If you’re an intermediate-advanced street photographer looking to push yourself to the next level, you have arrived at STREET PHOTOGRAPHY 103: your personal masterclass for street photography.
Primo, you’ve probably discovered your style, and you want to keep going. Some ideas.
Never stop evolving and don’t define yourself
At this point, you probably shouldn’t even call yourself a “street photographer”. You don’t need to define yourself. The more you define yourself the less creative and innovative you will be.
Push the boundaries. Shoot things in the streets that others might think is “amateurish”— like simple textures, trash you see on the ground, urban landscapes, architecture, or people pictures.
You’re too advanced — you don’t need to shoot simple candid “decisive moment” type of photos like Henri Cartier-Bresson. Like Nietzsche says, create a pathos or feeling of DISTANCE from other photographers and street photographers.
DISTANCE from other photographers manifested by not caring to have your work “accepted” by other photographers in the community. That means, spending little to no time on social media. That means to be a self-sufficient, self-centered, and self-focused photographer and visual artist.
You’re your own master.
You are the point that you are confident in your photography, and you see yourself on-par with the great masters of photography from the past. You no longer have the need to “prove anything” to anyone else. You are in a category of your own —and you cannot let anyone else put you in a box, or define you, or tell you what to do, or what not to do.
You are the vertically-integrated visual factory.
Also, you’re at the point that you don’t care for whether others like your work, or don’t like your work.
Don’t read the comments of others.
Become your own self-sufficient visual factory.
You are a great vertically-integrated pillar and visual industry. You can make the pictures, choose the pictures, and publish the pictures yourself. That means, you can be a one-person show. You can find inspiration from within yourself, you can use your own gut and instincts to choose your best work, and you can also publish your own pictures on your own photography website or blog. You are not the slave of Facebook or Instagram.
To build your own vertically-integrated visual industry, make your own website/blog with the WordPress.org framework. Use a host like 1and1.com or bluehost.com. Don’t draw your audience to your Instagram or Facebook. Only direct them to your own platform.
Host your own videos on YouTube, and above all, publish content, pictures, and information that YOU like.
Publish work that you’re proud of, and publish work that you would like to look at.
When you’re shooting on the streets, no apologies. You’re more cold and ruthless as a street photographer at this point. You know how to use tactful flattery to get the street portraits you want, and you don’t worry about “upsetting” others. You know that your duty as a visual artist is to make great work, and you aren’t doing it for yourself —you’re doing it for society, and for future generations.
You also don’t hesitate on the streets, because you no longer let fear hold you back. Rather, you use fear as a stimulus to DRIVE YOU FORWARD, or to PUSH YOU FORWARD! In other words, you photograph what you’re afraid of.
Also, you’re at the point that you are comfortable having your own picture taken. This will prevent you from feeling any guilt from photographing others.
Also, you no longer fear negative confrontations. You know that if others yell at you or threaten you, that you have a cool, strong, and firm stoic calm. You are mentally and physically strong, and you won’t let anyone else bully you around. If someone tells you to delete the picture and you don’t want to, just say that you don’t delete pictures, and walk away. If anyone puts a hand on you, you can call the cops and put them behind bars.
To get to this level, you gotta know how to hold your ground. In fact, when others get angry at you —you should get angry back. You should become indignant that the other person even dares to challenge you or question you. They’re the one who is at fault, not you.
Simple and Dynamic Compositions
In terms of your compositions, they are simple yet dynamic. Simple with no distractions in the background, yet dynamic — dynamic compositions with Diagonals and curves, hand gestures, facial expressions, and energy and sex in the frame.
You no longer make excuses for not getting the shot. You either got the shot or you didn’t. No excuses or in-between “maybe” pictures in your portfolio.
Also, you’re at the point that you’re only shooting in the streets for your own personal edification, your own personal visual joy, and for yourself to push your own visual limits. You’re like a street scientist — using the camera as your apparatus to better understand, analyze, and deconstruct reality.
You’re in a category of all your own
Also realize that most people won’t “understand” your pictures. You’re on a whole different level. Most beginner photographers or even intermediate street photographers won’t understand what you’re doing. But, you’re a visual pioneer —don’t seek to be understood. Rather, seek to innovate.
You must find inspiration, knowledge, and wisdom about photography and art OUTSIDE of the ghetto of photography. To be frank, most photographers aren’t very visually educated or knowledgeable. You must study the great painters of the past, the great poets of the past, and the great visual innovators of the past. You must master the knowledge of all the masters of photography, then master the knowledge of all the masters of art.
You will learn more about Color Theory from Piet Mondrian and Vincent Van Gogh than any photographer. You will learn more about storytelling from the Ancient Greek and Roman poets of the past (Homer, Horace) than any photographer. Photography is such a new baby and infantile visual art.
Our goal as photographers is to DRIVE THE GENRE AND CULTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY FORWARD, TO NEW HEIGHTS! Therefore, we are not deserting our posts as photographers. We are simply augmenting our own knowledge of visual art, in order to empower all photographers, and all genres of photography.
So why street photography? We are street dogs —we are wolves, prowling on the streets, wandering, visually-hungry for pictures. We see the streets as our playgrounds. We are most comfortable when pounding the pavement, not stuck in some stuffy studio.
We also realize the streets are hard, and a battle ground. The streets are scarier to shoot than any safe, or foam-padded room. We have the chance to get attacked, we have the chance of confrontation, and negative happenings.
But, as a street soldier, a streettog, and street stoic — you have adamantine armor. You have a heart of bronze, strong arms and legs, and an infatigueable mind. You’re relentless with your picture-making, and you won’t let anyone stop you.
It’s all on you.
You’re addicted to growth and innovation. You will use any tools, any techniques, and any means necessary to innovate your visual art.
You never blame your tools or equipment. You only blame yourself.
Your success as a photographer all depends on you.
Never doubt yourself.
You’re always hungry, and always foolish. You are never satisfied, and nobody can hustle as hard as you. You’re a hard worker, yet, you find gratitude, and joy in the process of your photographic journey. Ain’t nobody see the streets like you do. Ain’t nobody else have the same perspective or vision as you do. You’re unique, special, and motivated.
So why ever doubt yourself, your direction, or your progress?
Have faith in yourself friend, that you’re on the right path.
What’s EK up to?
As for ERIC KIM — I’m thinking outside the box, or outside the frame. I’m a visual scientist, experimenting with my iPad and Procreate app, creating visual pictures from my own photographs, and tracing the works of the greats. I’m addicted to visual innovation, and trying to understand what makes truly great visual art.
I’m striving to push the culture of photography forward — that we’re not just photographers. We are visual artists, using any visual tool to create our own reality. I’m changing the culture, that we are self-owned, and we don’t care what others think of our own photos. I am anti-Instagram, anti-social medial and Pro-individuality, Pro-innovation, Pro-you.
You aren’t for everybody.
I am not for everyone, and neither are you.
Don’t strive to gain millions of followers. Just focus on who you think your 10 loyal fans are, and disregard everyone else.
The more true you are to yourself, the more successful you will be. The more you try to placate or impress the masses, the more likely you are to fail.
Above all, Never self-doubt yourself. You’re real as fuck. You don’t front or fake. You shoot unfiltered, and you live unfiltered.
We are the new visual barbarians, and ready to conquer. Of course, not conquer others, but conquer the most difficult opponent — ourselves.
The greatest kingdom is our own kingdom. We must build our own throne, brick by brick, mortar by mortar, and picture by picture. You must be relentless, adamant, and ruthless towards yourself. You need self-discipline, and you must be hard. You have a stoic shield and cuirass of eager steel.
You have veins pumping with purple inspiration and your winged heart is flying high with inspiration. Your mind is levitation, and you got no self-doubt, and no self negation.
In the streets, you keep pacing, and keep gracing others with your lens. You are always joyful and surrounded by friends. You know that your own future depends on you. You know that your style is only for you— nobody else can fill your shoes.
You make your own news. You don’t need inspiration or air from others. You have little cares in life, except your own, your family, friends, and community. You stay humble, yet hustle hard —you and me.
You’re constantly in a state of becoming, you’re an unbroken rope of continuity. Your inspiration is a steady river, you keep flowing fluidly.
Every day, you are renewed. You are the chosen one, with a visual gun.
Never forget where you’ve come from, and the new heights you achieved. And above all, never stop making art for yourself and others. Just believe, and keep hunting for that visual cheese.
Swift thoughts; feel the breeze.
Conquer the streets with Henri PHANTOM BLACK.
ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP
Learn from the masters of street photography: MASTERS now available on AMAZON
Unleash your creative potential:
- April 10-11th, 2021: BOSTON / Discover Your Unique Voice in Photography Workshop [Register Intent Here]
- May 1-2nd, 2021: CHICAGO / Street Photography Composition Masterclass [Register Intent Here]
- May 22-22nd, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS by ERIC KIM [Register Intent Here]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.