”I’m always trying to channel those personal emotions into my work. That is very different from a lot of documentary photographers who want to depict the city more objectively. For me it is very personal – it’s about what is inside me. I don’t think about what other people will make of it. I shoot for myself.” – Trent Parke
SHOOT FOR YOURSELF
Photography is a journey of self-exploration and self-discovery. You do not want to just copy another photographer for the rest of your life.
You are a unique individual. The way you see the world is different from anyone else. You photograph with all of your life experiences, perspectives, and personal opinions. Your value is a photographer is determined by your viewpoint– and how you share it with the world.
”Photograph who you are!” – Bruce Gilden
If you are an introvert, shoot like an introvert. If you are an extrovert, shoot like an extrovert. If you love people, photograph people. If you love nature, photograph nature. If you love minimalism, make simple photos. If you love complexity, make layered photographs with lots of subjects.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to shoot photography. There is only “authentic” and “inauthentic.” Shoot who you are.
- Excerpt from LEARN FROM THE MASTERS
“In order to build a career and to be successful, one has to be determined. One has to be ambitious. I much prefer to drink co ee, listen to music and to paint when I feel like it… Maybe I was irresponsible. But part of the pleasure of being alive is that I didn’t take everything as seriously as one should.” – Saul Leiter
Why shoot for yourself?
Why does ERIC KIM make pictures?
I cannot speak for you, but for me — I shoot for myself because when I make photos, I feel more connected with my life experiences, and I feel more connected with my loved ones.
Also in street photography, the camera gives me an excuse to interact with strangers. Street photography gives me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, and talk and engage with strangers I normally wouldn’t. The camera gives me courage. Without a camera, it would seem awkward to talk to a stranger. At least with the camera, your subject might know that you want to photograph them, and therefore they will be more open to interacting with you. Why? As a photographer, you’re probably a socially eccentric and special person. People get that.
Also, I shoot for myself because I want to document my life experiences which are personally meaningful to me. When I’m in a shitty mood, I like to look at my old pictures from the past —like how I photographed my own wedding, and how that was one of the most joyful days of my life.
I’ve always had a bad memory. Photographs help spark my memories, and help me relive my joyful days and experiences.
Judge your own pictures
If you don’t like your own pictures, why do you care what others think?
- In the past, I had pictures I liked, but others hated.
- Also, I’ve had pictures I didn’t really like that much, that others LOVED
Consider, you’re on your deathbed, are you going to feel more joy from the pictures that you loved, or the pictures that others loved?
I think as a photographer, to truly grow — you must learn how to become selfish and self-centered. Why? Otherwise your unique voice will be watered down.
Imagine yourself as an exotic single origin of espresso. Don’t let anyone water down your creative vision (Don’t become an americano)
The more you shoot for yourself, the more you will innovate and pave new creative grounds! Spend less time looking at the work of others, stay self-centered.
Any big innovation in art isn’t understood by the masses. Consider Piet Mondrian, Andy Warhol, Kanye West, JAY Z, Dr. Dre, Basquiat, Picssso, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or any of the greats. They listened to their own unique voice, and were relentless in their vision.
And to be frank, you might spent your whole life pursuing your artistic vision without fail, yet still not achieve fame and accolades while you’re alive (consider Vivian Maier who became famous after she died, or Saul Leiter who only got famous a few years before he died).
The beauty of shooting for yourself: no artistic compromise.
You can be like Vincent Van Gogh, and be considered insane by others. But good old Vincent kept pursuing his own inner vision, and after he died, his work was able to inspire millions, if not billions.
Our duty as photographers and visual artists is to make great art — that not only impresses us, but that will inspire future generations to come. If you think that your own pictures are bigger than you, that is one of the best ways to stay inspired, and stay motivated in yourself.
You are the most important person to impress
So friend, shoot for yourself.
First seek to please yourself, and if you’re persistent and lucky enough, you will also impress others.
For more inspiration, buy a copy of LEARN FROM THE MASTERS >
ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP
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