I am writing this as a practical instructional manual in terms of how to start your own photography blog. Note that none of this is “truth” or “rules” — these are simply guidelines that I wish I knew when I started a photography blog. I will share some tips, pieces of advice, and lessons which can help you practically when starting a photography blog.
Why start a photography blog?
First of all, only start a photography blog because you want to. Not because you feel like you “should” create a blog because everyone else is.
Funny enough— a blog is kind of a dated thing now. All the young kids are now on Instagram and Snapchat— it is rare that young people make blogs anymore.
So don’t think that blogs are a “fad”— they are forms of self-expression and communication which are here to stay.
Interestingly enough— apparently 90% of the web is now powered by WordPress (commonly known as a blogging platform, but now most major websites like the NY times, etc run on it).
So why start a photography blog?
Well— start a blog if you must start a blog. If you have something you really want to share with the rest of the world, and you don’t want to be a slave to a platform (ie. social media apps).
My experiences blogging
I’ve been blogging for over a decade now (I started blogging first on “Xanga” when I was 16 years old) and now I am 27 years old. To be frank, blogging hasn’t changed much in these last 10 years (except the addition of new widgets, more powerful customization, and the conquering of Google of teh interwebz).
I first personally started to blog because I wanted to share some of my ridiculous ideas and musings. I also enjoyed to write.
My high school blog was pretty bullshit— it was me ranting and raving about random high school drama. Funny enough, I went by the moniker “ekizz” (my friend Aaron made it up for me in middle school; a combination of “Eric” and “Kim”) and it was my other more confident, self-assured (and very rude) online persona.
I started my photography blog (originally erickimphotography.com was a photo blog), and I posted a photo everyday. I did this starting 18 years old (when I first got into college). When I was 18, my mom got me my first point-and-shoot digital camera (Canon powershot) and I wanted to somehow share the photos with the world. At that time, Facebook didn’t exist, and there wasn’t an easy way to share images at the time. So the “photoblog” platform (essentially an online gallery where you can post photos on a daily basis) was the only way to do it.
I posted consistently everyday to keep myself motivated, and also to share all of the photos I was proud of. At the time I didn’t track “stats” and I never got any comments— I simply posted because I enjoyed the process.
Over time, I started to get interested in street photography. I remember the day that I changed my website title from “Eric Kim Photography” to “Eric Kim Street Photography.” I would say from that point I got really serious about street photography (at age 20).
When I was 20, I was frustrated because there wasn’t any websites on how to shoot street photography. In-fact, I had no idea what the genre was. So a lot of my personal learning was based on trial-and-error, and many of the lessons I learned were from my close photography friends.
When I was 22 years old, I just graduated college and started working full-time. I always wanted to start a blog (specifically on street photography) since I knew that there were a lot of other people on the internet (like me) who wanted to learn the practical side of street photography— how to shoot without getting punched in the face, what to look for, technical settings, and how to compose better photos.
Thus my blog was born. I wasn’t sure what platform to use— but it seemed at the time WordPress was a better option than Blogger (as I was able to self-host my own blog via the open-source WordPress.org platform). Thank God I did this— because now Google has (more or less) deserted Blogger, and WordPress has taken over the world. In this fact, I just got lucky— and I am also glad that I self-hosted my own blog (meaning I installed their blogging software on my own website server, which gave me 100% control over my content, and also gave me the power to customize my own site as I saw fit). So quick lesson of the story; if you can afford it, don’t use free services (otherwise you relinquish control of your content).
Anyways, I started the blog out of a hobby and a pure love for the genre of street photography. I woke up everyday about an hour before work (around 7:30am) and blogged for about an hour, before biking into work and starting my job at around 10am. Sometimes I would be “in the zone” of writing, that I would get to work late (10:30am). During my lunch hours, I would brainstorm ideas for new articles (and sometimes wrote for 30 minutes with my little netbook at the local Starbucks) when I had a good idea. When I got home after work, I would sometimes answer emails on my street photography-related blog email, and use that time to upload photos from other photographers, to share their images on the blog.
All of this was a compulsion. I didn’t do it because someone was forcing me to do it. Rather, I did it for the pure joy and love of it.
How I first started blogging
I also tried to be consistent. I blogged (more or less consistently for about 2 years+) every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday without fail (2010-2012). I would say this is how I was able to build up my audience, as they knew that there would always be new posts available then.
Monday were for practical street photography “tips.” Wednesdays were for featured photographers. Fridays were “community-oriented” (I shared photos based on weekly shooting assignments). All of these were the factors that helped bring more eyeballs to the blog.
I would say that it was a bit stressful at times— I would wake up super-early on those days, or sometimes I would stay up late to get those posts out. Sometimes it gave me anxiety not to share a post— because I knew that people were depending on me.
However at the same time now looking back— I don’t think you should ever force yourself to blog. After all, life is stressful enough— why add another stress?
I also heard the unfortunate statistic that 99.9% of blogs die after the first month. The secret to having a “successful” blog isn’t to get millions of followers. The secret is to simply not let your blog die.
The only thing I admire (now) in bloggers (any bloggers, whether tech, photography, or general) is their longevity. If they are able to blog for a decade+ (Leo from zenhabits.net, Tim Ferriss from the 4 Hour Workweek, and Blake Andrews (street photographer and prolific blogger)— I got mad respect. Because they really do it for the love.
There really is little (to no) money in blogging itself. Trust me, you will never make millions on just Google Adwords alone (unless you are the top .01% of websites on the internet). I am fortunate enough to “monetize” my blog by teaching street photography workshops. Leo makes his living (I believe mostly) from his “Sea Change” online membership program. Tim Ferriss has already made a shitload of money from investing in internet companies— and he only blogs and makes podcasts to help empower others. Blake Andrews also does it for the love (he makes his day-living as a radio DJ).
Why should you start a blog?
What is the impetus that drives you to start your own photography blog?
First of all, don’t take yourself too seriously. A blog is fun because it doesn’t have to be serious. I would treat it as a personal playground— for you to share photos, ideas, links, and other random musings. My first blog posts weren’t about street photography, but just random snapshots of me and Cindy eating deep-fried cheese curds in Wisconsin. I only discovered my “voice” after probably a year of solid blogging. And still every year— my voice changes. I feel the blog is in constant flux— I am no longer the same human being (I curse more, am more reflective, more consumerist, more mindful, have more experience) and if I saw my 18-year-old self again, I would slap myself upside the head and give myself some (very important) life lessons.
Secondly, I think it needs to be a passion. Why? Everything that you don’t have a deep-rooted passion for will eventually die out.
What do I mean by “passion?” I mean the fire that burns within your soul— that drives you to live, to love, and to share your wisdom with others. I think passion is something that you can’t really describe— you either have it or you don’t. I believe it is a product of the environment in which you grew up in (I read a shitload of books as a kid, those 1000+ page Star Wars tomes when I was 10 years old) and writing was always an enjoyable activity (I always liked my English classes). Not only that, but my Dad had a love of film (I watched a lot of classic avant-garde films growing up; I remember watching ‘Schindler’s list’ when I was 11 years old) — perhaps this informed my photographic vision. My mom was also an avid photographer (I have some of the best photos of me as a kid). Apparently my uncle was a professional photographer, and my grandfather was really into photography. Oh yeah and my Dad was really into reading and the English language— he was the first of his entire family to immigrate to the states (and I learned later he was very well-read in Nietzsche and other classic philosophers).
A good way to discover what your passion is to ask yourself this question:
“If tomorrow I had a billion dollars transferred to my personal checking account, and no longer had to work for money, what would I do with my time?”
I think the wrong question is to ask yourself, “What will I do with the money.” The right question is what will you do with your time.
I have been asking this question a lot to my friends and family, and have been very surprised what they told me. Some of them told me that they would dedicate their lives to charity (helping impoverished children in developing countries). Others told me that they would just read all day (my friend Joon). Others told me that they would work as animation artists (or travel the world and take photos). The really sad thing? A lot of my friends had no idea.
And that is damn depressing— when you’re in school (as a kid) you have so many dreams, ambitions, and passions. But then standardized testing comes out and stomps out all of your dreams. You are no longer told to imagine, dream, be creative, be yourself, be unique, and change the world— you are told to shut up, sit down, listen to the teacher, pass your exams, get into a good college, get a good job, buy a nice car, a 3-bedroom house in the suburbs, start a family, go to church every Sunday, save enough for retirement, send your kids to private school, retire when you are 65, travel the world, then die.
Do what you want
No matter your situation in life, you have unlimited opportunity and potential to do whatever the fuck you want.
If you want to really travel the world— the question you want to ask yourself is, “How bad do I want it?” To be frank, you can travel the world on a shoestring (less than $500 a month) in Southeast Asia or India (if you stay in hostels and eat cheap street food). Now if you have a family and kids— that is a different story (but then again, a lot of families grow up in poverty with 5+ kids, and somehow all their basic needs are met).
But I am starting to realize that you don’t need to do something rash and quit your job to live out your dreams. Sometimes just a two-week travel abroad can change your perspective about life (often traveling is just you trying to escape the misery from your life— travel itself is not the goal).
The stoic philosophers have taught me that happiness isn’t getting everything you desire in life— but rather, how to best make the use of the life you already have. So if you’re born into poverty, don’t goad after the wealth of the rich— see what you can do within your limited needs to create art.
If you have an iPhone (no other camera)— you can make really fantastic art and photography with it (look at @koci on Instagram). You don’t need a fancy DSLR. Even if you have a DSLR (entry level) your equipment is more than sufficient. I personally recommend a Ricoh GR II to anyone who wants a more “serious” camera for street photography (it is a point-and-shoot digital camera with an APS-C sensor that costs $550) — and fortunately most of us with “full-time jobs” can afford it).
You have no limits
The fantastic thing about the internet and technology is that you no longer have limits.
I also feel that the photography blog is the best way to share your photos with the world.
Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr— all these online sites are owned by companies. Effectively when you upload your photos to these sites, they own your content. Not only that, but I feel these social media sites are just games. You try to “game” the system of Flickr by trying to get on “Explore” (by adding a ton of tags, and uploading at the right time). You try to “game” Instagram by getting more followers by mass-following a ton of people, and hoping that they “follow back.” For Facebook, not all the photos you upload are seen by everybody (they are filtered by what Facebook thinks is relevant).
A photography blog gives you direct access to your audience.
Another thing I regret not doing earlier— focusing on email newsletters/mailing lists (rather than trying to get more social media followers). Why? An email is instantly deliverable— and will be guaranteed (more or less) to enter the inbox of your follower. As much as we hate email, it is here to stay. Email has been around the longest, is the most stable, and still is (unfortunately) the “least bad” way to communicate online. And if you are like me, you probably compulsively check your email every 30 seconds or 2 minutes.
Tools to get your photography blog started
First of all, if you can afford it— please please please self-host your own photography blog (meaning you should pay for a monthly web server and your own website domain).
I personally use 1and1.com (I don’t like them, but am now married to them). I would recommend bluehost.com (used them for client websites and blogs, they have a “1 click WordPress Install” which is awesome).
Regardless of what you use, you are going to install the WordPress.org framework to your website server. This is essentially the backend you need to host all of your photography-blogging content. It is kind of like the dashboard of your car (WordPress also powers the engine).
They call WordPress a “CMS” (content management system)— meaning, it looks pretty as a user. It is very very easy to customize how your blog looks, performs, and there are tons of plugins and themes you can download.
In terms of themes, I recommend the “Genesis” WordPress framework— which is a paid premium blog template which makes customization (and themes) really clean, simple, and easy.
I also recommend you to get a simple domain (firstnamelastnamephoto.com)— because if anyone ever Googles your first and last name, your photography blog will be more likely to pop up.
What if I can’t afford a photography blog?
First of all, once again— if you are in the west, you can afford a photography blog ($10 a month, about the price of 2 Starbucks coffees a month). You are probably too stingy (I used to hate paying for online services, because I thought they should all be “free”). But once again, if you use online products which are free— you are the product (meaning, the company owns your content, sells your personal data to third-party companies, and they have the power to change their platform whenever they would like). $10 a month is a small price to pay for your freedom.
However if you really really can’t afford that for some reason, I just recommend using WordPress.com. My friend Josh White hosts his site on WordPress.com (his site is jtinseoul.wordpress.com)— but the problem is having your reader have to type in the “.wordpress.com” is a bit of a pain in the ass. Better to have your own domain (www.yourfirstnamelastnamephoto.com).
Another piece of advice I would give to you starting off— these are things you shouldn’t do to your blog:
- Don’t install tons of side-widgets: (like a Twitter widget, social media widgets, email widget, etc).
- Don’t enable comments: (the irony is that I found disabling comments gives me more motivation to blog. Why? If I blog something which I thought was great and get 0 comments, it depresses me and dismotivates me to post again).
- Don’t obsess over stats: The more you look at your stats, the more miserable you will be.
Write for yourself
One of the most difficult things for me is to be inspired to come up with ideas to write about.
Personally I have found out that when I write as self-therapy, or as a personal diary— I never run out of things to write.
So friend, when you start your photography blog— don’t take it too seriously. Imagine if you are just writing for yourself.
I think the great thing about a blog is that it is like a public diary— you can share your progress in your photography over the years, and make that process transparent. You can share your photos, share the stories— and do it for your own uses.
Another tip— write as if you are writing to a friend.
For example, I have a good friend named Mark (he is the one I sent the Ricoh GR to)— and I am writing this article for him. He told me he was interested in starting his own photo blog— so Mark, this is all advice I want to give you (based on my experience).
Also don’t take your blog too seriously. Not everything you write has to be grammatically correct (mine certainly isn’t)— nor does it need to be well-polished like in academia or in school.
Honestly, I think there are too many “grammar nazis” out there who miss the point. They care more about grammar than the content and meaning of the words.
Similarly, there are no “rules” in blogging. Blogging is just writing whatever the hell you want, and having some sort of forum to do so. Blogging is the ultimate freedom— nothing holds you back.
I am starting to distrust social media more and more as time goes on.
I frankly regret all the time I wasted on social media sites. I wish I invested more time into this blog— as social media is (mostly) a distraction.
If you want to start a mailing list, you can simply collect emails via Google Sheets, use Mailchimp.com (free until you have about 1,000 subscribers— I currently pay for this service, around $50 a month, and have around 5,000+ subscribers).
Don’t censor yourself
I think the “realer” you are when you write— the more authentic it is. I purposefully make it a point not to edit my thoughts too much— because at the end of the day, the blog is your own playground.
Don’t worry about being misunderstood, criticized, or critiqued. The more you censor yourself, the more you water down your message.
Furthermore, I would rather be extremely hated by 1,000’s of people (and have a few dozen people really like me) than have hundreds of “mildly interested” people (credit to Nassim Taleb).
Even now, even though I get roughly 15,000+ page views a day on this blog (7,000+ unique visitors a day), I feel like it is a small personal diary that I am writing for a few of my friends. In-fact, I have no idea what 7,000 people look like. I know what 16 people look like (usually my workshop class size).
So when you write your blog, first of all write for yourself. Then after that, imagine like you’re writing for a friend. Then after that, imagine you are writing for a small audience (few dozen people).
The more you try to “pander to the masses”— the more generic and uninteresting your writing will be.
Another thing that helps me— write as you talk. Sure once again, the grammar won’t be very good, but people will get the gist of what you are trying to say. Also try not to edit while you’re writing, or else you will lose your stream-of-consciousness.
And whenever in doubt, drink more coffee and put on some good music.
Getting more eyeballs on your blog
So let’s say you want more followers, page views, or whatever. That is totally fine, here are some practical tips:
First of all, do “guest blog posts” — do a guest blog post for a popular photography blog that you frequent. My suggestion: write the article, attach 5 photos, and email the finished product to the editor of the blog and tell them that they can use the article for free on their site— and just to have them link to your blog. This is a great strategy— it is “free content” for the popular blog, and it will also drive people back to your blog.
Furthermore, be consistent. I personally drink coffee everyday (about 3 espressos a day). Can you imagine going to your favorite coffee shop and one day they suddenly don’t have any coffee? Would you ever go back? I doubt it.
I personally try to make it a practice to write everyday. But the irony is that I don’t force myself to write everyday. I just happen to write everyday, because I love it. Also another ironic thing— the less pressure I put on myself to write, the more likely I am to write.
Another great blogging pro-tip; don’t install “productivity” apps to your smartphone, everyday try to uninstall one app. Focus isn’t about working hard to focus— it is about ruthlessly eliminating distractions.
An example: I turn off my smartphone at 6pm, and keep it off until around noon the next day. Do not check your email first thing in the morning, it will totally fuck up your day. Why? You are constantly in “defensive” mode, and helping others— rather than helping yourself (writing and reading).
Another thing that has helped— I no longer have email or any social media apps on my phone. This has been the best thing for my mental sanity and clarity of thought. The only apps I have left is Chrome, Dropbox, Evernote, text-messaging, and Google Maps. Everything else is a distraction— and distractions are the death of the blogger.
Another thing I learned— 99% of the value of what I create is through a blog, and only 1% on social media. Unfortunately most bloggers have it flipped; they spend 99% of their time wasting on Facebook and Twitter, and only 1% of their time on “content creation.”
Julius Cesar has a great quote: “It is better to create than to learn.” For me, writing and creating is happiness.
Another tip— I try to read as few blogs online as possible. At the moment the only blogs I follow is Zenhabits.net and my friend Josh White (jtinseoul.wordpress.com). Less is more when it comes to consuming online content.
How to come up with ideas to write about
I see the blog as a forum for self-therapy. Meaning— I only write about things that I am personally having difficulties from.
For example, recently I have been writing a lot of articles against GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)— because I’ve been tempted to buy new shit (I don’t need). Similarly, all of the “lessons from the masters” articles were based on my own curiosity— I only wrote about photographers I was personally interested in, rather than what others told me to write.
Curiosity is one of the best drivers for research— and writing should be fun, exciting— and thrilling.
Also I recommend reading a lot of random books in terms of what you’re interested in. I also recommend not reading photography theory books (most of them are written by nerdy wanna-be photography critics and curators who don’t make good photos). Read random books like literature, history, psychology, or philosophy— and make novel ideas and connect them to photography.
For example, the majority of my reading material is stoic/zen/christian philosophy, psychology, sociology, cognitive science, and technology. I read these things because I’m interested in them— and I read them for fun. And when I’m reading these books, I might come up with a random blog post idea— and I will furiously write it down in Evernote or in a notebook (whatever is more convenient).
Then when it comes to the writing process, I only write when I feel like it. In the past I used to force myself to write— but once again, this is a recipe for disaster. Why? You begin to despise writing— you write out of a sense of obligation, rather than writing because you enjoy it. Writing, photography, and creative work should be “active leisure” — that brings you joy and happiness. It should never feel like “work.”
Even when I’m typing these lines— I feel like I am on cloud 9. I am happy to share with you all these lessons I’ve personally learned about blogging (from practice and the ‘real word’) — rather than some obscure theory written from some boring book on social media (written by someone who doesn’t even have a lot of followers online).
Realize that 9/10 of your ideas are going to be bad ideas you never write about. That is fine. Kill your bad ideas; and if you can even come up with one meaningful thing to write about everyday, you are money.
Finding time to write
One of the most difficult things is to find time to write; so here are some practical tips (I personally use).
First of all, I recommend always carrying a backpack with a laptop in it. Why? You never know when you will be “inspired” to write— whether it is early in the morning, in the afternoon, after a strong coffee (3pm), or in the evening (sitting at a cafe, waiting for your partner to finish some doctor appointment).
Another tip— eliminate all distracting apps from your laptop. Rather than trying to find the perfect “productivity app” — find the bare minimum necessary to write (I personally use “IA Writer” on the Mac in full-screen, in the ‘focused typing mode’) so I don’t get distracted. Another thing that has helped me (when I am severely distracted) is the “Freedom.to” app— it literally shuts off your internet for a pre-determined period of time, and you cannot disable it once you’ve turned it on (even if you restart your computer). When I was working on my “82 Lessons from the Masters of Street Photography” book, and I could not afford any distractions, I would disable my internet for 8 hours at a time (I would write straight from 6am until the early-afternoon). And holy shit— you will be amazed how focused and undistracted you will be without an internet connection.
Another tip— have a good playlist of songs that you like when you write. I personally have listened to Dr. Dre’s new “Compton” album probably 50 times the last two months, and have gotten a crapload of writing done. I also recommend using some external music player (I am using an iPod nano), so you don’t get distracted by your smartphone (playing music on your smartphone leads you to opening up other distracting apps).
I also don’t know about you— but I can never get any writing done at home. It is too quiet, stale, and sterile. I always get my writing done in busy coffeeshops (not Starbucks)— but local places (I am currently writing these lines at Philz coffee in Berkeley on Gilman, which is near my house). I have my headphones plugged in, a good coffee buzz, and the words seem to just flow from my fingertips.
Sorry I got a bit distracted; it is hard to find time to write. But it is easier to kill appointments and distractions (then naturally you will have more “white space” in your day to write).
I have a personal rule: no appointments or meetings during the day before lunch. This time is my golden time to get undistracted writing done. Even now— I am starting to realize that perhaps I should no longer have any meetings before 6pm (I like having the entire day to read/write). I know if you have a full-time job; this might not be a possibility. But if you have your weekends off, be a bit of a selfish asshole (and don’t make any appointments with friends)— and be selfish with your writing. The more selfish you are with your creative work, the more you will help people. Remember; before trying to water the gardens of others, you need to tend to your own garden.
Another practical tip— check email as little as humanly possible. Do we really need to check out email 100 times a day? No. I personally have a small adrenaline rush overtime I load my inbox, and then I suddenly get distracted from my writing and creative work. My personal rule is I try not to check email before noon— and preferably not before 6pm. But once again, if your job depends on checking your email every 5 minutes, that is different— but if you have an occupation which isn’t dependent on email, try to stay off email as much as possible. And on the weekends, please please please don’t check your work email on your phone (if you have a job that doesn’t require you tend to your email every minute, uninstall your email from your phone— and don’t worry, if someone dies they will actually give you a phone call, not an email).
Blog design considerations
I personally prefer a 1-column blog; as it tends to be the best reading experience. It also makes it “mobile optimized”— meaning, it will look best on a smartphone.
Furthermore, rather than trying to add new plugins and other distractions— see how you can minimize distractions.
I used to have social media buttons, but they ended up hurting me— when I wrote an article and didn’t get many likes, I felt disappointed and depressed. Now I no longer have social media “like” buttons— I write what I feel like, without worrying or caring about what others might think.
The biggest one; please please please don’t care about stats, page views, and other shit like that. Why not? It is like a drug — the days your page views go up, you feel ecstatic. The days it goes down and dips; you feel depressed. I personally haven’t checked my stats (except twice) in the last 2 years— and my God, it has given me so much peace of mind. It is kind of like owning stocks, apparently it isn’t good to check your stock prices everyday— or else you will feel like shit (I traded some stock on college, and I can attest to this).
Also for your menu; try to keep it limited (I recommend having fewer than 5 links in your navigation). Why? Fewer options means less “decision fatigue” for your reader— so only show your most important pages.
And please please please, you might get tempted (one day) to put Google Adwords on your site (I have tried this in the past)— but they make your site ugly. And don’t put on those pop-up banners and stuff, it is just rude to the viewer (I hate it when this happens to me).
But the ultimate rule to blogging, advertising, and marketing; don’t do onto others as you don’t want others to do unto you. If you personally don’t use adblock, you don’t mind advertisements, put Google ads on your site as you wish. I personally hate ads, so I don’t put them on my blog. But once again; follow your own heart, and do what feels ethically right to you.
Don’t be boring
I think the only “bad thing” you can do as a blogger is be boring.
As you get more popular as a blogger— write things that are interesting, helpful, or practical.
Even when it comes to sharing photos, ask yourself, “Is this photo boring?” If so, don’t share it publicly (you can still keep it for yourself, but remember a blog is still a public thing).
So friend — this is just all my practical advice, tips, and lessons for blogging based on my 10 years of blogging. I am still learning, and none of these are “rules” — just tips I wish I knew when I started blogging.
So friend, start your own blog. And make up your own rules. Learn as you go. Know that the journey is the reward. I personally find that the process of writing, creating, and blogging is actually more fun than looking back at old posts.
Don’t overthink it too. If you don’t care for all the technical parts of a blog (like setting up your own server, blah blah blah)— just start a Tumblr, Blogger, or WordPress.com— and just get started. It doesn’t need to be perfect. I personally feel that execution and just doing it is more important than getting all the details perfect.
Remember the Nike motto: “Just do it.”
Now go forth and create an epic photo blog. You got this.
@ Philz coffee in Berkeley, Wed 12:09pm, 2015.
Here are some random updates:
Street Photography Workshops 2016
I am excited to share the dates for my future 2016 street photography workshops:
- Jan 9-10th: San Francisco 2-day composition street photography workshop
- Feb 5-12th: Gulf Photo Plus 2016 series of workshops in Dubai
- April 19-20th: NYC 2-day composition street photography workshop
- April 26-27th: Toronto 2-day conquer your fear of shooting street photography workshop (maybe)
- April 16-17th: SF conquer your fear of shooting street photography workshop
- April 23-24: SF advanced street photography workshop
- Sept 24-25: Perth conquer your fear of shooting street photography workshop
- October 1-2: Melbourne conquer your fear of shooting street photography workshop
- October 8-9: Sydney conquer your fear of shooting street photography workshop
- November 5-6: Singapore conquer your fear of shooting street photography workshop
- November 12-13: Tokyo advanced street photography workshop
- November 19-20: Kyoto composition street photography workshop
I haven’t got all the details up yet, but you can stay updated when I have all the details and payment links on my street photography newsletter.
Free portfolio download
I have no idea when I will die; but I don’t want my photos to die with me (on my hard drive).
So you can Download my entire portfolio (2015) for free.
Feel free to make prints for yourself, use it for your desktop wallpaper— or whatever. It is all free and “open-source” — meaning you can do whatever the hell you want with them.
I don’t see these photos as “belonging” to me— sure, I happened to shoot them, but I made them to share with you, society, and the rest of humankind.
These are my favorite photos and most meaningful shots (all full-resolution). I hope you enjoy them.
I also hope on making more photo books and prints, stay updated with that.
I am currently re-reading “Antifragile” by Nassim Taleb— damn the book is so good (about my 7th time re-reading it; you can only tell how much you like a book based on how many times you re-read it).
I am also taking Nassim Taleb’s advice— I am trying not to read e-books on a Kindle or e-reader. Why? It is just another distraction. Sure books are heavy (I have the hardcover of “Antifragile”) but the reading experience is so much nicer— I love the texture of the paper, ability to write in it, and I have been writing personal notes in a small notebook.
I have (currently) decided to just stick with film for now. Why? Fewer complications and less need to constantly want to upgrade.
I therefore am sticking with the Leica MP and 35mm lens. I currently have Kodak Tri-X 400 film in the camera, and plan on pushing it just one stop (to ISO 800)— because it can help me save money. I was previously using a yellow filter (adds contrast), but will stop using it for now (I lose a stop of light).
For processing, I get them at a local lab (developed and scanned by “Berkeley Photo Lab”). I also have about 50 rolls of Kodak Portra 400 that I will probably drop off soon (super excited to see what is in it, I don’t even remember when I shot it— I discovered the film in the trunk of the Prius when visiting Cindy’s family in LA).
I am also taking a break from using the flash— just added bulk.
Why not color film? I like how with black and white, it is minimalism in the ultimate form— no colors to distract. I also love the timeless look of black and white film.
A lot of my shooting has been of the “Cindy Project” (photos of Cindy eating breakfast, working on the straps, as well as her rolling around in bed in the morning).
I also have realized that I love the fully-manual control of the Leica— it is pure simplicity. All I adjust is the shutter, the aperture, and focus. After testing all these digital cameras, I hate fucking around in the menus— and once again, all digital cameras are like iPhones— they will eventually be outdated in about 2 years, and I will have another “GAS” experience of wanting to buy something new.
Ironically owning the Leica MP and 35mm f/2 ASPH Leica Summicron lens is the “anti-GAS” solution. Why? Even though it is expensive (I spent $3,500 on the Leica MP, use from my friend Bellamy ‘Japan Camera Hunter’, and $2500 on the 35mm f/2 Summicron (used from my friend Todd))— I had no urge to upgrade. Why not? It will never be outdated (like a classic Porsche), and it is really the “end of the line” and the best film rangefinder money could possibly buy.
Now I don’t want to feed your GAS— I dropped $6,000 in this setup (not cheap). If you’re really into film, go ahead and invest in it. It is still cheaper than buying a car, buying a high-end Canon 5D Mark III system (and cheaper than a digital Leica, which will get outdated in 3 years). I have a nice peace-of-mind to know that my film Leica MP will be still functioning when I am 90 years old— and I hope to one day give it to my grandchildren (and they can give it to their grandchildren).
The only barrier has been the cost of film, which honestly, is not that much (I shoot a lot less on film than on digital)— and if I really can no longer afford to get film processed and scanned by a third party (I do this to save time, because I value my time more than my money), I can always process and scan it myself.
I’ve been trying to reduce my coffee intake, but honestly— fuck it, it helps me be more productive in terms of writing and being happy.
From this moment forward, I’m drinking however the hell much coffee I want. I only will not drink coffee when I’m tapped out (over-caffeinated and feel like shit). But I won’t purposefully not drink coffee because I “shouldn’t” drink coffee.
Espressos for life.
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