Hanoi, 2017

I think the biggest problem we face as photographers is that we don’t put enough soul in our photos.

We know the rules of composition. But we don’t know the rules of emotion.

We know how to use technical settings with our camera. But we don’t know how to interact with people.

We know how to post-process our photos, but we don’t know how to feel our photos.

Does your photo have soul?

Too often we are concerned whether a photo is ‘good’ or not. We often judge a ‘good’ photo by how sharp it is, how much bokeh it has, or how much detail it has. But rarely do we consider whether a photo has ‘soul’ or not.

How to shoot with soul

eric kim street photography -sapa-0006247
Sapa, 2017

To shoot photography with your soul, don’t think. Shoot with your emotions and your heart. That means, whenever you see a scene that compels you in some sort of way — just take a photo of it. Don’t think too much when you’re out shooting.

Also, open up your heart when you’re out making photos. Don’t distract yourself with your phone, or any emotional problems in your mind. Open yourself to your environment. Then, you will find scenes that inspire you.

Empty your mind when you’re shooting. A room is only useful in terms of the empty space inside. A bottle is only useful for the empty space inside. So to find more creativity, empty your mind.

For me, I empty my mind, by walking slowly. I turn off my phone, and don’t listen to music. I observe. I pause, I listen. I eaves-drop on the conversations of others. I look for shapes, forms, and certain hand-gestures (which shows mood, and emotions).

Above all, I try to feel what my subjects feel. Whenever I see someone hunched over, with their hand on their face, with a look of despair— I can instantly emotionally connect with them. I can feel the sorrow in their soul. And I try to capture that.

How do you feel today?

Often shooting with soul means to have a certain emotion in your heart, and go out with that feeling.

Some days, I feel shitty. Then whenever I’m out shooting, I see other people on the streets who look like they’re in a shitty mood. I photograph that feeling and emotion.

Other times, I feel joyful and elated. I then find happier people on the streets (because my reality is colored by my personal emotion). Then I tend to interact with my subjects more, tell jokes, and capture photos of them laughing.

Depth of soul

eric kim street photography mood 11 hanoi
Hanoi, 2017

Find more depth-of-soul in your photos. Do this by shooting with your heart, your emotions, and by trying to connect with others on a deeper level.

Stay true to yourself,
Eric

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