MASTERS: First Edition Book by HAPTICPRESS

Dear friend,

I think photography and pictures should be the great stimulus to our life.

Sunset in Kyoto, 2017

I am addicted to coffee, tea, and caffeine. Why? It is a STIMULUS to my life.

I love hip hop music, and empowering music– why? It is a STIMULUS to my life.

Great art, great music, and great pictures STIMULATE me to CREATE MORE ART!

Photography helps me love life more.

Cindy working on her translation work. Kyoto, 2017.

I know the feeling of apathy, of ‘ennui’, and the feeling of depression– feeling caged up in a fluorescent-lit office. I know the feeling of not having a feeling of power, control, or autonomy in my life.

For me, photography gave me great confidence, excitement, and hope in life. Photography gave me an artistic STIMULUS to my life– I devoted so much of my free time researching images, studying the masters of photography, studying composition, and what makes a great picture. The more I studied, and consumed great art– the more empowered I was. The more EXCITED I was living my life. The more optimism, joy, and future-forward thinking I had in life.

Photography gave me more MOTIVATION to living, and to life in general.

Photography should give you hope and optimism

Cindy doing yoga in the living room of our Airbnb. Kyoto, 2017

There is enough doom and gloom in life. Why not add more JOY, excitement, and optimism to your life?

The secret to being a more productive artist: find more joy, appreciation, and happiness in the mundane, everyday parts of life. To NOTICE, and find beauty in even the smallest things in life.

Cindy color. Kyoto, 2017

I’ve been shooting a lot of JPEG on my RICOH GR II recently (processing with ERIC KIM PRESETS), and it has been amazing. Why? Shooting JPEG has helped simplify my life– I shoot more frequently, and care less about all the technical details. I keep the camera in ‘P’ (program) mode, and I just point and click.

Cindy’s arm. Kyoto, 2017

The fun thing — I’ve become more CARELESS and free in my photography. I’m pointing and clicking a lot more– and shooting a lot more. Often, more randomly. More motion blur. Caring less about perfect composition. Tilting my camera (DUTCH ANGLE) and just having fun. I’m visually exploring the world around me, mediated through my ‘Positive Film’ JPEG preset on the Ricoh GR II — and even adding more saturation and contrast. I love how the pictures look– the juicy colors STIMULATE me to live more, to explore more, and to have more fun in life.

Grocery store photography

Head of lettuce, in grocery store. Kyoto, 2017

Everyday in Kyoto, Cindy and I go to ‘Frescos’ (Japanese grocery store) — and I’ve been having a ton of fun just being a tourist, and making photos in a grocery store. There is a lot to shoot.

It kind of is fun– like Andreas Gursky — a critique on modern-day consumerism, consumption.

It actually is quite exciting for me– because shooting in a grocery store has liberated me. Why? The realization:

You can make fun and interesting photographs, anywhere, and anytime. You just gotta look closely enough.

Restaurant photography

I’ve also just kept my Ricoh GR II around my neck, and shooting inside restaurants– another good place to make pictures. People don’t really pay attention. Often, you can get more interesting photographs inside restaurants, than outside on the streets. Why? People are more relaxed, more expressive, and often interacting with friends, family, or others.

The color red (color of blood)

The colors that stimulate me the most in photography include the BOLD and AGGRESSIVE colors– like RED, which reminds me the color of blood:

Red texture. Kyoto, 2017.
Cindy at work at cafe, with red light. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy and red curtain. Kyoto, 2017

Shot through the reflection of an aluminum espresso machine. Kyoto selfie with Cindy. Reflection, 2017
Portrait of Cindy, Uji 2017
Kyoto, 2017

Assignment: Shoot the color RED

If you want to shoot more color pictures, try to focus on the color red. I see it everywhere in my work. It draws my eyes the most, and excites me.

Red hair on red background. Kodak Portra 400 with flash. London, 2014.
London, 2013

Practical advice

Only consume art which excites you, which stimulates you. Consume great art, which COMPELS and ENCOURAGES you to create more of your own art.

If art makes you sad, depressed, or nihilistic towards life– cut it away, ruthlessly. Avoid any art that will eat away at your soul, like cancer.

Don’t limit yourself to just photographers. Study all art. My current inspiration is László Moholy-Nagy — with his bold use of lines, colors, and compositions — which inspires me to make more compositional powerful images:

László Moholy-Nagy

Another tip– watch great CINEMA, and analyze the cinematography, the angles, the compositions. I’m currently super-inspired by Akira Kurosawa, the master, especially his film ‘Seven Samurai’:

KUROSAWA x KIM / Seven Samurai

How my eye travels. KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai

Now with their clothes added.
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Boy in bed of flowers

Lastly, never stop having confidence in yourself. Always make pictures, push yourself towards personal grandeur in photography, and I also encourage you to pick up a copy of MASTERS VOLUME I — to draw upon timeless inspiration from the masters from the past. Not to be their slave, but to learn from them– and to have their work STIMULATE you to make more of your own work.

Read more: Why I study the masters of photography


What stimulates or inspires you to make art? Share your opinion in ERIC KIM FORUM.

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