Why I Am Anti-Genre in Photography

Callisto cat abstract by ERIC KIM

If we return to our beginners or child-like mind in photography, when we started off before concepts or rules, there is no such thing as ‘genre’ within photography.

The truth is:

All photography is photography.

We did not differentiate between ‘landscape photography’, ‘portrait photography’, ‘family photography’, ‘snapshot photography’, or ‘street photography‘. We just made photos of whatever interested us, and we had fun with it.

The reason why I am anti-genre in photography is this:

Genres restrict your creativity, and your imagination.

One concept I got from Cindy is on classification. Everyone in society, and ‘knowledge’ in general — wants to classify you. It comes down to state statistics (the word ‘statistics’ comes from the STATE — which wants to monitor and count you). Basically, classification is good for the state and society, because it is able to help us measure and make sense of the world. Therefore, classification is good for institutions, but not good for us as individuals.

Silhouette of Cindy. Prague, 2017 #cindyproject

For a long time, I classified myself as a ‘street photographer’ — which was useful, because street photography was my passion. The problem: I didn’t allow myself to shoot anything that wasn’t street photography. Therefore, I became a tyrant on myself, not allowing myself to shoot random selfies of myself, photos of my food, architecture, shadows, or abstract pictures which interested me.

Man standing at bar. Prague, 2015.

Part of it was also a fear — that if I didn’t take ‘serious’ street photos, I would somehow tarnish my personal brand, or the image I tried to create for myself.

Man with hand on face. Prague, 2017.

As I became more well-known in the street photography world, this became a ‘success trap’. I created a caricature of myself, and others created an image of me. Therefore, I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to shoot playful or random stuff. I came trapped within the genre of ‘street photography’.

Prague, 2015

Now, being inspired by the zen concept of beginner’s mind, and also studying the playful art of Matisse, I am returning again to my child-like naiveté, before I knew genres, concepts, or ‘rules’. I am starting to tap into my child-like mind again, when I was the most creative and innovative. I am so much happier, prolific, and enthusiastic again.

Marseille garden, 2017

No genre photography

TV Antennae. Marseille, 2017

So friend — as a word of encouragement: Don’t trap yourself within a genre. Allow yourself to make photos of whatever you want.

Key and shadow. Marseille, 2017

Also, don’t trap yourself within the genre of ‘photography’. Allow yourself ALL FORMS of art– whether visual art (painting, sculpture, drawing), whether music, theater, dance, poetry, or whatever.

Spiral staircase. Marseille, 2017 #cindyproject

Follow your own child-like sense of curiosity, have fun, and no limits.

Selfie of me and Cindy in Marseille, 2017


Following Cindy, through the red curtain. Marseille, 2017

Pink toilet paper. Marseille, 2017
Artwork by Margot, a kid. Marseille, 2017
Sunset and red curtain shades. Marseille, 2017
Couple and green wall. Marseille street photograph, 2017