Portrait of Cindy / Orange County, 2015

Memento Mori in Photography

Portrait of Cindy / Orange County, 2015
Portrait of Cindy / Orange County, 2015

In studying the (dead) masters of photography, it is a good reminder – I’m going to die, and so will you. So why waste your life and limited time on planet earth, not making great photos and art?

On photographing death

Cherry Blossoms in Seoul. A week after my Grandfather’s funeral, 2014
Cherry Blossoms in Seoul. A week after my Grandfather’s funeral, 2014

When I photographed my grandfather’s funeral, these are the thoughts I had.

  1. He accumulated all these honors and rewards while he was alive. Now he’s dead, these trophies are just pieces of glass and metal, collecting dust. Lesson: don’t care about awards or trophies while I’m alive. Nobody will care about my awards after I die.
  2. Funerals are good for families: they bring (once estranged) family members together. My family on my moms side had all this drama before my grandfather died. But once he died, this forced our family to open up the bridges with one another. It was good. Our family got closer after my grandfather died. Lesson: my funeral and death will be good. It will bring together my kids, family, loved ones, and friends. When I die, I want my funeral to be a big ass party, to celebrate life and happiness and joy. I don’t want my funeral to be sad.
  3. Keep making art. My grandfather’s passion was Chinese calligraphy. He painted until the day he died. For me, I want to keep shooting, writing, and exploring and creating art until I die.

Practical ways to find more happiness in photography

My mom. Busan, 2015

So some ideas:

  1. Your life is 100 years at best. Why waste your life and time making photos you’re not passionate about? Fuck what others think about your photos. Give a BIG FUCK what you think of your own photos.
  2. If today were your last day on earth, what would you shoot? What would you NOT shoot? And would you share those photos or not?
  3. The act of MAKING photos is more pleasurable than BUYING cameras and gear. Ultimately, happiness in photography is MAKING MORE PHOTOS.

If you died today, what photos would you want to be remembered for? Upload and share them in ERIC KIM FORUM.



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