How to Be a Passionate Photographer

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Dear friend,

I’m very passionate about photography and helping you– why, and does it really matter to be a “passionate” photographer?


First of all, there is a difference between the word “passion” and “enthusiasm”.

When we say “passion”, we actually mean enthusiasm.

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Passion is pain, dying, and death. That is why the crucifixion of Jesus is called the “passion” of the Christ.

Whereas enthusiasm comes from the Greek word “enthous” — which means inspired or possessed by a god.

I don’t know about you, but my enthusiasm comes from the fact that I want to help people. I am actually passionate about helping others– I would probably die for this shit.

Everyday, I push myself 120%. I drink a shitload of coffee, don’t eat breakfast or lunch, so I can be more productive as a blogger and teacher, to hopefully create more information that can help more people. Im a beast.

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I sleep horribly. I have bags under my eyes. I haven’t seen the back of my eyelids in a while. I collapse from work exhaustion in the evening. I pass out. I wake up, feel like shit, but after a coffee, I’m alive again.

So my lifestyle is obviously not for you. You gotta do what is right for you.

Passion is overrated.

Okay, so for clarity sake; I’ll just say passion to mean enthusiasm. In American English, they mean the same thing.

You can have several passions in life. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

For example, my passion(s) include:

  • Teaching (workshop, blogging, YouTube lectures)
  • Stoic philosophy (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius)
  • Zen aesthetics (Going to Kyoto, Steve Jobs design, Apple)
  • French literature (Balzac, Voltaire, Montaigne)
  • Latin poetry (Horace, Virgil)
  • Technology (open source, information, tinkering)
  • Photography (street photography, personal photography, self portraits)
  • Entrepreneurship (making money, business, marketing, branding)
  • Social media (useful parts of it, and also the dangers of it)
  • Sociology (how to build online communities)
  • Happiness (how to help others creatively flourish, find satisfaction, and find a state of “flow”)
  • Empowerment (deadlifting, overcome adversity, shooting street photography without fear)

I can go on but I won’t bore you.

So for me, ERIC KIM is just a mashup of all these different passions. I’m like a promiscuous honey bee: I suck the nectar out of all the creative flowers I come across. Then over the years, I secrete my own unique honey.

Lesson: there is only one of you in the universe and planet earth. Combine all your many passions, to make yourself a more unique photographer.

Do more of what you like to do

To get better as a photographer, shoot more. Study more photography.

Do less of what you don’t like to do. Do less passive entertainment. Less Netflix, more walking around the block after work and shooting street photos.

Less time on tech blogs, more time making digital illustrations and sharing them on your own personal blog.

A practical homework assignment: uninstall one app from your phone everyday. Eventually, you’ll only have the few essential apps you need to create art.

For me, on this iPad, I only have IA WRITER, and Ulysses to write. I have all my photos on my server. That means, fewer distractions, and more creative output.

Funny enough, I blog a lot, but read very few blogs. I am trying to limit my information intake to 20%, and making my creative output 80%, based on the 80/20 Pareto principle.

The more I create and produce, the happier I am.

I prefer to shoot photos, rather than looking at the photos of others. In terms of my inspirations, I limit it to only three master photographers: Josef Koudelka, Richard Avedon, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Homework assignment #2: find your inner-3 inspirational photographers, and stick with them. Know their work inside and out. Read all their books, interviews, and buy their art. Surround yourself with then, and emulate them.


To follow your passion in photography, know who you are inspired by: and then stick true to your own creative vision.

See your photography mentors as guides, not masters. Become your own master in photography, and paint your own reality.

Be strong,

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