Dear friend,

You only live once. Why live it according to the rules of others and society?

You are already you.

You don’t need permission. You have the power to just do it, right now.

You don’t need permission to be a photographer. Just go out, and make photos which brings you personal meaning. Ignore elitist assholes who say,

Just because you have an iPhone doesn’t mean you’re a photographer.

Everyone is already a photographer. Your mom is a photographer. If you have a curiosity in making images, you are a photographer.

So don’t let nobody put you inside a little box. And certainly don’t put yourself into a box.

Listen to yourself.

Often we think we need permission from others before we take a risk.

We ask our parents if it is okay that we pursue our dreams in life, or choose a major in college.

We don’t have confidence in ourselves. We ask the advice of others, because if we follow their advice and fail, we have someone to blame.

Do you know who you are?

If you ask for permission or you ask the opinion of others, you are betraying yourself.

If you know what you really are passionate about in life, why do you need to ask for the opinion of others?

You don’t need to ask others whether your photos are good or not. Just look at your own photos and ask yourself:

Do I like my own photos or not?

Why I didn’t believe in myself (at first)

Why do we lack self-confidence?

It is because of fear. Fear of looking stupid in case we fail. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I was afraid of failure. If I got anything less than an “A” in school, I was afraid of disappointing my parents.

As I got older, I started to rebel. The rules of society seemed like bullshit to me. I started to follow my own heart, and started to eschew societal norms. I studied sociology in school, to further my own self-learning, and self-growth.

I hit another roadblock when I got my first office job, straight out of college. I no longer had the freedom of college. I became the slave of email, “inbox zero”, and pleasing my company. I wanted to take more risks.

I stopped asking for permission. I followed the advice:

It is better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.

I wanted to help my buddy Jay, my younger friend. I hired him as an intern, without asking my boss. My boss found out afterwards, and I got in trouble. But not enough trouble that I would get fired. And ultimately, Jay blossomed, got work experience in this online technology space, and prospered. I’m glad I took a risk of just getting him as an intern, without asking permission.

I also found out as a blogger, I hate editors. Editors are just like road-blocks in the freeway. And I like to drive my Lamborghini at 500mph, no brakes.

I like to publish. I hate editing. I hated feeling “throttled” by editors, who wanted to make subtle changes in my text. Often, the changes were minor, and didn’t change the overall message of my text.

So now, I no longer need an editor. I edit myself, before I type words onto the digital screen.

Obviously, if Cindy give some feedback, and suggestions, I go back and edit old blog posts. But now, I no longer need “permission” from another person before I hit publish.

Practical advice

Obviously if you have a job, it is not in your best interest to get fired. But my suggestion:

Take the maximum risks in your job, without getting fired.

You know the boundary. Push that boundary, and see how far you can take things. And perhaps, even getting fired might be a good thing for your career and future.

How to take advantage of your day job

If you want to become an entrepreneur and start your own business, don’t quit your day job. Rather,

Do the minimum possible work at your job without getting fired.

For myself, when I had a job as an online community manager at ehow.com, part of Demand Media, I hustled my ass off. I worked hard to innovate but I hated not being heard. One day I was like “fuck this”– and I started to care less about my job, and just put in the hours, and used all my free time to build the ERIC KIM EMPIRE.

I did my job as quickly and efficiently as possible. I usually finished my days work in about 3-4 hours. For the next 3-4 hours, I would build social media connections. I would read blog posts on social media, to learn. I would ask my co-workers for advice on life, business, saving money, programming, web design, etc. I played a lot of ping pong too, and got really good.

My master plan was to do my passion (this blog) full time. I had no idea how I would do that. But I hustled.

I usually woke up at around 7:30am, blog for an hour, bike to work, and get in around 10-10:30am. I would hustle until lunch, and eat lunch for an hour with my friends at work. After work, I would play ping pong, and do a little more work. Then the rest of the day, I would be plotting on building my own business. I would often escape the office for 15 minute street photography breaks. And after work at 7pm, I would shoot a little street photography around the office neighborhood. Some of my best street photos from 2011 were just a ten minute walk from my office.

Getting laid off was the best thing ever.

I was lucky enough to get made redundant from my company. God blessed me, to pursue my passion: photography blogging.

When I got made redundant, I planned on making a living from teaching workshops and selling shirts. Eventually, workshops became my bread and butter– 90% of my income.

6 years laters (2011-2017), and 2,700+ blog posts later, I’m #1 on Google for “street photography.” I achieved my dream of buying a Leica, traveling the world, and saving more than 100 racks in my savings. I broke the $200,000 a year income ceiling (thank you Cindy), and now I have “fuck you money”– enough money to do whatever I want.

Thank you

The only way I was able to become “successful” were:

  1. Hustle (working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  2. Supreme self-confidence (knowing that I couldn’t fail)
  3. Opportunity (being born American, and staring to blog when photography blogging wasn’t that big)
  4. God
  5. Mentors and guides

Above all, I didn’t ask nobody for permission. I said fuck you to the gatekeepers, and made my own platform (this blog).

You shouldn’t do the same as me, because you are not me. But I do recommend you to make your own photography blog. Go to 1and1.com, make a WordPress.org blog, and start blogging about yourself, your own photos, and advice. Build your empire, one blog post a time. If you write 2,000 blog posts, you will become “successful”.

Love risk-taking

Above all, with art, photography, and life: never ask for permission. Just do it. Deal with the consequences afterwards.

The more risks you take in life, the more you will win.

Be strong,
Eric


Photography Entrepreneurship 101

ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP // Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

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