Berkeley, 2015
Berkeley, 2015

Dear Eric,

I want to write this letter for you, as a reminder of sorts to meditate upon some of the thoughts running around in your head.

Remember when you used to work in IT at UCLA? How many people complained that their computer didn’t work, and a simple rebooting of their computers fixed the problem?

I think the same thing applies to your own life’s problems: simply reboot. Don’t let the demons of your past drag you down. Reboot, and start afresh.

I think one of the things you did for yourself which was refreshing was rebooting your Flickr. I know how attached you were to your images, and how great you thought you were. You were attached to your older black and white photos, and while they were pretty, as your friend Josh told you, they weren’t that memorable (besides a few photos, like the dark faced man in Tokyo, the jazz hands lady, and your grandfather series). So what you ended up doing was listening to Josh, re uploading your “Grandfather” series to your portfolio, and you removed your older black and white “Grit and grain” series of your best black and white photos. That was difficult, but damn refreshing.

So anyways, you marked all of your photos on Flickr to private, except your new color street portraits shot on a digital Ricoh GR. Josh told you that he felt these images felt more honest, and you agreed. Not only that, but wasn’t it refreshing to simply “reboot” your entire Flickr and start again from scratch?

A few months ago, your blog went offline. Suddenly, all 1,000+ of your posts over the last few years were gone. Disappeared.

At first you freaked out. You crapped your pants. You thought you got hacked, and jumped to all these conclusions.

Yet after the first hour of panic, you actually felt an intense wave of calm. Everything you said before was now dead. You actually looked forward to restarting from scratch, just like a beginner. And honestly at the end of the day, the only thing you’re really proud of include your recent ebooks made into PDFs. If suddenly your entire blog disappeared again, I think you would have no regrets. Just keep writing, putting together those PDFs, and don’t expect to leave some sort of legacy. Just do your work, day by day, and be diligent. Don’t give up, keep drinking coffee, and ultimately write for yourself and a few good friends, without seeking others approval.

Another interesting thing that you tried out is dropping “street photography” from your title. After all, your ultimate passion (at least for now) is street photography. Why would you change your title from “Eric Kim Street Photography Blog” to simply “Eric Kim Photography Blog?” Well, nowadays you’re starting to feel a bit trapped by being pigeonholed into the genre of “street photography”, because you don’t only shoot street photography. You shoot different types of photography. You’re exploring a lot more “personal documentary photography” (similar to Anders Petersen) in which you’re photographing your loved ones (like Cindy). Josh White also helped inspire you in this direction.

Not only that, but you don’t want the blog to just appeal to street photographers, but to all photographers. I think what you want to do is to make it more general, because ultimately all of us photographers deal with the same issues in life: issues with not having enough money and free time, issues trying to find our own voices, and the stress and anxiety of not getting enough “likes” or comments on social media. So why restrict yourself to just a small audience of street photographers. You were built and put on this earth to serve all of mankind. So don’t restrict yourself. Perhaps even down the line you can rename the blog to just “Eric Kim Blog”, where you don’t even have to just talk about photography either, because your interests also lie in philosophy, happiness, psychology, history, and other topics. Don’t restrict yourself. Speak your mind, be open and free, and know that most people won’t appreciate or care what you say or do or write. But once again, you’re ultimately writing to solve your internal fucked up mind, to solve your inner stresses, to medicate your own ailments. If anyone gains benefit from it, be happy. If not, be happy that you’re helping yourself at the end of the day.

So how else can you reboot your life? Reboot your family history; don’t be held back by the demons of your past with all the drama with your mom and your dad. Reboot your photography, don’t feel you only need to shoot “street photography”, just shoot whatever makes you happy. Reboot your social life; only spend time with the select few friends who truly bring joy to your life. Reboot your philosophies on a daily basis; don’t feel tied to these arbitrary “rules” you set yourself. Know that when you find a rule you set yourself in life no longer works, change it. Don’t be a fool and be stubborn. Ditching film (for now) and shooting digital has made you feel like a beginner again, more free, and more fun. So stick with it, don’t feel like you need to stick with film just for the sake of it.

Anyways, you have an amazing day to look forward to, to teach your Seattle street photography class. Help the students build their confidence, show them love, compassion, and your heart. Ultimately focus less on technique, and more on treating them like human beings. Remember at the end of the day, they’re not going to remember what you taught them, but that you loved them.

Oh yeah, and you’re allowed to have as many coffees today as you want (you deserve it). Hipster espressos galore, woot!

Love always,

9:35am, Thursday, 9/17/2015 @ Walters house after a nice espresso he made for you, always be grateful of his friendship and those who have helped you along the way.

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