Silhouette of men in suits, lined up. Ueno, Tokyo 2017

Shoot Freely!

Silhouette of men in suits, lined up. Ueno, Tokyo 2017
Silhouette of men in suits, lined up. Ueno, Tokyo 2017

Dear friend,

When you’re shooting on the streets, dance.

Shoot freely, openly. Improvise with your shooting. Like Nietzsche said, compose freely. Invent freely. Make visual images that are open, carefree, and fun.

1. Photography should be fun!

Cindy and hand through criss-cross diamond-patterned, translucent glass window. Tokyo, 2017
Cindy and hand through criss-cross diamond-patterned, translucent glass window. Tokyo, 2017

Treat photography like playing. The world is your visual building blocks. Put them together in whatever combination you please. You’re like the child of Heraclitus— the child at the beach, building sandcastles. Eventually, all the sand will flow back to the sea. But at least you’ll have had fun making the sandcastles.

2. All will eventually drift back into the sea

Cindy and red lips. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy and red lips. Kyoto, 2017

With art, your work will (eventually) fade. Put away your ambition to exist as a photographer and visual artist for millennia.

Seek to make pictures that bring joy to you, and a few others in your life. Don’t let anybody tell you what to shoot, how to shoot, and ignore anyone who tries to superimpose their tyrant-like “rules” of photography and art onto you.

Shoot freely. Shoot openly. Shoot what brings you joy.

3. How to shoot freely

Walking woman. Kyoto street photograph, 2017
Walking woman. Kyoto street photograph, 2017

In practical terms, some ideas:

  1. Whenever you see anything you want to photograph, JUST SHOOT IT. Decide far later (perhaps when you get home) whether you want to “keep” or “ditch” the shot. Don’t judge yourself during the shooting process.
  2. Don’t care to make “original” pictures. If you see something you want to photograph, yet you feel it is “cliche”— shoot it anyways. Just seek to make good pictures which bring you joy.
  3. Don’t follow “rules” of composition. Shoot, and compose…according to your gut. Don’t do the same boring composition of straight lines and symmetry. Make DYNAMIC images, by tilting the camera. By sometimes not using the viewfinder. By sometimes shooting blind. My friend Neil Ta has a good photo assignment: Shoot for an hour with your LCD screen turned off (and don’t use a viewfinder). This will help you shoot more freely.

Above all, treat photography like playing. The more fun you have, the better pictures you will make.

Cindy at Traveling Coffee. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy at Traveling Coffee. Kyoto, 2017

BE STRONG,
ERIC

Next Steps

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