The Soul of the Photographer

Ricoh selfie flash. London, 2018

What is the soul of the photographer? The soul of a photographer is a child— ready to play, explore the world, and re-arrange reality as he/she sees fit.

The photographer is curious

Shadow selfie, small box. Uji, 2018

Shadow selfie, small box. Uji, 2018

The soul of a photographer is an inquisitive nature. The photographer is naturally curious, and wants to explore and see the world for him/herself. This is why all photographers naturally love to travel. They wish to broaden their horizons, to see new colors, new sights, and see new arrangements of society. Street photography is a tool for the photographer to analyze society — to use the camera as a research tool.

The photographer uses their camera as a paintbrush

Red selfie. Tokyo, 2017

Red selfie. Tokyo, 2017

But, the photographer also uses the camera as a paintbrush. The photographer doesn’t always need to capture interesting content, subjects, people, or places. Often, the photographer can just photograph nice colors, shapes, and forms for the sake of it — because these colors, shapes, and forms brings the photographer innate joy.

The photographer is a visual scientist

Selfie and curved script. Lisbon, 2018

Selfie and curved script. Lisbon, 2018

Also, the photographer is an experimenter. The photographer isn’t sure what the photo is going to look like, thus the photographer shoots his/her camera, and treats each photograph like a mini-visual experiment. Like the photographer Garry Winogrand said:

“I photograph to see what the world looks like photographed.”

The photographer changes the world

Walking selfie and globe shadow. Lisbon, 2018

Walking selfie and globe shadow. Lisbon, 2018

We as photographers have an interest in the real world, but we are also interested in the “false” visual world that photography gives us a third-eye vision to. Because photographs look different than the real world. If we shoot black and white photography, of course the real world doesn’t look like black and white. Depending on the camera film we use, or how we post-process our RAW or JPEG files, the color photos we shoot look different than that of reality.

The photographer transforms reality to his/her own inner-vision

Hand and selfie shadow. Blue and red. Marseille, 2017

Hand and selfie shadow. Blue and red. Marseille, 2017

As photographers, we aren’t interested in capturing reality as we see it with our two eyes. Rather, we seek to use the camera to TRANSFORM reality into something else in our photos. We construct our own version of reality with our camera.

The photographer smiles

Selfie our Cindy and our friend at local market in Marseille

Selfie our Cindy and our friend at local market in Marseille

The pure soul of the photographer doesn’t care what others think of their photos. Rather, the photographer seeks to make photographs that bring joy to him/herself. The photographer is playful, and treats the world like his/her own visual playground and jungle gym.

The photographer always has a smile on his/her face, and shoots photographs to proclaim the joy, gratitude, and happiness he/she feels being alive. The photographer AFFIRMS life, and says with their camera:

Life is worth living! I took photographs of the joy/beauty of life– to prove it!

The photographer is positive and optimistic

ERIC KIM abstract selfie, Amsterdam 2017

ERIC KIM abstract selfie, Amsterdam 2017

To me, the photographer (and photography as a whole) is a positive, optimistic form of art. As photographers, we all seek to find beauty in our photos, regardless of how boring or mundane our everyday reality may be.

Street photography for example is to glorify the beauty of “normal” human beings, and interesting/meaningful things which happen on the street.

Furthermore, us as photographers– we document the widest gamut of the human experience. We capture pain, suffering, as well as joy, glee, and hope. The photographer acknowledges pain and suffering in the world, yet still remains cheerful, optimistic, and looks forward to the (better) future.

The photographer is a judge

Selfie in Amsterdam with Ricoh GR II.

Selfie in Amsterdam with Ricoh GR II.

The photographer is also a judge. By deciding what to photograph (and what to not photograph), the photographer makes a judgement. By making a photo of something, the photographer says:

I deem this beautiful, thus I took a photograph of it.

The photographer is subjective

Selfie through broken glass with flash.

Selfie through broken glass with flash.

Also the photographer realizes that what he/she finds beautiful doesn’t apply to everyone else. Thus, the photographer knows that whatever he/she finds beautiful is only specific to him/herself. The photographer realizes that there is no “objective” beauty in the world. Rather, the photographer simply captures his/her own version of beautiful reality.

The photographer is never satisfied

Selfie with Cindy in Saigon hotel with lipstick kiss in mirror. 2017

Cindy Nguyen. CEO of HAPTIC

The photographer is always hungry, ever-curious, and never satisfied. The photographer is eternally grateful, yet always seeks to HAVE MORE! To experience more, to see more, and to shoot more.

The photographer doesn’t care too much about their equipment. The photographer uses the camera/tools/equipment that helps them make photographs with as little friction as possible, in order to be more prolific and to make more photos. The photographer doesn’t care too much about sharpness or image quality/resolution.

The photographer builds his/her own visual acuity

The photographer rather cares about their own personal visual acuity— whether their eyes are sensitive to the world around them, and whether they can spot and identify potentially good photo-opportunities.

The photographer doesn’t need approval from others



The photographer doesn’t seek for anyone’s approval. The photographer only seeks approval from him/herself. The photographer stays motivated this way, and is always encouraged to push him/herself to the next level, to fulfill his/her own vision in photography/visual art.

The photographer is a philosopher

Selfie with Olympus Pen-F (has EVF/LCD screen)

The photographer is ultimately a visual philosopher — trying to discover deeper truth, beauty, and art in life, using his/her camera as his/her pen and sword.

Self-portrait essay of myself


This my own self-examination of my soul in photography.

What is your soul as a photographer?


Photography Philosophy

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