A Photographer’s Search For Meaning

Photo by Luis Donoso
Photo by Luis Donoso / SF, 2016

My friend Aaron Offord sent me Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” which has been one of the most inspirational and uplifting books I’ve read in a while. The story outlines Frankl’s story of surviving the Holocaust; he was a Jewish psychologist from Vienna. He writes about his struggles, and how men were able to survive the extermination camps.

Long story short, it was the man’s will to live through his purpose which kept him going. And hope.

For Viktor, his purpose was to stay alive to see his wife, and love was his energy and blood that kept him going.

For others, once they lost hope, they died.

A purpose-driven life

Viktor ended founding a school of psychology called “logotherapy”; the searching of a person’s purpose in life.

We all need a purpose to live in life.

For my mom, that was feeding me and my sister, paying the rent, and the hope that we would have a better life for her.

The purpose of my life it to produce some writings, videos, information, and lectures that can help you with your photography, your life, and to hopefully help you find your own life’s purpose.

What meaning do you get from making photos?

Why do you take photos? What do you feel is the purpose behind it? What meaning do you get from making photos?

I know some friends who gain much meaning because they are the “family photographer.” They document beautiful family moments, for future generations to enjoy.

I know photography teachers whose purpose is to empower their students through art and photography (to keep the kids from going down a negative path, with drugs, violence, etc.) In fact a lot of my friends who ended up getting addicted to drugs and gangs was because they felt they didn’t have a purpose, a sense of community, and love in their lives.

What is your “purpose”?

So friend, what is the purpose of your photography?

Do you take photos to capture beauty, and share that with the world?

Do you take photos to document beautiful daily moments of your family for future generations?

Do you take photos to connect with strangers? In fact one of the big reasons I love street photography and “street portraits” is that it helps build my courage, and helps me connect more emotionally with strangers. And I hope to share that love with strangers.

As a street photographer or whatever, use your camera as a tool of empathy, love, and emotion. Pictures themselves are meaningless without a purpose.

Now I believe in you. Ask yourself:

What is the purpose of my photography?

A tough question; not all of us will know the answer. But the more you contemplate this, the more purpose, meaning, energy, and motivation you will have.


*Sunday, Jan 10, 9:37am, was inspired and wrote this all on my smartphone with the “IA writer app.”

Random life updates

DSCF8862 DSCF8865

SF Composition Workshop 2016

Just finished a composition workshop in SF, very proud of the students for their final images:

Photo by Jay Rendon
Photo by Jay Rendon
Photo by Luis Donoso
Photo by Luis Donoso
Photo by Mike Aknin
Photo by Mike Aknin
Photo by Xiaomin Dai
Photo by Xiaomin Dai


Just stumbled onto the new song by Kanye West, “Real Friends” — really speaks to me. You can see the lyrics here.

What now?

SF, 2016 #ricohgr
SF, 2016 #ricohgr

Just finished my workshop in SF– was quite worried, caught a pretty nasty cold. Wasn’t sure whether I could teach the workshop, but fortunately after sleeping 14 hours the night before, and hitting 3-double espressos a day, I was able to make it through the workshop, and had a fantastic time.

I am so blessed to teach these workshops; to be truthful I don’t have much time to shoot much “street photography” anymore, as I am spending most of my time in Berkeley, going to coffee shops, reading, writing, and helping Cindy with life-related stuff.

I’m going to try my best in 2016 to continue producing more “open source” information related to photography, philosophy, and life. At the end of the day, I’m trying to be “happy” in life– and photography is one of the tools that help me realize my “creative potential.” And writing, of course.

Heading to Dubai Feb 3rd for “Gulf Photo Plus 2016“, for about two weeks, off to NYC for two weeks (March 17-28th) and doing two workshops there, and spending the rest of time at home in April. Then time with Cindy’s family, then off to Vietnam in the summer.

I’ve been also trying to think a lot about “innovation” — I really want to be the “Steve Jobs” of the photography-world. Hopefully to somehow “innovate” and help as many photographers as I can, through writing, videos, interviews, or whatever. Life is short; why spend my life trying to put more 0’s in my bank account, to buy more cameras and material shit. I would rather spend my very (short) life helping others as much as I can.

I still always stress about finances, my future kids and family, my immediate family, my health, and everything else. I still worry whether I will become “irrelevant” and whether people will “forget” me.

But I am still lucky that I know who my “real friends” are– and I will stay loyal to them until I die.

And thank you for always supporting me every step of my life’s journey– let’s continue to pound the pavement and pave new paths together.

New Film Simulation Lightroom Presets 2016

SF, 2016 #cindyproject with the "Eric Kim Tri-X 1600 v8" preset
SF, 2016 #cindyproject with the “Eric Kim Tri-X 1600 v8” preset

Just made some new film simulation presets for the Ricoh GR, these include:

  • Eric Kim Portra 400
  • Eric Kim Portra 800
  • Eric Kim Neopan 1600
  • Eric Kim Tri-X 1600

You can download them for free on Dropbox.

Share them with a friend, enjoy.

Street Photography Workshops 2016

Tokyo, 2012
Tokyo, 2012

If you’re feeling a lack of inspiration in your street photography and want to take your work to the next level, invest in an experience you will never forget:

– Jan 9-10: SF / Introduction to Composition
– Feb 5-12: Dubai / Gulf Photo Plus 2016
– Mar 19-20: NYC / Introduction to Composition
– Mar 26-27: NYC  / Conquer Your Fears
– April 16-17: SF / Conquer Your Fears
– April 23-24: SF / Discover Your Unique Voice
– Oct 1-2: Melbourne / Conquer Your Fears
– Oct 8-9: Sydney / Conquer Your Fears
– Nov 5-6: Singapore / Conquer Your Fears
– Nov 12-13: Tokyo / Discover Your Unique Voice
– Nov 19-20: Kyoto / Introduction to Composition

Monday, 11:20am, Jan 11, 2016 @ “Bellano” coffeeshop in San Jose. 

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