Part 4: How to gain creative confidence in yourself as a photographer.

The difference between good and great photographers: having confidence in yourself.


The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography


1. Don’t care what others think of your photos

Cindy elevator, Dutch angle. Saigon, 2017
Abstract. Cindy elevator, Dutch angle. Saigon, 2017

The first thing to ask yourself to gain creative confidence:

Do I like my own photos?

2. Don’t take photography too seriously

Photograph of my leg, while lying in bed. Hotel Room. Saigon, 2017
Photograph of my leg, while lying in bed. Hotel Room. Saigon, 2017

The more I play around, and don’t take my photography seriously, the more fun I have, and the more creative I am.

3. Photography is experimentation

Danny Kid with teeth. Saigon, 2017
Danny with teeth. Saigon, 2017

You never know when you’re going to get a good shot, so always experiment with your camera and tools, and treat yourself like a mad scientist with a camera.

Try strange angles. Shoot from very low, tilt your camera, try the Dutch angle.

A lot of photographers put too much pressure on themselves to always make good photos. In reality, you must treat every time you click the shutter as a mini experiment.

You might have 1,000 failed photos and attempts. If you just get one good experiment and result, you’ve done your job as a good scientist.

Remember: your First Million photos are your worst.

4. Shoot yourself

Self portrait. Saigon, 2017
Self portrait. Saigon, 2017

The more I shoot myself, the more confidence I build to shoot others.

Shoot Yourself in the mirror, the bathroom, shoot your own shadow, and experiment with the exposure compensation.

Selfie in the mirror. Saigon, 2017
Selfie in the mirror. Saigon, 2017

Shoot pictures with -1 exposure compensation:

Selfie with RICOH GR II. Saigon, 2017
Minus 1 exposure compensation. Selfie with RICOH GR II. Saigon, 2017

Shoot pictures with +1 exposure compensation:

White ERIC KIM FACE. Selfie, Saigon 2017
+1 exposure compensation. White ERIC KIM FACE. Selfie, Saigon 2017

Always have your camera around your neck, or ready to shoot:

Saigon silhouette, hotel room selfie. 2017
My shadow. Saigon silhouette, hotel room selfie. 2017

Even as a fun thing, give your camera to someone else, or even a kid to shoot you.

Scary ERIC KIM. Shot by a 3 year old kid named Danny. Saigon, 2017
Scary ERIC KIM. Shot by a 3 year old kid named Danny. Saigon, 2017

Or just play fun jokes on yourself, like kisses in the mirror:

Selfie kiss. Saigon, 2017
Selfie kiss. Saigon, 2017

And remember, you will have to make a lot of photos, to get even one decent shot:

Contact sheet of Cindy in mirror in our hotel room. Saigon, 2017.
Contact sheet of Cindy in mirror in our hotel room. Saigon, 2017.
Misfit Cindy Nguyen Kiss red
My life partner, companion, and fellow misfit. Cindy in Saigon hotel mirror.

5. Can you dance?

Cindy. Saigon, 2017
Cindy dancing with flower in our hotel lobby. Saigon, 2017

I think the most confident artists are the ones who have the confidence to dance.

We are all born dancers. We like to wiggle to the rhythm of the music. Yet, as we get older, we lose this ability — because we fear what others think of us. We focus on “looking cool” than just having fun.

Cindy. Saigon, 2017
Cindy with arms spread. Saigon, 2017
Cindy eye shadows. Saigon, 2017
Cindy eye shadows. Saigon, 2017
Cindy bent elbow, dance. Saigon, 2017
Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject
Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

Cindy blur. Saigon, 2017
Cindy blur. Saigon, 2017

Why dance? It is the ultimate way to just get lost in the flow of music, and making art with your body.

Treat photography as dancing with your camera. Get lost in the drunken Dionysian dance of making images, painting with light, and using your gut and intuition to lead your photo making process.

Conclusion

Curve composition and Cindy hand. Saigon, 2017
Curve composition and Cindy hand. Saigon, 2017

The more you shoot, the more confidence you will have.

Also practical tip: post less to social media, and post more to your own website or blog.

Make your own photography blog, and you will have more freedom and flexibility to experiment, while caring less of what others think of your work.

And if you’re really crazy (like me), don’t bother getting an Instagram. Or better yet, delete your Instagram— the ultimate form of creative confidence (owning your own platform).

BE BOLD,
ERIC

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography

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