Retain Your Childlike Naïveté

Dear friend,

Do you remember when you first started photography, and how fun and childlike it was?

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I’m a bigass kid

Spiral staircase. Marseille, 2017

I remember when I started photography when I was 18 years old. I had no obstructions. No rules to hold me back. No concepts which held me back, and nobody to tell me what to do, or what not to do.

Artwork by Margot, a kid. Marseille, 2017

I had this childlike naïveté in my photography, which meant that there were only possibilities in my photography and art, and no restrictions. This is when I was the most creative, playful, and had the most fun.

Damn the rules!

Pink toilet paper. Marseille, 2017

However as I got older and more experienced in photography, I tried too hard to be too “serious” in my photography. I no longer had the spirit of play and experimentation. Rather, I only saw these hard rules that I had to follow. This meant that I started to die, and lose my creative spirit. I focused too much on being taken “seriously”, and making photos that others liked — getting more likes on social media, and getting more “acclaim” from others.

Losing my childhood mind

Sunset and red curtain shades. Marseille, 2017

The problem with this path is that I started to lose my zest for photography. Photography became less fun. It became a chore. I needed to go out for X amount of hours, to make a certain picture, then upload it to social media, and had to upload it at the “ideal” time to maximize my likes, favorites, and comments. Photography became this game of crowd-sourcing my self-esteem, rather than the initial naïveté I had in just making pictures for myself.

Why is naïveté a bad thing?

Couple and green wall. Marseille street photograph, 2017

In today’s world, to be naive is seen as bad. If you are naive, you will be taken advantage of. If you are naive, you will not be taken “seriously”. If you are naive, you won’t make a bunch of money and be happy.

Callisto cat abstract by ERIC KIM

But, I have always been naive. I think it is my childlike naïveté which has helped me innovate. Rather than following rules and customs, I have paved my own path. This has helped me challenge social norms, and helped me push myself into new areas and territories.

Black swan abstract by ERIC KIM x Matisse

I have always hated people telling me “no” or reasons why not to do something. To me, true happiness is creative freedom — freedom over what I want to do, make, and for me to not have any gatekeepers stand in my way, or prevent me from doing what I want to do as a photographer and artist.

Return to your childlike mind

Following Cindy, through the red curtain. Marseille, 2017

Society wants you to be generic, and to fit into a perfect mold. It is children who are the most creative and innovative. Yet, as we get older, we become “institutionalized”— these institutions like schools and workplaces tell us how to behave, act, and conform in society.

Triangle composition of these three guys, shown in pink. From what is composition? Article

So my suggestion is — return to your original childlike mind, beginner mind, where there are no rules, concepts, or theories to hold you back. Be naive, and return to your childlike naïveté, and I can guarantee you — you will never run out of motivation, a sense of creativity, and wonder — in your photography, art, and life.


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