How to Simplify Your Photography and Life

Dear friend,

Some ideas on how you can simplify your photography and life.


DOWNLOAD PDF: How to simplify your photography

1. Less is better

First of all, seek to REDUCE complexity in your photography and life.

That means, use a simpler camera. Use a simpler workflow and editing process.

Rather than trying to make more complicated and complex pictures, seek to make them more simple. Fewer elements. Fewer distractions. More focus.

2. Simple camera settings

When you shoot, use simple settings.

Keep your camera in P (program) mode, center point autofocus, and ISO 1600. “Set it and forget it” should be our mantra.


Nowadays, I’m just shooting only JPEG. Why? It simplifies life.

I just point, click, transfer my pictures to a device, and upload them directly to this blog.

Lately, I’ve realized the zen of shooting with digital medium format photography in color is this— I don’t need to post-process the pictures or add any filters. The pictures look good to me “out of camera.” That means less time fiddling around with a computer, and more time shooting and enjoying life.

4. Seek to REDUCE complexity

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”— once said Leonardo da Vinci. You know how smart someone is by how simple, clear, and direct they can make their thinking.

A consultant in business should help you SIMPLIFY your work and processes, rather than adding complexity. The ultimate consultant would be like a Zen monk— subtracting the superfluous and fat from your process, rather than adding “efficiency” or other processes.

5. Why I love simplicity

Simplicity has helped my life in many ways. I wear a simple all-black outfit— same one everyday. Less stress about what to wear, and more time to think, meditate, and do creative work.

I’m doing 95% of my computing on an iPad. This helps me to prevent myself from multi-tasking, and it helps me focus. It’s not the “best” or the “perfect” device— but “good enough” for me, and simple enough. I do all my writing on the IA writer app, which encourages me to just focus on writing, with the simple interface.

With web design, simple is best. Have fewer options.

6. What is minimalist isn’t always simple.

A key thing:

Minimalism and simplicity is different.

For example, a lot of “minimalist” interfaces are actually very complicated to use. For example, a “minimalist” touchscreen in a car is actually more difficult and complicated to use than physical knobs and dials. The physical knobs and dials may look more clunky, and less “minimalist” in terms of the aesthetic— but they are simpler to use, and more functional.

7. My definition of simple

To me, simple means direct. Unpretentious. Clean. Efficient and effective. Powerful, with minimum of waste and excess. No superfluity.

8. Simple suggestions

So friend, consider how you can make your photography and life more simple. Some ideas:

  1. Use the simplest photography processing and editing app. Try out the default Apple Photos app, or VSCO. Or try to simplify your Lightroom workflow, to use fewer filters and functions.
  2. “Set it and forget it” in terms of your camera settings. If you shoot with a phone just use the default or simplest app. For your digital camera just shoot “P” mode, ISO 1600, and center point autofocus.
  3. Just shoot JPEG only. Or shoot RAW, but automatically apply the same preset to all your images (download ERIC KIM PRESETS).
  4. When shooting street photography, have a simple approach. When shooting street portraits with permission, approach them and just give them a simple compliment before shooting them.
  5. Seek to SIMPLIFY your composition, by REMOVING distractions and superfluous distractions.
  6. To make a good picture, make a SIMPLE yet DYNAMIC picture. Simple background, or simple subject. Dynamic lines, tilt, or expressions or emotions.
  7. Simplify your equipment— I prefer the zen of one camera and one lens.
  8. Simplify your travels: travel to fewer cities, and spend more time in fewer places. Better to get to know one neighborhood very well, instead of many neighborhoods in a superficial way.
  9. Simplify your thinking: try to make your ideas concise, and direct. Nip away the buds of superfluity.
  10. Study ZEN, Taoism, or any philosophical system that allows you to SIMPLIFY your thinking and life— rather than “adding” shit to your life.