Reality vs. Perception in Photography

Eric kim selfie. Pentax 645z

Reality: the world as it is. Perception: how you see and experience the world.


DOWNLOAD PDF: Reality vs perception in photography


1. Your perspective is unique

Korean veteran. American flag. NYC.

I think in our photography, the point isn’t to capture “reality”. No, it is for us to capture our own perception, or interpretation of the world.

Suit in the bathroom washing his hands at whole foods. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

I don’t think there is a single “objective” reality. We all experience reality differently. Some of us (myself included) have astigmatism, and see the world from a different perspective. Some of us are color blind. Some of us are far-sighted, others near-sighted.

NYC urban landscape.

The way we perceive the world doesn’t change the reality of the world. All of our perceptions of the world are unique. You wouldn’t expect a dragonfly and human being to see the world the same.

Yet, consider… humans can only perceive certain wavelengths of colors and lights. Ultraviolet rays still exist in the world… yet we cannot perceive it. **Just because we cannot perceive something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.*

2. It is all subjective.


I think we have established the difference between “objective reality” and “subjective perception”.

My thesis is this:

Your goal as a visual artist is to present your unique view of the world with others, not to present the world in an “objective” way.

For example, I think street photography isn’t about capturing“objective reality” — as photojournalists “try” to do. No, we bring our own preconceived notions, our own opinions, our own biases, and our own personal politics into the frame we create.

The more subjective you make your pictures, the better.

3. Put yourself in your own pictures

Cindy in my friend Alexander's home. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

Therefore, interact with your subjects. “Bother” them. Put yourself in your own pictures. The more personal and subjective you can make your pictures, the more soul they will have. The more soul they have, the more memorable they will be. The more memorable your pictures, the more they will live in the mind, subconscious, and the heart of your viewer… the more you will change their perception of the world, and influence them to see the world differently (like how you see it).

The good artist is a good persuader, a good influencer, and is NOT objective. A good artist makes pictures for themself, but also feels joy in sharing their work with others.

Cindy sleeping. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z

So friend, don’t be afraid to follow your own unique voice. You’re a unique honey bee… make your own unique visual honey. And spread that pollen, far and wide. You won’t always flower or pollinate a plant, but the more you fly, cross-pollinate your creative sources, and the more you stay focused on your great life task… you will truly thrive as a visual artist.




Make, learn, play. Every day. CREATIVE EVERY DAY is your inspirational foundation to spread your creative wings and soar to the next level.


Seoul, 2009

Dear friend,

If you’re new to photography, start here:

  1. Free Photography Bootcamp
  2. The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography
  3. 100 Photography Tips for Beginners

Photography Inspiration

The Fundamentals of Photography

Photography Equipment »

How to Take Better Photos »

Composition Lessons »

Photography Assignments »

Contact Sheets »

laughing lady contact sheet NYC eric kim

Editing (Image Selection) »

eric kim laughing lady nyc

Creativity »

eric kim Cindy project reflection flash

Motivation »

eric kim portrait by Cindy nguyen


dark skies over Tokyo eric kim

How to Create a Body of Work

AMERICA - ERIC KIM16 eric kim woman popsicle

Technical Photography Settings

eric kim mom glasses

Learn From the Masters of Photography


“He without a past has no future.”

Start here:

  1. Why Study the Masters of Photography?
  2. Great Female Master Photographers
  3. Cheat Sheet of the Masters of Photography
  4. 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
  5. Beginner’s Guide to the Masters of Street Photography
  6. Download All Articles >

The Masters of Photography

Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

Classics never die: