iPad and Procreate — ERIC KIM x SENECA THIEN ANH KIM:




After a lot of thinking and philosophizing, this is what I have gathered:

I think the ultimate privilege is simply to strive to make great photos, become a great photographer, and become an ever greater photographer.


The first thought to think and consider is this:

What does it mean to become a great photographer, and is it even a possible thing to become the “greatest“ photographer?

Being inspired to make photos until you die at the age of 120

OK so let us assume that I could predict with you with 100% certainty that you will live to be 120 years old, in phenomenal health. If that were the case, how can you structure your life in such a way which allows you to stay inspired and motivated to make photos until you die at 122?

First things first, don’t own a home. At worst, just own a condo. A lot of my successful friends, like my friends Don Dillon and Tim Flangan have done this; the upside of owning a condo is that you can just travel, and travel the world, and ultimately you will still have somewhere to keep your stuff, and go back home to. And at least when you’re on the road, you don’t have to worry about maintaining your home or the outside of your house.

Second, structuring your life which allows maximum movement and independence. This means a life in which you spend a good amount of time on the road, traveling, in other foreign places. It could be as simple as wing road trips in America, or more complex like traveling internationally. The world is a big ass place. And this is what gives me great hope.

For example, there are still 1 trillion places that have not yet been to, which I am interested in. I’m interested in going to Lagos Nigeria, Morocco, South America, Eastern Europe, Hungary, etc. And before all of this Ukraine Putin stuff, I was very interested in going to Russia Moscow.

Making great photos

I hate to say it, but certainly there is a hierarchy in terms of great photos compared to not as great photos. What is the differentiating factor?

For myself, when I study the work of Henri Cartier Bresson, and look at his more advanced works, he is really good at the arabesque composition. The squiggly line composition, which adds elegance to his photos.

Also, a Dionysian aesthetic. This means a dark, hard aesthetic. Extremely high contrast black and white, extremely high grain. For example, lately I’ve been shooting on my Lumix G9 camera, after my Ricoh GR 3X broke. I was able to use the in camera JPEG setting of dynamic monochrome, adjusting the contrast to the max, the grain to the max, and I think I have discovered a new aesthetic which I might even prefer over the Ricoh GR 3X in camera high contrast black and white.

In terms of longevity, I believe black and white is more durable than color. Why is this?

First and foremost, we don’t see the world in black-and-white. This alone is the massive differentiating factor between black-and-white photography and color photography.

Secondly, color, color science, digital cameras, sensors, sensor technology is always changing in terms of color. Also JPEG, RAW settings. CMOS vs CCD sensors for color, etc. this alone is a massive headache; and there is also a quadrillion different types of ways to print color, display color, and also view monitors with different color profiles etc. Black and white makes your life 1 trillion times easier.

The path to become a great photographer

How does one become a great photographer?

I think first of all, I think having an over stated ego, over inflated ego, over inflated self-confidence is a virtue and a good thing. First, I think you must have the desire, the audacity, and also the chutzpah to desire to become a great photographer.

I believe the 99.99% issue with modern day life is that it is considered immoral to desire to become great. That somehow, greatness, and striving to become great, is actually considered a vice.

Modern day life says one must be quiet, low-key, and ashamed of oneself. It is considered a vice to self promote, have self confidence in oneself etc.

I say, perhaps the best thing you could teach yourself, and also teach our kids is in fact to gain more self-confidence, to gain more audacity.

Great aesthetics?

In terms of making great photos, my simple thought is that making great photos is all about making photos which are strong, simple, and hard.

For example, some aesthetic thoughts:

  1. Extremely high contrast black-and-white
  2. Simple backgrounds
  3. Some sort of strong character, subject, or happening or mood behind the photo

Making “objectively” great photos?

Something which I believe which is very unorthodox:

Personally speaking, I do believe that it is actually possible to make an objectively great photo.

But the question is, who decides?

First of all, you decide. Then maybe EK or can decide.

Whose opinion matters?

In terms of photography, and your photos, whose opinion truly matters?

For example, do you want everyone to universally call you a great photographer, and bow down before you?

This is what I have discovered after having attended a magnum workshop, meeting Magnum Photographers, etc:

Nobody is happy.

Becoming a happy photographer?

I had a funny idea, if I want to start a gym, I want to call it “happy gym”.

Why? Isn’t the point of going to the gym just be happy, become happier?

Even Joe Gold, the guy who started golds gym said “the point of going to the gym is to have fun!”

I think the same as in photography. Isn’t and shouldn’t the purpose of photography to be happy?

Resources to become a great photographer

  2. BOOKS
  3. MASTERS // How to get started



  2. July 15-16th: SAIGON WORKSHOP (details to be announced)

New directions

  1. iPad is a brick? I insanely love the iPad Pro, but I’m starting to realize it is a brick. Why? I keep hitting the 2 TB family limit, and irregardless of how many times I go back and delete all of my old photos and videos etc., I still keep hitting the max. Perhaps it is a good time to just transition back into Adobe Lightroom or Lightroom classic, and just do it on my laptop, off the cloud.
  2. Testosterone in photography? It is my personal theory that there is a connection between testosterone and photography. Perhaps when we see a beautiful woman, or we want to shoot a street photo, or we want to shoot a street portrait, this boosts and affects and influences our testosterone? As a consequence, perhaps the best thing you could do for your street photography and your photography and life in general is striving to naturally boost your testosterone, consuming more beef, organ meats, and hitting one rep maxes at the gym. 885 pounds atlas lift.
  3. I’m over Tesla? Me and Seneca just checked out the new Tesla model S in ultra red, and it looks great. I think Tesla and Elon really nailed it here; the previous red colors were not vibrant nor bold enough. Now, I think the Tesla model S plaid in ultra red is probably a perfect car. Especially with the all black interior and the new yoke steering wheel; there is literally no flaws I see. Yet once I have discovered perfect, I no longer feel a strong desire or need to own it anymore? Therefore, maybe the most intelligent strategy then is to just buy Tesla stock, or invest in anything Elon Musk does. Maybe I’ll be the first person to own $1 million worth of Tesla stock, yet not actually own a Tesla car myself.


  1. How can you gain critical feedback and constructive feedback to improve your photography? Upload your photos to
  2. I still think there is a very good opportunity to be had when it comes to websites and blogs for your photography. What I am personally curious about is how to design a website which is very conducive to this.








Google Drive Download link

ZIP of JPEG images

Google Drive ZIP FILE


Dropbox Downloads



Why I photographed the birth of my first child >


Street photographs from America– mostly shot on Kodak Portra 400, via Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron on film Leica M6/film Leica MP:

Why Black and White Photography is Better than Color Photography

Simple reasons:

  1. Longevity (monochrome photos will last longer than color)
  2. Simpler (focus on shapes, forms, and tones)
  3. RICOH GR III already makes the best high-contrast JPEG photos (high contrast monochrome). iPhone Pro in Noir also looks fantastic
  4. Simpler is better.

Dark Skies over Tokyo

All black everything:

eric kim street photography hanoi-0003676

I am not the best photographer, but I am a great photographer. How did I do it?



We can all become great photographers

cindy hands flash Ricoh gr ii face covering
Kyoto, 2017 #cindyproject

I became a great photographer because I’m hungry, I’m curious, and I am always learning:

I share my learnings

This is important. You must share what you learn!

selfie ERIC KIM kyoto UJI Ricoh gr ii
Kyoto, UJI 2017

I mastered the masters

I studied all the masters of photography and learned from them. A world-class education.

Even to master Henri Cartier-Bresson.


Why I Don’t Care for Politics

Ars Fotographica



I have spoken. RICOH IS KING. The best camera on the market, at any price-point.

Which RICOH is best?

The newest one.

I have made great photos on RICOH GR II, and I consider it a perfect camera. Some of my best RICOH GR II photos:


Newest Ricoh is currently the GR III. Also a great camera.


I think the best camera for photography is the Ricoh GR II.

First of all; this is just my opinion. Now that we have that out of the way, let us continue:

1. Why I love the Ricoh GR II

cindy project black and white

I’ve been afflicted with GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) for most of my life. I started with a simple canon point and shoot camera (SD 600), and thought I needed to upgrade my camera to make better photos. I bought a Canon Rebel XT (350D), then the internet told me that I ‘had’ to get a full-frame camera to make better photos. After pulling out student loans, I bought a Canon 5D, 35mm f/2, 24mm f/2.8, a Canon 70-200 f/4 L, a Sigma 100mmm macro, and other accessories I thought I ‘needed.’

My passion was street photography, and when I started to study the masters of photography (Henri Cartier-Bresson), I found that he shot with a Leica. I soon became convinced that I needed to buy a Leica if I wanted to conquer my fears in street photography, to feel more ‘inspired’ to go out and make photos, and to better capture the ‘decisive moment.’

One day, I finally got the Leica M9. I thought it would fix all my life’s problems. It didn’t. Rather, it (eventually) started to collect dust on my shelf like any other camera. I then discovered the lie we are all spoon-fed by the internet and camera companies:

“If your photos aren’t good enough; your camera isn’t expensive enough.”

2. The best camera fits in your pocket

cindy project eric kim photography hanoi-0007360

I am convinced the best camera is the one that fits in your front pocket. That can be your smartphone, or a simple point and shoot camera. I prefer the Ricoh GR II because it fits in my front pocket, has a large sensor with great image quality (APS-C sized), and is affordable.

I’ve owned Leica cameras in the past, and the problem with it is that you can’t fit a Leica in your front pocket. And if you have a Leica and a lens, it is actually heavier than it seems. Of course, a DSLR is much heavier.

So the thing I realized for myself: the smaller my camera, the more compact, and the lighter it is– the more likely I am to carry it with me wherever I go, and the more likely I am to make photographs, and the more likely I am to find joy, happiness, and creativity in my life.

3. Set it and forget it

eric kim photography-0008597

Another thing I learned:

Set it and forget it.

I keep my camera in P (program) mode, ISO 1600, center-point autofocus, and shoot in RAW with high-contrast black and white preview. I just point and shoot.

I follow my intuition when I make photographs. I don’t think. I just photograph what looks interesting to me. Afterwards when I go home, and look at my photos in Lightroom, I choose my favorite photos– and decide which to keep and ditch.

4. Bigger and heavier is worse

eric kim street photography hanoi-0005501

The bigger your camera; the less likely you are to always have it with you, and therefore, the fewer photos you will shoot.

When I had the Canon 5D, Canon L zoom lens, I felt like a ‘pro.’ Yet it was so heavy, and I hated carrying it with me. Even when I backpacked through Europe in college (with the Canon 5D, 35mm f/2, and 24mm f/2.8) I wish I left the camera at home. The heavy camera made my trip less pleasant. It made me less mobile. I became a slave to the camera, because my focus was to make good photos — rather than to have a good experience.

5. Flash

eric kim street photography hanoi-0003676
Shot with a flash during the day

A big thing I love about the Ricoh GR II: the built-in flash. I use a flash in a lot of my photos, and it is easier to have it integrated into the camera, rather than having to have an external flash.

The flash adds better contrast to my photos, and a nice ‘pop.’ I make a stronger ‘figure to ground’ composition in my photographs. Also, it helps me control the light, when the light isn’t always in my favor.

I am no longer a slave to light. Now with the flash; the light is my slave.

6. Ergonomics

eric kim street photography black and white hands paris

No matter how advanced technology becomes, the human hand will not change. We need cameras that fit comfortably in our hand.

The Ricoh GR II fits perfectly in my hand. It is a small compact camera, yet has a sturdy grip. It is built solid, and doesn’t feel cheap.

7. Design

eric kim street photography hanoi-5

The design of the Ricoh GR II is pretty much perfect. There is nothing left to add or subtract. The design has been a classic– since the film Ricoh GR cameras. It is like a Leica camera– the design is perfected.

The GR II looks good from any angle, and fits in your front pocket. I like how the lens comes out when you turn it on, which allows the camera to be smaller.

8. Menus

eric kim photography hanoi-0007367

Also, menus and the user interface is important. I think the Ricoh GR II camera was actually engineered and designed by photographers. Why? The menus are simple, make sense, and not superfluous. You can almost customize everything, but still find all the options.

9. Dials

eric kim photography hanoi-mom death

I am a big fan of the ‘adjustment lever’ on the back of the Ricoh GR II — which makes it easy for me to change the ISO, focusing, and other options (you can program this).

Furthermore, I like how not everything is programable in the dials. I think it is the responsibility of the camera designers to know what is best for the photographer. I believe in the Steve Jobs model — people don’t know what they want until you give it to them.

I love how easy it is to change the exposure-compensation on the back of the camera as well.

10. Image quality

Cindy Project Monochrome-16 eric kim photography black and white

  • For monochrome, the Ricoh GR II looks amazing from ISO 1600-3200.
  • For color, the Ricoh GR II looks great from ISO 800-1600.

eric kim street photography - color - chroma-16-1

Because it has a larger sensor, the images are a lot sharper, and have more detail and resolution than a smartphone. I am still a big fan of smartphone photography, but I still prefer the look of the photos I get on the Ricoh GR II.

11. Lens

eric kim street photography - color - portrait-hands-new orleans-10-1

The Ricoh GR II is by default a 28mm lens (full-frame equivalent). You can also turn on a 35mm/50mm crop mode. I used to shoot the 35mm crop mode quite a bit, but since then, I have transitioned into shooting 28mm for everything; as I find it more of a fun challenge.

The lens is very sharp, and the aperture of 2.8 is more than I need.

12. No camera is perfect

eric kim street photography - storyboard

The Ricoh GR II isn’t perfect. The autofocus is relatively slow, inaccurate, and the buffer for RAW files is a bit slow.

Yet, despite those flaws, I still think it is perfect to me. I have made some of the most meaningful personal photos with it the last 2 years, and great street photos as well.

I also love it for travel. Small and light, and I can charge it via a USB cable. So no need for superfluous chargers.

I genuinely believe that any photographer that buys a Ricoh GR II will love it, and it will allow them to always have their camera with them (no excuses), end up making more photos, and finding more personal meaning in their photography and life.

13. Don’t buy it if you cannot afford it

If you’re tight on a budget; please don’t buy the Ricoh GR II. Just use the camera you already own, and make photos that make your heart sing.

14. Make more art

eric kim laughing lady nyc 2015

The smaller and less obtrusive the camera; the better. The more art you can make. So regardless if you use your smartphone or whatever– just make more art:

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