Photography is Mental Therapy

What is the purpose of art and photography? My idea: to create optimism, hope, excitement, and positivity for the viewer, and for society as a whole.

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Callisto cat abstract by ERIC KIM

“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the business- man as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” – Matisse

The dance, Matisse remix by ERIC KIM

Life-affirming art

Uji, Kyoto, 2017

We all know all the shitty stuff happening in the world, and the pain and suffering in the world.

Our duty as photographers and artists:

Make art that affirms the joy of life and living.

Cindy abstract in bed in marseille, 2017

I love looking at my old work

When I look at my own photos, my new judge whether my pictures are good or not:

Do my pictures put a smile or a smirk on my face? Do my pictures excite, or inspire me?

I’ve been looking at some of my past pictures in Tokyo and Kyoto, and I don’t think too much whether they are “good” photos or not, in terms of what I think my viewers will think. Rather, I choose my pictures quickly and swiftly —I only choose pictures that I personally like.

Cindy with hands on face. Red, Kyoto 2017

I’m so glad I deleted my Instagram

Cindy with hand on chin. Red. Kyoto, 2017

The problem with social media, Facebook, and Instagram is that we care too much about what our followers think. This is why I deleted my Instagram: I was getting too distracted by what I thought others thought about my pictures, rather than thinking what I thought of my own photos.

The best artist is the one who impresses him or herself.

Why I love photography

Walking woman. Kyoto, 2017

For me, I love photography because:

  1. Photography makes me happy while I’m in the process of making photos.
  2. Photography makes me happy when I’m looking at my old photos.
  3. Photography makes me happy when I share this passion and enthusiasm with others.

What is true joy in photography?

Cindy behind red curtain. Kyoto, 2017

Therefore, I think true joy in photography is,

  1. The joy of MAKING, or CREATING new pictures.
  2. The joy of enjoying the photos you already shot (the importance of reviewing your old work).
  3. The joy of sharing your photos with others, and the joy of sharing your passion with others.

Photography and art must be social

My friend John Hall. Kyoto, 2017

To clarify, I want to encourage you to share your work with others. Photography and all art is social — artwork wouldn’t be valuable unless you had society, other humans, to enjoy your art with.

Kyoto Eric Kim Selfie, 2017

But the thing is — you must FIRST make art and photos that please you. Then, only share your photos that first have given you pleasure. This will prevent you from making photos that only please your audience — and don’t please yourself.

The importance of appreciating your past photos

Zen aesthetics. Kyoto, 2017

The lifeblood of a photographer and an artist is to make new photos. But, you must also review your old work, and find joy and pleasure in it. This way, you will always stay motivated: feeling joy in your past work, but also still having the hunger to make new photos.

Leading Lines, Cindy in Kyoto, 2017

If you didn’t feel any joy in your past photos, what impetus would you have in making and attempting new photos?

Love your life!


Ultimately, make photos and art because it is mental therapy for yourself.

Woman and dots. Kyoto, 2017

Photography allows you to challenge yourself — artistically and creatively. Photography allows you to re-live your happy past memories. Photography helps you express yourself, and share that expression with others. Photography gives us hope, optimism, and a joy for living.

Umbrella and flash in color. Kyoto, 2017. Ricoh GR II and flash, shot through clear umbrella.

Street photography, especially, makes is more philanthropic — more loving towards people. We learn xenophilia — love towards strangers and the rest of society.

Cindy in our Airbnb apartment bathtub. Kyoto, 2017.

Smile— photography is an affirmation of life, the joy in your life, and proof that living is a blessing.



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