The Joyful Photographer

My mom. Busan, 2013
My mom. Busan, 2013

Dear friend,

The world is full of pain and suffering — we all know that. But in spite of the pain, sorrow, and despair in the world — can you still see pure light, opportunity, joy, and reasons to rejoice?

I think you can.

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What is joy?

First of all, what is joy?

To me, joy is an exuberant feeling. An active feeling. Joy is having the mindset of finding beauty everywhere in the world. Joy is the feeling of gratitude of being alive. Joy is the feeling you have when you are actively making stuff, actively learning, and actively making photo art.

To me, joy is beyond mere pleasure. Joy is the reason we live.

To me, being a photographer is all about thanksgiving. Thanksgiving to have been born, and thanksgiving that we are alive.

Couple in Houston, Texas. 2015
Couple in Houston, Texas. 2015

To be a photographer is such a great gift. You have infinite miles all around the globe to explore, infinite numbers of people to meet and interact with, and an infinite number of photographs to shoot!

Red cowboy. Santa Monica, 2014

To me, as a photographer, I think true joy is to see more possibilities and opportunity than boundaries and restrictions. This is why beginner photographers are often more playful, upbeat, and optimistic than “pro” photographers. Professional photographers know TOO MUCH about the photographic rules, and fall victim to “experts mind”. They see more restrictions than opportunity. Pro photographers know all the great photography work that has been done before them, thus they get discouraged.

But once again remember friend — we should embark on our own photography adventures, regardless of whether it has been done or not before. Because, YOU HAVEN’T DONE IT BEFORE! Thus it is worth you doing it for yourself, to learn via first-handed experience, and to explore on your own.

Never stop being a beginner

Couple at dinner. Lansing, Michigan 2014
Couple at dinner. Lansing, Michigan 2014

For me, true joy in photography is to approach everyday like you were a beginner, or like a child seeing the streets for the first time. Rather than becoming habituated to our surroundings, what if we shot everything like it were the first time we saw or experienced it?

Berkeley car wash, urban landscape, 2014
Berkeley car wash, urban landscape, 2014

Trust me, no matter how exotic your city, or cool your neighborhood, you will become habituated/“used to it” within at least 3 months. Just moving to Tokyo, London, or New York won’t cause you to be infinitely inspired (trust me, I’ve tried).

The secret is this:

Finding photographic opportunities regardless of where you are. Whether you’re in the countryside, the suburbs, the city, or stuck in the office, or at home, or during your commute.

Photography as a tool of thanksgiving

Black Mary and Jesus

Friend, can you always find reasons to sing, praise life, and dance? Do you carry your camera with you everywhere you go, and shoot, and take a chance? Do you see life with excitement, elatement, hope, and joy or do you get distracted hoping to buy new toys?

Galaxy and orange cone. Downtown la, 2014
Galaxy and orange cone. Downtown la, 2014

Realize that life is beautiful. Never stop shooting and finding beauty in the mundane.


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Just shoot it:

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