eric kim street photography hanoi-5

How to Make More Meaningful Street Photography

eric kim street photography hanoi-5

Dear friend,

I think a lot of us are trying to find more meaning in our street photography.

I. Meaningful street photography

To find more meaning in your street photography, only make photos which evokes emotion in your heart and soul.

If you don’t feel the emotions in your own street photos, why shoot street photography?

II. Steel spine

eric kim street photography contact sheet hanoi lake
Note the best photo was the last photo

Also, seek to make street photographs that push yourself out of your comfort zone.

For me, shooting street photography has helped build a steel spine in me. For example, before I became a fearless street photographer, I was scared. Scared of strangers, taking risks and starting my own business.

Tokyo, 2016

But now, I have the confidence and courage to do whatever my soul tells me. I have the confidence to sell HAPTIC products, sell myself and workshops, and to sell and share my message to the community.

Also, I have the confidence now to start my own community: the ERIC KIM FORUM, a home of mutual understanding, love, and learning.

Downtown LA, 2015

To build more confidence in your street photography, start off by asking for permission. If you see someone you want to photograph, walk on over, introduce yourself, extend your hand, and compliment them. Then tell your subject why you want to photograph them.

For example,

Excuse me sir, I think you look badass. Do you mind if I made a few portraits of you?

A good assignment from STREET NOTES: try to get 10 people to reject your request of shooting a street portrait. This will help you build a steel spine.

III. .7 meters

Eric kim hanoi street photography
Hanoi, 2017

.7 meters, or 3 feet, is a good distance. Not just for street photography, but human connection and interaction.

In modern society we have lost our social backbone. We are afraid of “bothering” others, making small talk, or treating others like human beings– with a life just as complicated and stressful as yours.

eric kim grandma
My grandma / Seoul, 2017

I try to treat everyone I meet in the streets like my superior. For example, I call the bus driver “boss”. I treat waiters and baristas as superior to me. It keeps me humble, but also acknowledges their humanness.

A question I like to ask people:

What is your life story?

Or from my friend Anne from Berlin:

What is your dream?

By asking these open ended questions, you give others the opportunity to share their life story and dreams. Honestly, 99% of people I ask this question to always love to answer it, even though it makes them feel foolish and childlike.

Tokyo, 2017

But we need to take ourselves less seriously. Photography is just playing. Except instead of using LEGO bricks, we use our camera to play with the blocks of reality.

IV. Create your own reality

Downtown LA, 2011 by eric kim street photography
Downtown LA, 2011

For more street photography motivation, buy a Ricoh GR II camera, and an ERIC KIM STRAP.

And know that street photography has no boundaries or definitions.

Make your own definition of street photography, and ignore everyone else– especially ERIC KIM.


Street Photography 101 >

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