Why be simple photographer?

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Produce more photos!

This is my theory: the more we can simplify our photographic process, the more photos we can make, and thus be more productive in our photography. And the more productive we are as photographers (producing more photos), we will be happier.

Why become a productive photographer?

I hate the modern concept of productivity as being always busy. Real productivity is PRODUCING stuff — producing artwork. Productivity isn’t just answering emails.

Anyways, I look at nature and the best trees are the ones that produce a lot of fruit.

You are like a tree, except you produce visual fruit. You produce the fruit of photographs, pictures, and images.

Thus, the more visual fruit you can produce, the better.

Simplicity is the ultimate life hack

I’ve always been obsessed with productivity hacks — trying to discover new ways to simplify my life, in order for me to MAKE MORE STUFF (productivity).

Abstract leading lines

I’ve discovered in photography, the more simple my tools, the more simple my settings, the more simple my approach, and the more simple my workflow, the more photos I can make and produce, and the more photos I can share.

Some tips:

  1. Use a simple camera: Small, compact camera that can fit in your front pocket. I shoot with RICOH GR II x ERIC KIM NECK STRAP. Other good simple cameras include iPhone, Fuji x100-series, or even Leica M-series.
  2. Use simple settings: Keep your settings as simple as possible, in order to think less about the technical settings (set it and forget it) in order to shoot more. I just shoot in program (p) mode, center point autofocus, JPEG only, center point autofocus, and ISO 800 during day (1600 at night).
  3. Shoot spontaneously: Don’t overthink your photography. If you see something that interests you, JUST SHOOT IT. And also I recommend shooting many photos of a scene that interests you (aim for 10+ photos a scene).
  4. Simple workflow: Import your photos, quickly and effectively flag and edit them down, process them quickly, and export them quickly. I’ve found importing photos on my iPad with SD card lightning reader, flagging photos in Apple Photos app, and processing photos in Lightroom CC to help speed up my workflow. Other options include shooting only JPEG to process your photos quicker, and more efficiently.
  5. Simple storage: Just keep your photos synced in Dropbox.
  6. **Simple publishing: **I recommend publishing your photos to your own website or blog, and publish photos you consider 80% “good enough”.
  7. Simple goals: Just make your goal as a photographer to shoot a little more everyday. Don’t aim for some mega huge project; this might overwhelm you. Rather, seek to find joy in your photography, everyday.

Simple aesthetics

Umbrella Dutch angle composition. Tokyo, 2017
Umbrella Dutch angle composition. Tokyo, 2017

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

When I look at art, I think the best artwork is simple, elegant, and beautiful.

Light, leading lines. London

Simple compositions — trying not to have more than 3 subjects in the frame. Or if there are many subjects in the frame, a simple composition to add order and hierarchy in the image (like a triangle composition or an “arabesque” composition).

Plane in London

Whenever possible, seek to subtract from your frame to simplify your photographic compositions.

Simple living

Simple espresso

In my personal life, I seek to live a simple life. A life where I can minimize distractions and responsibilities, in order for me to focus on what is truly meaningful to me — writing, producing, making photos, teaching, processing ideas, and publishing.

Trees. London

I seek to simplify my lifestyle — I wear the same all black outfit everyday, listen to the same few artists to get me in a creative mood, and to do the same simple exercises to keep my body and mind fit. And of course in the evenings, my 6-10 “egg snacks” to fill my stomach.

Red and green abstract London

Anyways, I feel that living a simple life will certainly favor less “paralysis by analysis”, and thus more ACTION in life. By having too many choices, we act less, because we are overwhelmed by the options.

Fewer options -> more action in life.

Keep it simple

Happy face. Lisbon, 2018
Happy face. Lisbon, 2018

Keep it simple, keep it clean, keep it minimal.

By minimizing the superfluous, seek to accumulate extra energy, extra strength, and extra vigor to MAKE MORE, ACT MORE, and SHOOT MORE!


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Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Mastering Street Photography
Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography

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