Dear friend, to promote my new and exciting course: “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography“, I want to share with you– why should we take it back to basics in our photography, and why is it good to think like a beginner in our photography?
Do you remember what it was like when you first started photography, with no pre-conceived notions, no “rules”, and you just had uninhibited fun? You could just run around and take photos, without worrying about image quality, sensor size, lenses, equipment, or getting a bunch of likes on social media/Instagram.
I feel this state of being a beginner photographer is the most pure. It is also called ‘child’s mind’ in Zen Buddhism; the idea that whenever we start something like a beginner or a child, we are the most creative. This is because we have no inhibitions, we don’t have any fear of being judged negatively by others. We simply do something for the sake of it, because it is fun!
Another concept from Zen Buddhism: if you want to re-spark your passion for photography, ask yourself:
“What was the ‘original intent’ I had when starting photography?”
Meaning, ask yourself: “Why did I first start making photos?”
Did you start making photos because your child was born? Because you simply had fun running around and taking photos? Did you pick up photography because you wanted a creative outlet? Did you start making photos to document/record your personal life memories?
For myself, I started photography because I had a bad memory, and I thought to myself:
“If I can take photos of my everyday life, and moments which are meaningful to me, then I can re-visit and re-live those positive memories, and thus I will feel more happiness and joy in my life.”
This is what caused me to first ask my mom to get a digital camera for my high school graduation present (A Canon Powershot SD600 camera) in 2006.
No rules, no creative restrictions!
When I first was a beginner photographer, I had no “rules” in my mind. I didn’t discriminate any subject-matter; I photographed anything and everything I found interesting.
I photographed my food, myself in the mirror, my outfits, my friends, my family, nice sunsets, flowers, street scenes, and nice landscapes. I never censored myself as a photographer (this was before social media and the ‘like’ button). In 2009 when I started photography, there wasn’t really any good way to share your photos. Thus, most of the photos you shot, you simply kept the photos for yourself. You would transfer your photos from your SD card to your computer, and enjoy your photos for yourself, and for the few photos you did like– you would email them to friends and family, or you would bring your laptop over to their house and show them the photos in-person. Or you could share some of your photos on MySpace (remember that?) It wasn’t until I went to college (winter of 2006) when Facebook introduced ‘Albums’ which allowed you to more easily share photos with your Facebook friends online.
I want to be a beginner photographer for the rest of my life
When I was a beginner photographer, I think this is when I was the most creative, the most pure, and had the most fun. Even though today I am technically a ‘better’ photographer and can make more visually-dynamic photographs, I honestly think I had the most fun when I was starting off. Nowadays, I sometimes feel pressure to have to make ‘good photos’ all the time, and I feel pressured that I can only share good photos.
But as I’m getting more experienced in photography, I’m starting to realize more and more that in order to stay inspired/motivated as a photographer, you must daily tap into that uninhibited beginner’s mind in photography, to let your own inner-child/your own inner-genius come out, thrive, and flourish!
10 Lessons I Learned after Taking it Back to Basics in my Photography
Creating my first online course “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography” was a very humbling experience. It forced me to take it “back to basics” in photography, and to ask myself:
“If I started photography all over again, in 2018, without the knowledge that I now know– what do I wish I could have taught myself? What new approaches would I partake in photography, and what over-hyped stuff in photography would I avoid?”
Some of my personal lessons (which I integrated into the course):
- Don’t worry about trying to shoot everything in fully-manual mode. Making good photos is more important than becoming a camera technical nerd. In the course I recommend photographers to shoot in “P” (program) mode, and to make better photographs by adjusting exposure-compensation (to darken/brighten photos).
- Don’t fuss about image quality, sharpness, lenses, sensor sizes and equipment: A modern-day smartphone/iPhone is more than capable of making great photographs. Paired with great image-editing software/presets (like VSCO on mobile devices, or FREE ERIC KIM LIGHTROOM PRESETS), you can make phenomenal images.
- Applying filters/presets is not “cheating” in photography. That would be like saying that a chef adding salt/pepper to his food is “cheating”. A little bit of extra salt, pepper, and spices will improve an (already) good dish. But if you have a really poor quality cut of meat, no matter how well you season it, you cannot make it taste good. Like the saying goes, “No matter how much you polish a piece of turd, it is still a turd.”
- Rather than using zoom lenses or telephoto lenses, better to use a wide-angle prime (non-zoom) lenses (like 24mm, 28mm, 35mm) to be more creative. Plus, you will save a bunch of money, and your photos will actually be sharper.
- Don’t spend money on camera equipment and gear, instead– invest that money in experiences, such as traveling, photography books, workshops, and coffee shop adventures.
- The purpose of photography isn’t to make the world’s best photos, but to live a more adventurous, fun, and exciting life!
- The best photos are of your everyday life.
- To make better compositions in photography, make your photos both more SIMPLE (simplify your background, and simplify the edges of your frame), as well as make your photos more DYNAMIC (more diagonals in your composition, tilt your camera, and integrate more hand-gestures and movement to your photos).
- Experiment a lot in your photography, but also try to work on your own personal photography projects, and for a short period (for a year or so) try to stay consistent with your aesthetic: stick with one camera and one lens, or stick to only black and white or only color photos.
- You know you’ve made a good photograph if you impress yourself with your own photo. Don’t try to impress other photographers, or you are doomed to be miserable.
ERIC KIM 2007-2011 Photos
To see my beginner photographs, download them below (226 MB .ZIP FILE with JPEG photos):
As a SPECIAL BONUS to the community here, we wanted to present a special early access discounted course AND resources to you at a special price of $99.99.
- Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography Video Course (Retail Value $199) + PDF RESOURCES
- Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to mastering Street Photography (Retail Value $29)
- How to See (Retail Value $19)
- 30 Days to Jumpstart Your Photography (Retail Value $19)
Click here to enroll or enter the promo code “SPECIALBONUS” for the discounted course price and bundled PDF Resources. This special bonus offer is only available for a limited time and expires May 6, 2018.
Note: After enrolling, please download these books before May 6, 2018 in Section 2 Setup (Lecture 5). After this deadline the resources will no longer be available for download.
Excited to have you in the course!
Eric, Cindy, Annette