Dear friend,

What does Eric Kim belive in? ZEN CAPITALISM.

Okay to start off, I think I’m the next Steve Jobs. I have been able to integrate street photography, zen, consumerism, capitalism, marketing, advertising, entrepreneurship, open source, free, and socialism.

Which made me realize:

I’m a Zen Capitalist.

I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Hanoi, 2016

My life story: Eric Kim grew up poor in America. Yet he received much government and American subsidies to succeed at UCLA and public school. I’m also an Eagle Boy Scout (true story). I also believe in capitalism, marketing, yet I also believe in socialism (I studied Sociology).

Steve Jobs was a genius because he mixed Zen aesthetic with computers. Before Steve, computers were ugly and sucked. I remember how much my first Acer Pentium I with “MMX” technology and a turbo button performed; blue screen of death all the time. Windows sucked.

Steve Jobs was like a zen techno monk, driving nice Mercedes cars, yet wearing the same Issey Miyake black turtleneck everyday (he had 100 identical ones made). Steve loved beautiful Zen aesthetic, and found Kyoto to be a spiritual home (same as me).

I want to empower people to fulfill their personal maximum potential, then supercede it.

I’m following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs, because I do believe in the American dream, and I do believe in empowering the masses. I love democracy, freedom of speech, and open and free information. I honestly don’t think there is anyone else out there who has written as many free photography books, blog posts, and information as I have.

My drive:

I grew up poor, and information and role models empowered me. The government helped me. And now it is my duty to give back to society.

Fuck my needs, all I care about my virtuous deeds.

I’ve studied a lot of Stoicism (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Publius Syrus, Nassim Taleb, Diogenes are my heroes).

I loved Seneca the most: because he was virtuous, while also being filthy rich. Yet he didn’t let the money corrupt him.

For me, I want to become rich, make a lot of money, and use that tool to empower society.

Truth in contradictions

Hanoi, 2017

To Ms, Zen and Capitalism are compatible.

Zen seeks simplicity and integration of nature. Tesla and Elon Musk good example: Tesla owns the entire integrated market for their electric cars (Tesla showroom, Tesla supercharger network, and they own the battery factories).

Steve Jobs: made well built Apple devices, with the “walled garden” of ios and the app store, and everything “just works.”

Innovation: Subtracting the Superfluous

Hanoi, 2017 #cindyproject

In photography, Leica is the best example of Zen photography tools (which are expensive).

Leica has the balls to make a monochrome only camera. The huevos to make a digital camera without an LCD screen. The guts to continue to make digital cameras without autofocus. It seems their business is doing well.

The Leica camera is the ultimate zen camera. Stripped of the superfluous. Only what you need to make photos. To me, the Leica MA (film) is the zenith of a zen photography camera. No meter, no batteries, only mechanical bliss.

Digital cameras, the Ricoh GR is perfect. No need for zoom or interchangeable lens. Because you cannot change the lens, the body is slimmer. Kind of how the MacBook is so thin- you cannot replace the parts. Thinness, lightness, is beautiful.


What Steve Jobs did was brilliant in his Apple comeback: he slashed 80% of superluous projects and products at Apple. He gave the company FOCUS.

In capitalism, we are always in a rush to push out more shitty products. But Zen Capitalism says:

Let’s make a few good products, and make them last for a long time.

Old iPhones still work well. All Android phones become shitty and slow after a year or two.

Which is great with Zen consumerism:

Buy a free high quality (expensive) things, but plan on owning them for at least a decade.



How does ERIC KIM live? A check list for me:

  1. I own a film Leica MP and 35mm f2 Summicron ASPH lens that will never need to be “upgraded.” I can give it to my future kids.
  2. If I buy a laptop, I always max it out, to squeeze the maximum life out of it (hopefully at least 5 years). And I’m loyal to MacBook laptops.
  3. If I want to buy anything, I try to buy things that are somewhat “future proof”. My all black outfit won’t become out of style soon, like neon pink LA tank tops or Neon Green Nike shoes.
  4. With a car, I’d prefer to own a car I can drive at least 10 years (I’m a huge fan of Toyota Prius). The hybrid between gas and electricity will last longer than a pure electric car (infrastructure for charging still poor knowing America).
  5. Any digital device I buy: maximum space, processor, and specifications. I want to use it as long as possible, and not need to fall victim to the “upgrade treadmill”.

Let’s be real.

To sum up, I am not advocating to own nothing (most Buddhist and Zen thought).

Rather: own a few high-quality goods that bring you joy, and will last a long time.


For my business, I have been trying to teach fewer workshops. Better to fill a few workshops, than over saturate myself with a too hectic schedule.

For HAPTIC INDUSTRIES products, we are always trying to innovate and make new tools, yet when we make it, we think:

Is this ERIC KIM STRAP going to last at least 10 years?

Evergreen information

Even with blogging, I try to write things that will be as useful today, as 50 years from now.

Photography will always exist. But rather than wasting time with camera reviews that get outdated in 6 months, I prefer to focus on photography education that will last a lifetime. Photography principles that are timeless.

So the lesson is this:

Avoid trends.

Focus on what you think will last. Become classic. And will outlive you.


To sum up, some things to consider:

  1. If you’re a business, do you make the purchasing decision of your consumer easy? For example, having too many color options is stressful and not compassionate for the consumer. I preferred when the iPhone was only available in black or white. Better yet, when there was only one iPhone size (the 4 inch version Steve Jobs deemed perfect).
  2. Are you creating timeless goods and products? Or just churning stuff out to maximize profits?
  3. Do you fall victim to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and fall victim to the hype of always owning the newest and “best”?

Dicuss your thoughts on ERIC KIM FORUM.



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