Dear friend,

I think a lot of us are trying to find more meaning and purpose in our lives– and using photography as a tool for self-knowledge and discovery.

I. Crowd sourcing my self esteem.

My biggest problem was I tried to find fulfillment in my photography by seeking affirmation in my photography from others via social media — via how many favorites I got on Flickr, Likes on Facebook and Instagram, and page views on this blog.

I “quantified” my progress in my photography through these superficial markers of “success”. But no matter how many likes I got, I never felt fulfilled.

II. Do I like my own photos?

I found true fulfillment in my photography when I started to make photos for myself.

For example, before sharing any photo now, I look at it and ask myself:

Do I like my own photo?

My new rule: never share a photo that I personally don’t like.

III. Deleting my Instagram was the best thing I ever did.

One thing that helped me care less about what others thought of me and my photos was stopping to use social media. I deleted my Instagram. Now I follow my own gut whether the photos are good or not, instead of whether I optimized posting my 1 photo a day, precisely at noon pacific time.

No longer being a slave to social media, I feel more freedom and happiness. Photography blogging is the best. I recommend you to start one by paying for it, about $10 a month on bluehost.com and WordPress.org. You can be more creative, by customizing your photos with text, videos, and audio. You can post multiple photos, in whatever order you want.

You will be happier as a photographer, because you have more freedom how to display your photos.

In Instagram and Facebook, you are trapped. You have to only display photos however the platform dictates. You cannot change the order of your photos in Instagram; they are shown in reverse chronological order (newest photos at the top).

IV. I don’t like being a slave to social media.

My other gripe about social media is that you cannot disable whether you see likes, or comment, or not. That is less personal freedom.

I’m a fan of VSCO and their mobile sharing platform, at least the interface is more focused on sharing your work, than trying to become a slave to get more likes or comments or followers.

V. Welcome to STREET CLUB.

I found more fulfillment in photography by building communities. For example, Cindy and I made the ERIC KIM FORUM; a new home for photographers, to get honest feedback on photos, and a community of mutual learning– not just getting pointless likes and more followers.

Enroll in STREET CLUB >

I also found more personal fulfillment, shooting photos of Cindy, and those I love. I also started to find more fulfillment by making more self portraits of myself, “artistic selfies”. I like the idea:

Honor thy selfie.

VI. Make meaningful photos even in a boring suburb.

Also, I found more fulfillment photographing everyday life, even not street photos, instead of wanting to always shoot in an urban area. I also care less about traveling now for the sake of it. Which means, I can make meaningful photos even in the suburbs, at a Costco, or In and Out burger.

VII. Make more photos.

I also care less about the photography equipment I use. Of course I still care, but I just care less.

Which means, less worries about my camera, and more focus on making photos that are meaningful to me.

VIII. Program mode is great.

Also, caring less about technical settings has helped me. For example, I just shoot all my digital photos on center point autofocus, auto high ISO, program (P) mode. I just point and click. Or, I just:

Set it and forget it!

IX. JUST SHOOT IT.

Also now, I doubt myself less. I just do it like Nike:

JUST SHOOT IT.

Don’t over-think your photography. Follow your gut and intuition. I see street photography as a zen meditative experience, to stop thinking and to channel your inner child.

X. BUY PHOTO JOURNAL

Of course, these are my personal remedies to finding more personal meaning in my photography.

To find more personal meaning in your photography, I recommend picking up a copy of PHOTO JOURNAL; to journal about why you make photos, and for whom you shoot your photos for. PHOTO JOURNAL won’t make you a better photographer, but it will make you a more self-reflective photographer. And I created PHOTO JOURNAL with Cindy, as a guide that I wish I had five years ago.

XII. Do you like your own photos?

To sum up, always ask yourself whether you like the photo or not before sharing it.

Because if you don’t like the photo, why try to fool others?

Be strong,
Eric


Personal Photography

eric kim street photography hanoi-0002040 cindy project

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