM STRAP: JUST SHOOT IT.


HENRI WRIST STRAP

HENRI WRIST STRAP

HENRI WRIST STRAP: Never Miss the Decisive Moment.


How to apply the ‘small is beautiful’ philosophy to your photography and life

Cindy in blue Yukata. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy in blue Yukata. Uji, Kyoto 2017. Low Perspective.
  1. With traveling, travel with a smaller bag.
  2. With your photography, opt to use a smaller camera.
  3. When buying a new car, seek to buy a smaller car.
  4. Keep your expenses small, to enjoy more freedom, flexibility, and profits in your life
  5. Keep your inner-circle small, to enjoy deeper relationships with your close friends and family.
Sunset over Uji, Kyoto 2017
Sunset over Uji, Kyoto 2017

Small, simple, and meaningful — this should be our trifecta in our photography and life.

Keep it simple,
ERIC