“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci
I am obsessed with simplicity. Why? The simpler I can make my everyday life, the more energy, focus, and power I can give to what is truly important to me — my friends, family, creative work, and myself.
The world is too complicated
To start off, what is the difference between “complicated” and “complex”?
- Complicated: Undesirable. Unnecessary superfluous confusion, functions, and features.
- Complex: Desirable. Multi faceted, multi layered, but can seem simple on the outside.
Much of the world and modern society is trying to make things unnecessarily complicated in order to confuse you. It is precisely confusion and complexity we are trying to fight in our everyday lives.
Diet and complication
For example, diet, health, and nutrition is far too complicated. There are so many different theories and schools of thought.
For myself, I’ve simplified my beliefs on diet and health, which is pretty much what to avoid, or what to subtract from your diet.
For example, I personally abstain from refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugar. As an Asian, I also try to abstain from lactose, cheese, and butter (even though I cheated a lot in France).
I don’t think there are “desirable” foods which by eating will make us “healthier”. But there are certainly foods out there which will make us sicker, more anemic, and flabbier — these are the foods we wish to avoid (foods that are generally white, starchy, and full of refined carbohydrates).
Exercise and complication
Exercise theory is also far too complicated. I’ve tried to simplify it by just sticking to big complex movements in the gym: squat, deadlift, dumbbell press (I have torn too many rotator cuffs from bench press).
Also when on the road, when I cannot go to a gym, I’ve simplified my exercises to chin-ups (usually at the park, or on construction awnings), “dive bomber” pushups (less strain on shoulders), and body weight squats (either two legged squats or one legged pistol squats). And of course, lots of walking for my mental health.
Photography and complication
I recently put together a new video course which is an introductory guide to beginner photographers. I found the biggest challenge of making the course was to simplify photography — to only teach the essentials, and simplify composition, framing, and the technical settings.
I’ve simplified my photography by just shooting in program mode, center point autofocus, iso 800-1600, JPEG, and the RICOH GR II and ERIC KIM NECK STRAP. I’ve worked tirelessly over the years to keep simplifying photography, to worry less about the gear and technical settings, and to focus on what is truly meaningful in photography — the joy of making photos, and the joy of reviewing and sharing my photos.
I’ve found ultimately RAW to be far too complicated, especially when shooting color. For black and white, I was able to simplify the process in RAW by using ERIC KIM MONOCHROME 1600 preset.
I’ve also had so many different cameras and equipment in the past, but ultimately — simplicity triumphs. The simplicity of a small point and shoot camera, without a viewfinder or unnecessary things, is the ultimate sophistication in photography.
Generally, I find that subtraction is better than addition in photography — either with our compositions or our gear.
Simpler compositions are stronger, and more powerful and impactful. They help you focus on the emotions of a scene.
Simple gear in photography helps us focus more on capturing composition, emotions, and soul in our photography, and not to get distracted by the small stuff.
In my everyday life, I also try to keep it simple. I wear the same all black outfit everyday, drink the same black coffee (preferably espresso), listen to the same few music albums on repeat, and try to stay focused on the most important thing to me — coming up with ideas, brainstorming, meditating, thinking, remixing ideas, cross pollinating, and then writing, creating, and publishing.
I prefer my tools to be simple. I prefer writing on IA WRITER on iPad Pro (10.5), usually while standing (I’m typing these lines as my iPad is on top of a clothing dresser). I have been editing my photos on the iPad as well, using the SD lightning cable connector. I’ve been using the same few presets in Adobe Lightroom CC for iPad (I like the punchy detail color filter).
In terms of my personal lifestyle, I prefer it to be simple. I generally fast from eating breakfast and lunch, I will wait until dinner to chow down, as a reward to myself after a long day of work.
I prefer to go grocery shopping, even while traveling, to enjoy the simple joy of choosing meats and veggies, and then going home and cooking.
I prefer the simple joy of chatting with friends, family, and having 3 hour dinners together.
In terms of my leisure, I prefer walking, doing creative work in coffee shops, and making photos, art, and producing ideas.
Many of you know my 6-8 “egg snacks” I have in the evening (usually after eating a full dinner). I’ve found the egg to be the ultimate simple food: simple to store, simple to cook, and simple to clean up. Cheap as well.
Why live a simple life?
Often simple is conflated or confused with being idiotic, dumb, or ill-witted.
My definition of simple is that it is the ultimate elegance, sophistication, and maximal focus, strength, with the least amount of waste, confusion, or superfluity.
Simple pleasures are easy to obtain, and provide maximum pleasure and enjoyment. Anybody, regardless of how rich or poor, or how busy you are — anybody can go on a walk, and enjoy the pleasure of a simple walk.
Anyone can enjoy the simple pleasure of making photos, either on your phone, digital camera, or whatever camera. It is only the striving for fame, recognition, and external markers of success when photography becomes very complicated and frustrating.
Simplicity in our tools means less money spent on gear and equipment we don’t need, and more money for travel, having novel experiences, and of course, buying expensive single origin espressos at hipster coffee shops.
Pick up the pace
Ultimately, I’m still trying to figure out my life, and trying to discover more truths about life — which pertain to myself, which I hope also pertain to others.
I’m turning 30 tomorrow, which means that a third of my life (or more) is over. That means, I need to quicken the pace to keep discovering more secrets and truths about the universe — about how to life a fulfilling and meaningful life, how to empower yourself and others, and how to promote art that is positive, hopeful, and optimistic.
My practical suggestion for you is this:
Try to simplify your life a little bit, every day.
Simplify your life by giving away unnecessary clothes to charity. Delete old photos or files on your hard drive. Donate old camera gear or equipment you no longer use, or just sell it. Everyday, seek to minimize, subtract, until you become a perfect sphere, and where you care less about stuff, and more about making art, and having a meaningful impact on the lives of others, and of course, focus on yourself on making your own art.
I think ultimately the purpose of human life is to make empowering art — art which empowers us, and art which empowers others. Everything else is a bit superfluous, complicated, and unnecessary.
Stay connected with other artists and empower one another on ERIC KIM FORUM, pick up empowering tools in HAPTIC SHOP or on AMAZON, and also join me for an ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE, to learn the secrets of living a more fulfilling life through photography, travel, and adventure.