eric kim photography hanoi-0003882 - eric kim mom

How to Overcome Procrastination in Your Photography

eric kim photography hanoi-0003882 - eric kim mom
My mom / Hanoi, 2016

Dear friend,

Why is that a lot of us procrastinate in our photography — procrastinate taking photos, procrastinate starting our projects, procrastinating printing our work, or perhaps procrastinating on sharing our work?

1. Are you procrastinating, or just afraid?

Hanoi, 2017

First of all, I don’t necessarily think that procrastination is a bad thing. Often procrastination is an inner-wisdom; which prevents us from doing what isn’t really important.

However, I think a lot of people mistake procrastination with fear.

For example, we might procrastinate on pursuing our photography projects because we fear of being ridiculed. We fear failure. We fear letting ourselves down.

2. I can only blame myself

Hanoi, 2017 #cindyproject

I know for myself, I have been frustrated a lot in the past for not taking enough photos, for not always having my camera with me, for not working on photos that are meaningful to me, and for putting off what I was truly passionate about.

I would always blame myself — because I knew that I had all the right gear, the right computer, and the right environment.

In reality, the problem that I faced was that I was my own stumbling block. I lacked confidence in myself, to be a photographer, and to make photos.

3. KISS (keep it simple, stupid)

Hanoi, 2016
Hanoi, 2016

Furthermore, another big reason why I procrastinated was I made things too complicated. I also tried to be a perfectionist, which paralyzed me.

For example, I often fall victim to ‘paralysis by analysis.’ I would analyze a situation too much, consider too many options, and therefore become paralyzed and do nothing.

Instead, I try to KISS (keep it simple, stupid). I try to eliminate friction, by doing the simplest thing possible.

For example in my photography, I would get overwhelmed by thinking that I needed to work on some great photo project. Instead, I tried to make my photography as simple as possible: everyday, just try to take at least 1 photo. This liberated me, because it was easy to take 1 photo everyday. And whenever I reminded myself to just take 1 photo, I would inevitably take more.

Another technique which has helped me in my photography: using the simplest camera possible. For a while I was creatively blocked with shooting my film Leica MP. I didn’t have inspiration to shoot. Instead, I thought about using the simplest camera possible— my smartphone. So for a few days, I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to shoot with the Leica, and I could only shoot with my smartphone. I then felt less blocked, and started to shoot a lot on my phone. And a lot of my photos on my phone were actually better than photos I shot on my film Leica.

4. Shoot today as if it were your last

Sapa, 2017 eric kim landscape
Sapa, 2017

Another reason why I procrastinate in my photography is because I (wrongly) think I will live forever. Even though photography is very important to me, I always put it off until tomorrow. But who knows if I will live to see tomorrow? Who knows if I will step into a crack while walking the streets of Hanoi, twist my leg, and crack my skull against the pavement? Who knows if I’m in a taxi or Uber, and a drunk driver hits me, and I fly out of the window?

Therefore, I make it a reminder to myself: don’t procrastinate anything in photography which is important to me. I therefore don’t care anymore about what camera I shoot with, and no longer look at any camera review sites, blogs, or rumor sites. If I knew that I might die tomorrow, I use the best of the equipment I already have, to make the best photos I can today.

I also don’t make myself a slave to any form of photography. I know that when I only told myself I could shoot ‘street photography’ – I started to atrophy. I no longer was as curious or motivated. Instead, one day I had the realization — ‘Fuck it, I’m just going to photograph whatever I want.’ And at that moment, I felt reborn in my photography. I started to shoot trees, stuff I found on the ground, landscapes, and whatever subject-matter inspired me. And now, I feel more active in my photography than ever, because I have no longer defined myself or my photography.

5. Photograph what sparks joy in your heart

Cindy’s mom / Hoi An, 2017

You might (or might not) face the same issues that I do in my photography. But honestly, your life is short. You don’t know when you’re going to die. So why delay your pursuit of personal happiness in your photography? How much longer are you going to stall by being dissatisfied with the gear that you already have? How long as you going to keep your work offline, because you are insecure about sharing your work and putting it on the web?

If you truly want to live a good life as a photographer, you have to treat like today might be your last.

So photograph your loved ones, your partner, your friends, strangers you meet, or anything that ‘sparks joy’ in your heart. And share or upload your favorite photos, to share that joy with others.

6. Shoot for yourself

eric kim street photography hanoi
Hanoi, 2016

Above all, know that you’re shooting for yourself. Focus on making your photos more personal, and you will care less about what others will think.

Have confidence in yourself, because you are on the right path, and searching for answers.

But ultimately, only you have the answers for your photography. Don’t listen to me or anybody else. Find the truth for yourself. And never procrastinate the important things in your life.

Have faith in yourself.


Re-inspire yourself in photography:

Garden Grove, 2016 #cindyproject
Garden Grove, 2016 #cindyproject

If you’ve hit “photographer’s block” or need some inspiration, read these articles below:

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