Check out the updated book: “100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography.”
I am excited to announce my new free “open-source” e-book: “Learn From the Masters of Street Photography.” This book is a compilation of all the lessons I’ve distilled from my “Learn From the Masters Series” on the blog, in a convenient PDF for you to read, learn from, edit, remix, and share.
This project is very close to my heart, because I think it is my greatest work to date. I have poured my entire heart, blood, and soul into this work (along with drinking close to 100 espressos in total). I truly hope that this book helps stimulate some new ideas, helps push you outside of your creative zone, and for you to embrace these timeless lessons from the masters of photography.
As a side-note, I actually turned down a lucrative book offer on the book. The publisher gave me a very good deal and was very accommodating, but unfortunately weren’t comfortable with me releasing a free and open-source PDF of the book (one of my non-negotiables). After all, the money I could have earned looked very attractive, but the purpose of my life is to create open, empowering, and free education and information for you. Anything that prevents me from doing so is against my morales and principles. So enjoy this labor of my love :)
You can download the book for free via the links below. If you enjoy the book, share it with a friend and spread the love:
You can download the original .pages manuscript (to edit, remix, and translate as you please):
Here are all the quotes (in a convenient text file to keep with you):
Pay What You Want
In total this book took me about 3 years to put together. 2 years spent writing all the “Learn From the Masters” articles, 3-6 months re-reading all the articles, distilling the information into the 82 lessons, and another 2 months designing and putting together the book.
To keep this information free and open, I am sticking to this “pay what you want” model; which helps me continue to pay my rent, pay for my caffeine addiction, and provide this information for you.
You can also make a donation of your own price via Paypal.
How to use the book
The book is pretty massive (275 pages), so if you happen to find a place that can print it cheaply, feel free to print it out, and bind it together with a bigass stapler.
I recommend downloading the book to your phone, iPad, or digital device, and use it like a handbook of inspiration. Feel free to skip around, and digest one lesson for the day before you go out and shoot, or whenever you’re feeling uninspired.
Each section also has an assignment and an example of how I applied the lessons to my own photography.
Don’t take any of these “lessons” in this book as a “rule.” They are just guidelines, tips, and pieces of advice to help us find our own voice and vision in photography.
“What has interested me in taking photographs is the maximum — the maximum that exists in a situation and the maximum I can produce from it.” – Josef Koudelka
I love photography with all of my heart and soul. For the last 9 years, I have tried to seek my own personal voice, style, and path in photography. This journey has led me through life in so many incredible ways. I have learned so many valuable lessons in photography (and life) which has transformed me as a human being.
My particular interest has been in street photography; capturing moments of everyday life in public settings. I have always been drawn to my fellow human beings, and street photography has helped me become a more empathetic human being.
However ultimately, photography is photography. I used to feel that I should only shoot “street photography”, but I have discovered in my path that it doesn’t matter what you shoot. What matters is how shooting makes you feel. What matters is whether photography pushes you outside of your comfort zone, and whether you are able to achieve your personal “maximum” in your life.
I feel the purpose of my life is to produce knowledge, and to distill information and lessons I’ve learned about photography to the masses. I am certainly not a “master” myself; just a humble student dedicated to a life-long pursuit of learning. Everything I share in this book is a distillation of the lessons I’ve learned from the masters of photography. Don’t take everything in this book as “truth”. Rather, see the masters of photography as your personal guides. Take these lessons with a pinch of salt; pick and choose which lessons resonate with you, and throw away the rest.
Ultimately to find your own personal vision and style in photography, you just need to know yourself as a human being. “Know thyself” is the distillation of wisdom known to the ancient Greeks. So I hope that this book helps you discover who you are as a photographer, and this concept of “street photography” can be used as a vessel or a boat to help you along your life’s journey.
But once the boat has served its purpose; burn it and continue along your own path.
I also share some of my personal lessons in this book– how the lessons from the masters of photography have helped influence my vision and personal journey. So let us enjoy this path together my dear friend. Disregard what others may think of your photography; seek inner-happiness, and fulfill the maximum you can out of your work and life.
Love, Eric (at Free Speech Movement Cafe, UC Berkeley, 10:23am, Tues, October 6, 2015)
Table of Contents
- Lesson #1: Get closer
- Lesson #2: Shoot from the gut
- Lesson #3: Don’t shoot from the hip
- Lesson #4: Don’t crop
- Lesson #5: Emotionally detach yourself from your photographs
- Lesson #6: Provoke your subjects
- Lesson #7: Don’t be a slave to your camera
- Lesson #8: Embrace “beginner’s mind”
- Lesson #9: Limitations are freedom
- Lesson #10: Shoot with a “Stream-of-Consciousness”
- Lesson #11: Embrace failure
- Lesson #12: Add “something more” in the frame
- Lesson #13: Master your body language
- Lesson #14: Kill your master
- Lesson #15: Follow your curiosity
- Lesson #16: Leave your photos open to interpretation
- Lesson #17: Separate yourself from your photos (kill your ego)
- Lesson #18: Photograph what you love
- Lesson #19: Every photograph you take is a self-portrait
- Lesson #20: Don’t repeat yourself
- Lesson #21: Ask for permission
- Lesson #22: Don’t hesitate
- Lesson #23: Don’t become pigeonholed by definitions
- Lesson #24: Don’t stop your projects too soon
- Lesson #25: It’s okay to shoot shitty photos
- Lesson #26: Chase the light
- Lesson #27: Channel your emotions into your photos
- Lesson #28: All photos are accurate, none of them is truth
- Lesson #29: Disturb your viewer
- Lesson #30: Disregard technical settings; focus on the idea
- Lesson #31: Enjoy the process
- Lesson #32: Single photos can’t tell stories
- Lesson #33: Don’t focus on marketing your work
- Lesson #34: Subtract from the frame
- Lesson #35: Make yourself vulnerable
- Lesson #36: Don’t go “pro”
- Lesson #37: Stay hungry, stay foolish
- Lesson #38: Don’t take easy photos
- Lesson #39: Print your photos
- Lesson #40: Don’t get suckered by “the exotic”
- Lesson #41: Why are you pushing the button?
- Lesson #42: Create specific photographs
- Lesson #44: Arrange yourself, not others
- Lesson #45: Don’t just take photos of people
- Lesson #46: Focus on content over form
- Lesson #47: Learn how to see
- Lesson #48: Every photo you take is a self-portrait
- Lesson #49: Don’t shoot your preconceived notions
- Lesson #50: Time is your ultimate resource
- Lesson #51: There is nothing wrong with staging photos
- Lesson #52: Don’t have a project
- Lesson #53: Improve a little bit everyday
- Lesson #54: Make something extraordinary from the ordinary
- Lesson #55: Don’t see your photos as art
- Lesson #56: Constantly question yourself
- Lesson #57: Feel emotions in color
- Lesson #58: Always have a camera with you
- Lesson #59: Make books
- Lesson #60: Create relationships in your frame
- Lesson #61: Pave your own path
- Lesson #62: Stick with one camera for a long time
- Lesson #63: Learn where to stand
- Lesson #64: Expect to be disappointed
- Lesson #65: On digital vs film
- Lesson #66: Kill your babies
- Lesson #67: Milk the cow, a lot
- Lesson #68: Don’t shoot for others
- Lesson #69: Photograph your own backyard
- Lesson #70: Make images that stand on their own
- Lesson #71: Your photo either works or it doesn’t
- Lesson #72: Abstract reality
- Lesson #73: Capture your own personal “decisive moments”
- Lesson #74: Rules will set you free
- Lesson #75: Experiment
- Lesson #76: Disregard fame
- Lesson #77: Think long-term
- Lesson #78: Create a relationship with your subjects
- Lesson #79: Don’t bore your viewer
- Lesson #80: Embrace your job
- Lesson #81: Don’t become married to your beliefs
- Lesson #82: You’re only as good as your last photo
Below is a list of all the assignments in the book:
- Assignment: The “.7 Meter Challenge”
- Assignment: “Marinate” your shots
- Assignment: Have your subjects see you
- Assignment: Focus on the edges
- Assignment: Create context in your frame
- Assignment: “Can you do that again?”
- Assignment: Document your own life
- Assignment: Shoot what it feels like
- Assignment: Don’t be afraid to click
- Assignment: Fill the frame
- Assignment: Eye contact
- Assignment: Contradict a “rule”
- Assignment: Curiosity notebook
- Assignment: Make an “open” photo
- Assignment #2: Make a “closed” photo
- Assignment: They’re not your photos
- Assignment: What do you love?
- Assignment: Role-play
- Assignment: Repetition and Variety
- Assignment: The 10 “yes”, 10 “no” challenge
- Assignment: when in doubt, click
- Assignment: Try shooting another genre
- Assignment: One square block
- Assignment: Take 10,000 shitty photos
- Assignment: Study the light
- Assignment: Shoot how you feel
- Assignment: Haters are gonna hate
- Assignment: Try out “P” mode
- Assignment: Make yourself miserable
- Assignment: Tell a story
- Assignment: Don’t publish any photos for 6 months
- Assignment: Subtract until there isn’t anything left to subtract
- Assignment: What does it feel like to be on the other side?
- Assignment: Give away your photos
- Assignment: Shoot without film or a memory card
- Assignment: Shoot what you’re afraid of
- Assignment: Print your photos
- Assignment: Shoot your own backyard
- Assignment: Why do you take photos?
- Assignment: Shoot only one color
- Assignment: Trace over your photos
- Assignment: Shoot head-on
- Assignment: Shoot intimate objects
- Assignment: The human condition
- Assignment: Imagine if you were to become blind tomorrow
- Assignment: Self-portrait
- Assignment: Reset
- Assignment: What if you died tomorrow?
- Assignment: Direct your subject
- Assignment: Find a common theme or pattern in your work
- Assignment: Take 1 photograph everyday
- Assignment: Make something ugly into something beautiful
- Assignment: Make fun of yourself
- Assignment: Always question yourself
- Assignment: Photograph a color and mood
- Assignment: Always have your camera with you
- Assignment: Make a “zine”
- Assignment: Juxtapose two unrelated things in a single frame
- Assignment: Creatively Isolate yourself
- Assignment: One camera, one lens
- Assignment: Always take a step forward
- Assignment: Learn from your mistakes
- Assignment: Experiment with film
- Assignment: Kill your babies
- Assignment: The 1,000 photo challenge
- Assignment: “Personal documentary”
- Assignment: Shoot driveways
- Assignment: Show your photos to kids
- Assignment: When in doubt, ditch.
- Assignment: What is going on?
- Assignment: Shoot meaningful moments in your daily life
- Assignment: Create a rule for yourself
- Assignment: Try out different lenses
- Assignment: Create a secret social media profile
- Assignment: Think of a 10-year project
- Assignment: Talk with a stranger for at least 10 minutes
- Assignment: Shock and awe
- Assignment: Count your blessings
- Assignment: Find a counter-example to your beliefs
- Assignment: Only show your best 5 photos
- Assignment: What 1 photo do you want to be remembered for after you die?
Screenshots from the Book
Below is a sneak-peak of some of the pages of the book:
Other Free E-books by Eric Kim
Below is a list of all of the other free e-books available for you.
You can download all the PDF’s on Google Drive.
- The Street Photography Composition Manual (illustrated)
- The Street Portrait Manual (illustrated)
- 31 Days to Overcome Your Fear of Shooting Street Photography
- Street Photography 101: An Introduction to Street Photography (Portuguese translation here)
- How to Overcome Photographer’s Block (French Translation here)
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
- Zen in the Art of Street Photography
- Letters from a Street Photographer
- Street Photography Aphorisms, Heuristics, and Sayings
Make your own book
Dear friend, the last thing I want to leave with you is this: make your own book.
Design it in Google Docs, Apple Pages, Microsoft Word, or whatever basic software you have. Put together all the lessons you’ve personally learned, and share it with others.
Of course we are all students at the end of the day, but I think there is nothing more beautiful than sharing knowledge you’ve picked up along the way.
You don’t need to be an “authority”, “expert”, or “professional” to do any of this. I still consider myself an amateur, and I am still learning everyday (and killing old theories I picked up in the past).
So make your own photography book, project, and distribute it openly and freely. Push the human race forward with your knowledge, ideas, and creativity. You have no limits.
@ CC Coffeeshop in New Orleans, Mon, 3:05pm, with a double-shot of espresso
Unleash your creative potential:
- April 10-11th, 2021: BOSTON / Discover Your Unique Voice in Photography Workshop [Register Intent Here]
- May 1-2nd, 2021: CHICAGO / Street Photography Composition Masterclass [Register Intent Here]
- May 22-22nd, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS by ERIC KIM [Register Intent Here]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.