After I took a picture of this man, he stole my camera strap. Tokyo, 2017

How to Enter the Street Photography Zone

After I took a picture of this man, he stole my camera strap. Tokyo, 2017
After I took a picture of this man, he stole my camera strap. Tokyo, 2017

What I love in street photography is getting swept away in the flow of people, like a stream of water.


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Street photography is a river of people

When I’m in the streets, I try to turn off my mind. I turn off my ego. I turn off my fear, doubts, and self-censor. I don’t judge when shooting— I just identify, react, and click.

I take a picture of anything that interests me. I like to shoot in busy areas, where I can get lost and swept up in the flow of people. This makes me less self-conscious of myself, and helps me focus more on making pictures.

1. Keep your eyes open

When shooting, I prefer to use an LCD screen. It helps me be more flexible when shooting. I can hold the camera in one hand, and shoot from a very low angle or very high. Also, it allows me to see more of the world around me, and helps me to get less “tunnel-vision” inside my viewfinder when I’m shooting.

Also, I’ve found if you want to shoot candidly and without permission, don’t make eye contact when you’re shooting. It is more sneaky, but it works. And if your primary concern is to stay in your street photography zone and not interact with anybody, avoid eye contact. Pretend like you’re just a lost and dumb tourist shooting something else.

2. Don’t disrupt your shooting flow

Also I’ve found when I’m really in a street photography zone, I’m quite aggressive. I get very close. I get in front of the path in which people are walking. I crouch down a lot. I use a flash. I don’t hesitate. This helps me keep shooting, and not get distracted.

Pro tip 2: Don’t “chimp” or check your LCD screen or preview your images while you’re in the street photography zone or flow of shooting. Why not? Often I get distracted by my LCD screen, and rather than looking for the next picture, I’m still stuck on the picture I just shot.

In street photography, always think about the NEXT great street picture you will make.

3. Turn off distractions

Pro tip 3: Turn off your phone, or set it to airplane mode. Don’t listen to music. Let the ambient sounds of the streets resonate in your body and soul.

The phone distracts us from shooting in a street photography flow. Whenever my phone vibrates or rings, my focus in shooting is totally fucked up. The worst thing you can do is answer emails when you’re out shooting.

Shoot the streets like you’re in zen street photography mode. Stay focused. Avoid distractions of the outside world. Don’t think about your marriage problems, your kids, your financial worries or whatever. Just take pictures and stay in your zone.

4. Smile :)

Last tip: Smile when you’re shooting. Stare at people and the streets with a huge, child-like grin on your face. Be joyful, enthusiastic. You’re dancing on the streets with your camera. Have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Shooting street photography should REDUCE stress and anxiety from your life. If shooting street photography causes you stress, attend one of my workshops and I can show you in-person how to alleviate that stress. Also read my STREET PHOTOGRAPHY 101 series to find the answer for yourself. Real life is already stressful enough— why add stress in your passion and joy of street photography?

5. Kill your master

Of course, I don’t got the answers. Only you do. ERIC KIM can only be used as a guide in your photography and artistic journey.

Please please please, don’t listen to me. Just take everything I say as a tip, or suggestion. Experiment, try out new techniques and approaches, and see what works for you.

Ultimately you’re the final judge of yourself and your visual artistry. Treat your teachers and mentors as your guides, not your masters. Once you’ve learned what you’ve needed to learn from your master, you must kill your master, and give birth to yourself.



Tokyo, 2012

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