Cindy picture of ERIC sleeping in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy picture of ERIC sleeping in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017

Photography ain’t a zero-sum game or competition. Meaning, there are no “winners” or “losers” in photography.

Portrait of ERIC in Yukata by Cindy.
Portrait of ERIC in Yukata by Cindy.

The problem: we are constantly peering into the lives of other photographers and people via social media. It is like looking at the celebrity gossip or tabloids— we are more interested in the lives of others instead of focusing on our own lives.

Trust me, I often get envious of the lives and pictures of other photographers. But why? It makes no logical sense.

For me, when I saw someone else succeeding, I thought it meant I was losing.

Of course, this is a false premise. Why? According to the economic ideology of ERIC KIM, I believe the economic pie is expanding for everyone, via new technology (internet, lower cost of cameras, proliferation of phone cameras, and expanding population).

There is enough pizza for everybody!

Coin Laundry. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Coin Laundry. Uji, Kyoto 2017

To use a real life example, imagine a large Pizza from Dominos. Let us say it has 10 slices of pizza.

In real life, if you eat 1 slice, that means I have 1 less slice of pizza to potentially eat.

According to my economic theory, imagine JESUS and the story of the bread and fish. Whenever his disciples divided the bread and fish, it multiplied. Everyone was satisfied abundantly, with tons of left over.

I think with modern technology, imagine a never-ending pizza. Whenever you “split” a pizza, you miraculously got MORE SLICES of pizza.

Therefore, if you see someone enjoying a slice of pizza, don’t think that he somehow “stole” that slice of pizza from you. You will get your slice of pizza too. You will BOTH have access to AS MANY slices of Pizza you both desire. Preferably with deep-fried pork and ginger on top.

Taking it back to photography

Ryokan with Cindy. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Ryokan with Cindy. Uji, Kyoto 2017

Never compare yourself to another photographer, because there is nothing to compare.

Don’t imagine you can try to “one up” the other photographer by the number of zeroes or commas in your bank account, the number of inches of your phallus size or breast size, or by how expensive your watch or bag is.

But we still compare ourselves with other photographers. We compare social media follower and like numbers. We somehow think that if a person follows your “rival” they won’t follow you. But in truth, one individual can follow MANY people. Meaning, someone can follow BOTH YOU and your “rival.”

Why do so many people hate ERIC KIM?

Personal story: I used to get anonymous trolls, hateful comments, about my workshops. When I uncovered the identity of some of these trolls, I actually found out that they were leaving hateful comments about me, my legitimacy, and workshops… because THEY were also hosting workshops of their own.

To clarify, one “hater”/“troll” was hosting his own workshops, and saw me as competition. Therefore, he thought by dragging me down and burning my credibility would somehow have other people sign up for his workshop. He saw the world in a zero-sum game. That if a student signed up for an ERIC KIM WORKSHOP, that same student wouldn’t sign up for his workshop.

It is true that a student can only sign up for one weekend workshop at a time. Yet, most workshop students I know attend SEVERAL workshops. So actually, it makes no sense to see other photographers as “competition.”

Empower others, and everyone prospers

Eric Kim selfie.

This is why I have no problem promoting the workshops of other photographers. Why? It is a sign of confidence to me, and also is a sign to my followers that:

ERIC KIM is so confident in himself, that he doesn’t worry with other photographers “stealing” potential students away.

To clarify, I advocate openness, generosity, and mutual support amongst ALL of us in photography.

Even though photography is more respected today than in the past, photographers are still seen as second class citizens, in the “art world.” Painters seem to get all the fame and glory.

So doesn’t it make sense for us… as a community of disadvantaged photographers… to band and unite together, and for all of us to lift each other up, and empower one another? Shouldn’t all photographers be helping all other photographers? I think so.

This is why I give away my ebooks for free. This is why I give away my Lightroom presets for free. Why? Because the more that I can help photographers, the more the entire field and genre of photography can grow, evolve, as a species. And to be honest, the more I help empower other photographers, the more I personally gain.

The more I help others, the more I receive in return.

And the more that I receive in return, the more I can continually help other photographers. It is a positive feedback loop, where EVERYONE WINS!

New Orleans, 2017.
New Orleans, 2017.

Who are the losers?

Cindy with finger on forehead. On the patio of our ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy with finger on forehead. On the patio of our ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017

There are no losers in the field of photography. We only lose when we fall victim to envy, self-doubt, self-pity, jealousy, or other negative and petty emotions.

Now, when I see my fellow photography peers winning awards and succeeding, I feel like I’m also winning. Why? Other photographers, when they win… they drive the entire genre and field of photography forward. They make the general public see photography as more legitimate. So when Andreas Gursky sells photos for over a million bucks, we should ALL REJOICE in photography… why? Because he has set the precedent that any of us can theoretically earn $1 million dollars on a single photo. Don’t feel even an ounce or iota of jealousy or envy from “successful” photographers. If anything, let it inspire us.

Conclusion: We are one single photographic community and family

Sorry friend, I got off topic and ranty, as always.

To sum up, we are all brothers and sisters in this family of photography. We are all the same species, and part of the same tribe.

  1. Don’t envy any other photographer. His or her success also means your success.
  2. Everyone has a different life. A photographer might make great pictures, but has a horrible family life. To be frank, I would prefer to have a good family life over having good pictures.
  3. Use the success and great imagery of other photographers to INSPIRE YOU to take your own photography to the next level. Never let the greatness of another photographer discourage you into thinking, “I’ll never be as good as that photographer.” Rather think to yourself: “That Photographer made such good pictures with old and crappy gear. I have access to new tools and technology. I can, and WILL become EVEN BETTER than that master photographer!”
Color Cindy and Scissors. Saigon, 2017.
Color Cindy and Scissors. Saigon, 2017.

For a supportive and empowering photography community, join ERIC KIM FORUM and ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE.

BE STRONG,
ERIC

PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHY 101