Practical tips on how to become a more creative photographer.

1. Cross pollinate your interests

Kurosawa x ERIC KIM
Kurosawa x ERIC KIM

You’re not just a photographer. You’re probably also interested in other forms of art, like theater, dance, sculpture, painting, architecture, or even computer code.

Cross pollinate your interests.

For example, I’ve been studying cinematography (Akira Kurosawa is my favorite director)— and figuring out how to make better compositions in my photography, by adding layers, triangle compositions and depth.

Kurosawa Rashomon triangle composition
Kurosawa Rashomon triangle composition
Abstracted. Kurosawa Rashomon triangle composition
Abstracted. Kurosawa Rashomon triangle composition

Learn composition from Rashomon from Kurosawa

If you want to make better portraits, study the portrait paintings from the Renaissance. Study Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, and observe how their subjects position their bodies. Where does the subject look? Is the eye of the subject centered? What direction is their shoulders? Do they tilt their heads?

Rashomon composition
Rashomon composition
Rashomon composition Abstract
Rashomon composition Abstract

Combine all your interests, and use that to find a novel approach in your photography.

2. Shoot like a child

Scary ERIC KIM. Shot by a 3 year old kid named Danny. Saigon, 2017
Scary ERIC KIM. Shot by a 3 year old kid named Danny. Saigon, 2017

Children are the most creative, because they have no rules, boundaries, or dogma which holds them back. They treat art like playing.

Danny and teeth. Saigon, 2017
Danny and teeth. Saigon, 2017

To be more creative in your photography, throw out any “rules” you might have learned over the years. Treat photography like playing, and shoot like a child.

Danny Kid with teeth. Saigon, 2017
Kid with teeth. Saigon, 2017

3. Shoot from weird angles

Teeth nyc contact sheet.
Teeth nyc contact sheet.

Tilt your camera (Dutch angle) and shoot from unusual angles and perspectives.

Korean veteran. American flag. NYC.
Korean War veteran. NYC, 2017. Low angle.
Street portrait. Woman with chain necklace. NYC, 2017
Street portrait. Woman with chain necklace. NYC, 2017

Pretend like you were an ant — shoot with your camera on the ground.

Nyc, 2015. Teeth, supreme store.
Nyc, 2015. Teeth, supreme store.

Pretend like you’re an eagle, soaring high, looking down. Shoot from high perspectives looking down.

Grace building. NYC, 2017
Grace building. NYC, 2017
Skyscrapers. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z
On top of a skyscraper, looking down. High Perspective, looking down. NYC, 2017

4. Add depth to your photos

Depth New York street photo, 2015
Depth New York street photo, 2015

Add a figure in the foreground, middle ground, and background. Shoot at f8-f16, and focus on whatever is furthest away in the background.

eric kim the americans depth downtown la portra 400 film leica mp 35mm
Downtown LA, 2014 (shot on film Leica, 35mm, at f/8, ISO 400 on Kodak Portra 400, with 1/500th shutter speed)

More depth will tell more of a visual story in your photos, and be more interesting for the viewer to look at.

Citizen Kane depth.
Citizen Kane depth.
Citizen Kane depth composition
Citizen Kane depth composition
Love the layers and depth. I ask myself, I wonder what lens he used? Kurosawa, Seven Samurai
Street photography technique of depth: focusing on the parents in the background, with the guests in the foreground. Feels very much like a street photograph.
Street photography technique of depth: focusing on the parents in the background, with the guests in the foreground. Feels very much like a street photograph.

5. Make photos that surprise and excite you

Ricoh GR II, in P MODE. Focus in background, to add more depth. I like the woman’s face out of focus.
Ricoh GR II, in P MODE. Focus in background, to add more depth. I like the woman’s face out of focus.

To be a more creative photographer, the most important person is to impress yourself.

Prague urban landscape. 2017
Prague urban landscape. 2017

Make photos that you like to look at. Experiment shooting with a flash, using slow shutter speeds and using blur, and make out of focus images.

THE MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER
THE MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER

To be a creative photographer is to go against the grain — do things that other photographers aren’t doing.

Rain. Tokyo, 2017
Rain. Tokyo, 2017
Digital waterfall. Tokyo, 2017
Digital waterfall. Tokyo, 2017

Above all, entertain yourself, and enjoy the process of making pictures. The more fun you have in your photographic process, the more joy and fun will also be communicated to your viewer.

Conclusion

Blue tarp. Tokyo, 2017
Blue tarp. Tokyo, 2017

The secret, be creative every day!

Make photos every day. Regardless of where you live, who you are, make photos. Make photos because you must.

To get feedback on your photos, post them to ERIC KIM FORUM.

HAVE FUN :)
ERIC


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