How to Feel More Joy in Life with Photography

Dear friend,

I want to encourage you to experience more happiness and joy in life, using your camera as your tool.

Of course these are just personal remedies for myself. They probably won’t work for you. But even if one idea helps you, it is worth it.

I. Make more photos of things and people that we love

My mom in Marseille, making us fish soup.

To feel joy in life photograph what brings you joy.

For example, I love coffee. I like to photograph my espresso cup. To me, it is a reminder the joy of being alive and enjoying a simple cup of joe.

Cindy enjoying a cup of coffee at Glen and Sharon’s home in Vancouver.

I often photograph my coffee cups, yet never share them. Why? The point of photographing my coffee isn’t to make a good photo. But to appreciate the coffee, and help remind myself my joy of coffee.

Airbnb in Berlin

Another thing: I photograph Cindy. To me, it is appreciation of being alive with her. Because one day, she and I will both die. She might die before me (my rule is that I’m not allowed to die before her, so I don’t drink and drive, or text while walking). But I often get petty, and frustrated with Cindy. When I photograph her, I remind myself:

Eric, be appreciative that Cindy is still alive. Never be petty. Always be loving, patient, and photograph your joy and happiness together. Maybe to inspire others to appreciate their loved ones.

II. Walk more


Even now, I don’t photograph to make good photos. Rather, I treat photography as an excuse to walk.

It took me a long time to realize: but I love to walk. To me, walking is good for my hips, back, and mind.

When I walk, I feel less stress and anxiety. I feel more joy, because I see my fellow human beings, enjoying their lives. I see kids smiling and laughing and playing, which brings a smile on my face.

I see elderly folks chatting and gossiping about random neighborhood stuff. That puts a smile on my face.

I see new buildings being built. That makes me smile– I see humans building new things, which means human progress. That brings me joy.

Every once in a while when I’m walking on the streets, I see something that make some smile. I then photograph it. And sometimes it is a good photo. Most often the photo isn’t very good. But regardless, the action and process of walking and photographing brings me joy.

I love science fiction movies. In many of these movies, people are stuck on a spaceship. I wonder to myself:

It would suck being stuck on a spaceship. You would get so bored. You keep walking around the same ship.

So when I walk in public streets and see all these new sights, I feel freedom, and joy– perhaps the joy an eagle feels when soaring in the sky, and enjoying diverse landscapes.

III. Follow your visual curiosity

Today I was walking around and found a Japanese restaurant. I liked the aesthetics, so I entered. I sat down, and had a cup of coffee and tea.

There were some Japanese magazines, one with an old Nissan Fairlady Z on the cover. It is an old 1980s sports car, which I love. I love the proportions of the car, and it visually inspired me. Who knows, one day car design can inspire my photography. After all, a lot of car proportions and design proportions is tied to the “golden rule” or “Fibonacci spiral” in design philosophy.

Visually, I like zen minimalism. Going to nice coffee shops is an excuse for me to enjoy peaceful and simple aesthetics. I like wood, stone, brass, and other simple materials. The coffee is just a plus.

Visually, the world is so rich. Some visual arts that inspire me:

  • Bauhaus design (Germans are great)
  • Zen aesthetics (Kyoto is my favorite design city)
  • Scandinavian design (Volvo cars, Hasselblad, Stockholm city and furniture inspire me)
  • Film (Wes Anderson, Miyazaki films, anything produced by Bill Block, Disney movies) inspire me visually.
  • Watch design (Rolex, Casio, Seiko, Hublot)
  • Fashion (Y3, Hermes, Versace, Issey Miyake)
  • Car design (Rolls-Royce, Porsche)

To be honest, I don’t desire to own expensive cars, designer watches, or designer anything. To me, I’m just inspired by the aesthetics, proportions, materials, and design. I don’t need to own expensive designer stuff to enjoy it.

I often waltz into expensive designer stores with zero intention on buying anything. I just walk into there like it is a public museum– to enjoy how things look. Kind of how I like to enter expensive hotel lobby’s, to enjoy the architecture.

That is the secret I leaned: just inspire yourself with great design, music, and art. You don’t need to own it to appreciate it.


Of course there are many ways to experience joy in photography.

Some other ideas:

  1. Shoot street photography, and buy STREET NOTES to inspire you.
  2. Shoot film photography, for the novelty and excitement. Buy FILM NOTES to inspire you.
  3. Shoot personal photography to appreciate your loved ones. Buy PHOTO JOURNAL.

Photography should bring you more joy and happiness in life. If it isn’t, you’re doing something wrong.

So have fun, and create your own visual reality. Life is precious. Have fun, and appreciate everyday with joy, gratitude, and thanksgiving.

Life is fleeting.

Be strong,