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How to Empower Yourself through Street Photography

Dear friend,

If you’ve ever felt afraid, scared or shitty– know that street photography can empower you.

Street Photography is Applied Stoic Philosophy.

To be honest, street photography is my way of life.

Street photography is democratic. Anyone and everyone can shoot it.

Street photography helps you build a steel spine. You overcome your personal fears in life, which is manifested in a practical activity (taking photos of strangers).

You can use any camera in street photography. The best street photographers use smartphones.

Street photography can be shot anywhere. You can do it during your commute, in your neighborhood, during your office lunch break, after work, while traveling, or even at the mall or at Costco.

Why I love street photography.

Before I started to shoot street photography, I felt scared, meek, and afraid.

I wanted to make photos of strangers, because I felt a deep human connection with them. But whenever I wanted to make a photo, I felt paralyzed with fear. And I felt this fear is what paralyzed me in other forms of life.

I wanted to start my own company, but I was paralyzed with fear. I wanted to ask out girls on dates, but I was too afraid of being rejected. I wanted to push forth my ideas in my company, but I was afraid that people would look down on me, or think I was stupid.

To be frank, even in the early days of this blog, I wanted to please everyone. I had a comments section, and wanted to make everyone like me. Whenever people said negative things about me, I shriveled. I died a little inside. I lost my inner power.

You’re wolverine.

To me, stoicism has taught me how to become a real life wolverine. Others can shoot bullets at me, and they will go through me. I will feel my flesh burning. Yet, I will not die. I will regenerate.

In street photography, whenever I get someone to tell me to fuck off, or someone who yells at me, threatens to call the cops at me, or people who have tried to grab my camera and shove me, I feel stronger.

What doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger. – Nietzsche

The Eric Kim version:

What kills me makes me stronger.

Imagine Jesus being crucified. He dies, then rises again.

The same is you. You will be crucified, except in today’s world through words, through empty threats and even threats of pain. But when you are killed, you will rise again.

You got the key.

We all have the inner power inside our hearts. We are all wild animals inside. Yet we have been made tame by society, by our bosses, by familial responsibilities, by fear of negative judgement from our friends and peers.

But I say, you already have the keys to success, to your confidence. You just need to unlock the keys in your heart.

In Dragon Ball Z (anime), characters could go “Super Saiyan” which meant going to “beast mode”. They would channel their inner power, make their hair go blonde, and then become 100x stronger, faster and more badass.

You have the power to go Super Saiyan, or beast mode. You just need to believe in yourself.

Some ideas on how to empower yourself through street photography:

I. Love rejection

The first step, learn to love rejection.

In street photography, it is like driving a car. Sooner or later you will get into a minor accident. It comes with the territory.

Imagine trying to be a world class boxer, like Manny Pacman. Can you become a world class boxer without getting hit? No. You will get hit, knocked out, whatever- but you will rise superior to the attacks of others. You will learn to dodge, weave, and learn how to take a punch without complaining.

In street photography, learn to love to get rejected. When someone tells you to fuck off, smile, and say thank you for your time. Have a great day!

In street photography, learn to ask for permission, but also to shoot without permission. I think in photography and life, we need to have the power to do both.

When asking for permission, try to get 10 people to reject you. This is called the “Eric Kim 10 No Challenge.”

When shooting without permission, don’t make eye contact. Then try to take at least 10 photos of a person, and after they notice you, then make eye contact and say, “You look cool!” And smile.

II. Buy STREET NOTES

Yigit Altay – Netherlands // STREET NOTES

This blog post is an advertisement for STREET NOTES, printed by HAPTIC and Cindy.

I genuinely believe that if you bought a copy, you would feel more confident and empowered. And buy 3 copies for your friends, and get them to buy 3 copies for their friends, and we can create a street photography pyramid (or “multi marketing” scheme, like Amway).

No but real talk, STREET NOTES isn’t about street photography. It is a life philosophy of overcoming your personal fears, and getting closer (physically and emotionally closer) with strangers.

I don’t know about you, but I am a humanist. If you’re interested in street photography, you are also probably a humanist. Which means, you love human beings for the sake of it.

One challenge from STREET NOTES: the one arm length challenge. Which means for a month, you can only take photos of people or things one arm length away, or closer. That is around .7 meters. So prefocus your camera to .7 meters in manual focusing mode, and don’t touch you focusing for a month. This will force you to get closer to your subjects, and engage them in conversation, and life.

Ask them open ended questions like, “What is your life story?” Or “What is your dream in life?”

And also realize all the information in STREET NOTES is freely available on this blog. But it is a distilled version and Cindy and I believe in books. We love books, because it can fit in your back pocket, during your commute.

Look at STREET NOTES during your commute, instead of looking at your phone. Uninstall Instagram from your phone and find inspiration in STREET NOTES. Switch your phone to airplane mode, and shoot street photos with it. You got this.

BUY STREET NOTES >

III. Only use your phone

I’m a huge fan of shooting with your phone. Why? It is always with you in your front pocket. I also consider the iPhone the holy grail of photography– you can shoot, edit, and share your photos all in one device. Also, you can buy an iPhone SE for only $399 (unlocked), which has the same camera as the iPhone 6s. Good enough for 99% of us street photographers.

The biggest mistake we make as street photographers is getting big ass cameras. DSLRs are not good for street photography, because they are too big, and difficult to carry with you on a daily basis. Just buy a RICOH GR II, or use your phone.

Eric kim street photography

Set your camera to fully automatic, and even use jpeg. Whatever. Just capture the moment, the most important thing.

I’ve missed so many decisive moments because I hesitated, because I was worried about my technical settings.

In street photography, our mantra should be:

When in doubt, click.

Welcome to STREET CLUB.

Like Tyler Durden from FIGHT CLUB, I am starting a cult. It is called STREET CLUB. It is a fun community for us to build one another up.

CINDY created the ERIC KIM FORUM, as a place to fix the problem of social media and photo communities. If we use Facebook or Instagram, we are slaves to their platform. If you use the ERIC KIM FORUM, you can share your photos, your links to your blog, and it is a little less shitty of a platform than other forums online.

STREET CLUB isn’t about talking shit, about harming others, or putting others down. Rather, it is about empowering one another.

Imagine STREET CLUB as a dinner table. We are all starving to death. We all have long spoons. And we feed one another.

So friend, I believe in you to empower yourself, and your fellow streettogs. Use street photography as a philosophical tool, to become the best version of yourself, to conquer all your fears, and to meet fellow passionate peers, to meet up, enjoy beers, and to live joyfully and cheerfully, and gleefully, to become the best version of you and me.

STREET CLUB

Welcome friend.

JOIN STREET CLUB >

JOIN ERIC KIM FORUM >

Be strong,
Eric

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