The best photos are in your everyday life.



1. Treat every moment as beautiful

Cindy and me about to eat Indian food. Prague, 2017
Cindy and me about to eat Indian food. Prague, 2017

2. Walk on the streets 25% slower than you normally do

Red, blue, yellow colors. Prague, 2017
Red, blue, yellow colors. Prague, 2017

3. Photograph your loved ones (children, partner, friends)

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

4. Use program (P) mode

Abstract diagonal shot with Ricoh GR II, in P mode. Prague, 2017
Abstract diagonal shot with Ricoh GR II, in P mode. Prague, 2017

Set it and forget it. Don’t worry so much about the “perfect” camera settings. To capture personally-meaningful moments/the ‘decisive moment’ is far more important than getting the perfect settings on your camera.

Use “P” (program) mode, center-point autofocus, ISO 800-1600, and just shoot.

This will allow you to focus more on framing, composition, and capturing the moment.

5. Use a small camera

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

Just use your iPhone, your Android phone, or a small point and shoot camera or a small mirrorless camera.

RICOH GR II x SAIGON SATCHEL
RICOH GR II x SAIGON SATCHEL

This is what I’ve discovered:

The smaller your camera, the more likely you are to carry it with you everywhere you go.

The opposite:

The bigger your camera, the less likely you are to carry it with you everywhere you go.

Therefore, leave the huge DSLR at home. Rather, just shoot with your phone, a Ricoh GR II camera, a Olympus OM camera, a Fuji X100 camera.

NYC, 2017 #cindyproject
NYC, 2017 #cindyproject. Shot on RICOH GR II, tilted.

6. Shoot multiple photos of the same scene

Contact sheet of Cindy. Photographed at dinners. Berkeley, 2015. The best photo at the end.
Contact sheet of Cindy. Photographed at dinners. Berkeley, 2015. The best photo at the end.

When you see something interesting, don’t just shoot 1-2 photos of the scene. Shoot many. If the scene is personally meaningful to you, shoot 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or even 100 photos of the scene.

Shot with a slower shutter speed. You can feel the movement in this picture with the motion blur. Cindy, 2016
Shot with a slower shutter speed. You can feel the movement in this picture with the motion blur. Cindy, 2016

And when you’re done, and you review your pictures, choose your best 1 photo of the scene.

7. Don’t think you must travel to make good photos

Mustang lines abstract. NYC, 2017
Mustang lines abstract. NYC, 2017

Traveling is a good way to find inspiration to make photos. But realize — your best photos are to be shot at home.

My theory,

Shoot your own neighborhood or hometown like you were a tourist.

A lot of us get carried away with the fantasy that we must only travel to find inspiration to shoot. We imagine ourselves like Steve McCurry, making these amazing photos by always being on the road.

Eyes abstract. Prague pavement, 2017
Eyes abstract. Prague pavement, 2017

I’m a digital nomad, and I don’t have a place I really call “home”— I make my living teaching international photography workshops, and I’m always living out of my backpack.

The truth is — even though you’re constantly traveling, it is hard to find inspiration to make photos.

The secret:

Regardless of where you live, always realize there is a beautiful photo opportunity waiting to be made.

American flag. Prague, 2017
American flag. Prague, 2017

As a thought experiment, just consider:

If I were a tourist in my own city, what would I find interesting, weird, or exotic?

8. Shoot in the grocery store

Costco greeter. Michigan, 2014

Whenever I go grocery shopping with Cindy, I always have my camera around my neck or in my hand. I look for photo opportunities in grocery stores, or even at Costco when I’m in the states.

Costco, 2012. Girl in shopping cart.
Costco, 2012. Girl in shopping cart.

Ask for permission to photograph the staff. Shoot interesting scenes, like the free samples table. Photograph the food and packaging. Take candid photos of the other shoppers there.

Head of lettuce, in grocery store. Kyoto, 2017
Head of lettuce, in grocery store. Kyoto, 2017

I like to shoot in grocery stores, because grocery stores show so much of your culture. For example, in America, “bigger is better”— and we have Walmart and other mega grocery stores, compared to the smaller and nimble grocery stores in Europe.

Grocery store. Kyoto, 2017
Grocery store. Kyoto, 2017

Regardless of where you live, you will find your own city and grocery stores as “normal”— but by taking an outsiders perspective, you can find more inspiration to photograph your everyday life.

9. Photograph objects, up close

Air conditioner. Prague, 2017
Air conditioner. Prague, 2017

Everything is interesting, as long as you look closely enough.

Photograph your food, and make sure the background is simple and clean. Use a flash, and use macro close up mode on your camera.

Kiss and Matcha Latte. Prague, 2017
Kiss and Matcha Latte. Prague, 2017

Assignment: only photograph objects in your home. Shoot the curtains, shoot the locks of your doors, photograph the toilet in your bathroom, photograph your coffee cups, and shoot outside of your window looking out.

10. Shoot yourself

Memento Mori ERIC KIM
Memento Mori ERIC KIM selfie.

Honor thy selfie. You’re the best subject to photograph.

Honor thy selfie by ANNETTE KIM
Honor thy selfie by ANNETTE KIM
Eric Kim black background in Kyoto
Eric looking up, black background.

Shoot self portraits of yourself by using the selfie mode on your phone, and try to do it in a creative and artistic way. Tilt your head. Shoot from a low angle looking up. Don’t look into the lens.

Selfie in mirror. Kyoto. 2017
Selfie in mirror. Kyoto. 2017

Or use the front facing camera, and shoot selfies of yourself through the glass, or the mirror. Shoot selfies of yourself by photographing your own shadow.

Selfie in the mirror with RICOH GR II. Saigon, 2017
Selfie in the mirror with RICOH GR II. Saigon, 2017
Selfie in the mirror. Saigon, 2017
Selfie in the mirror. Saigon, 2017
White ERIC KIM FACE. Selfie, Saigon 2017
White ERIC KIM FACE. Selfie, Saigon 2017
ERIC KIM x RICOH GR II x ERIC KIM STRAP
Selfie with Cindy in Saigon hotel with lipstick kiss in mirror. 2017
Cindy Nguyen. CEO of HAPTIC
Kyoto selfie. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Kyoto selfie. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Selfie in Kyoto with Necus 6P and HDR+. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Selfie in Kyoto with Nexus 6P and HDR+. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Selfie with Cindy. Kyoto, 2017
Selfie with Cindy. Kyoto, 2017

Conclusion

eric kim photography - cindy project - film - 35mm - leica mp - kodak- portra - 40049
Selfie with Cindy at the dollar store in Berkeley, 2015

Your everyday life might seem boring, but realize it is beautiful, and precious.

The ultimate zen photographer: finding beauty in the mundane, of your everyday ordinary life.

Never forget to smile, appreciate each day of your life, and keep shooting.

ERIC



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