Why I Made My First Online Course: Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography on Udemy

Dear friend,

I am very excited to share the news of my first online course, “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Photography” on Udemy. First of all, I wanted to share why I made the course, and why enrolling in the course will inspire, motivate, and empower you in your photography!

What is the story behind the course?

Golden Triangle in yellow x Cindy

To start off, let me tell the story of how this course came into fruition.

I’ve always been passionate about learning and education. When I was younger, I was empowered by all of my teachers, mentors, and guides in my local community. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to evolve into the young man that I am.

Ever since I was a kid, I loved sharing my knowledge, experiences, and skills. I remember in the early days of the Internet, I was so awe-struck that there were so many people online willing to dedicate hours of their own effort to help others. For example, I was really into the arcade fighting game, “Marvel vs Capcom”. I wanted to get better at the game, and wanted to learn all the combos and moves. When I was around 11 years old, I got my first computer, and got AOL 3.0, and connected online via my 28.8k modem. I discovered “gamefaqs.com” in the early days, where the guides and walkthroughs and cheat codes were all written purely in .txt files (pure ASCII), including joystick moves. I learned how to master Marvel vs Capcom, flawlessly pulling off 20+ hit combos in the air, and thought to myself, “Maybe one day I could write my own guide.”

When I was around 12 years old and in Bayside, Queens in New York, the popular computer game was “Gunbound”, like the strategy game “Worms” in which you have a tank, and calculate your shooting trajectory and calculate wind strength, and shoot other tanks. I learned all these complex formulas to calculate how to hit your opponent every time, and I wrote one of the first popular and viral online guides on how to master using the “Lightning” bot. I dedicated countless hours drawing my own diagrams on the computer in Photoshop, and sharing these guides to these online Gunbound forums. I got great joy empowering other players, because other players have also empowered me in the past.

Fast forward a bit, I still remember when I applied to college, I wrote my college admission essay on Gandhi, on “Being the change which you wish to see in the world.” I was passionate about empowerment; discovering knowledge, information, and wisdom, and sharing it with others.

My passion is teaching, and empowering you!

Fast forward a lot. I’ve written over 4,000+ blog posts on this blog from 2010-2018. I’ve made over 500+ videos on my YouTube channel. I’ve made over 20+ ebooks, dozens of free Lightroom presets, and I’m still going.

Around late 2017, Cindy got an email from Udemy, an online learning platform saying that they were building up their photography channel, and asked if I was interested. I was very excited for the opportunity, because I’ve always wanted to make a comprehensive online course, but never had the right platform to use. In 2014, I made my own open source online street photography course, “All the world’s a stage”, which was an offshoot of an online extension course I did for UC Riverside. I even put the lectures online on YouTube, but found that YouTube, Facebook, and this blog wasn’t a good platform for online learning. There wasn’t a really good way to integrate activities, and to have a place where you could get real feedback on your photos. Also, YouTube is notoriously bad for online learning, because it is a distracting experience; all of the “related videos” on the sidebar on YouTube prevent you from getting in the flow of just focusing on one course.

Massive brainpower and collaborative work to make this course great!

Working with Udemy was awesome.

First of all, huge thanks to Sonia Kim who helped guide Cindy and me in making the course. Her pro expertise on audio, visual, and coursework was top-notch. She studied her masters in Education, and she was able to bridge that gap into online learning. I was a newbie to online learning via video platforms, and she helped train me make the best possible videos.

Not only that, but Cindy was phenomenal. Seriously. If you don’t know Cindy yet, she’s my life partner, wife, and life. She is the mastermind behind HAPTIC INDUSTRIES, and has produced dozens of products in our HAPTIC SHOP and on Amazon, she has directed many of my films on YouTube, she was the creator of ERIC KIM FORUM, and so much more. Did I also mention that she started her own feminist online library, her own academic website/blog, she’s getting a PhD in Vietnamese history at UC Berkeley, writing her dissertation on the road, and also running HAPTIC?

Anyways, Cindy effectively made the course. She did all the directing, lighting, audio visual setup, recording, and was the program director/producer of the course. She was the one who motivated, pumped me up, fed me great food and coffee, during our 1-month intensive retreat in Marseille, where we worked 12-14 hour days to make the course. Not only that, but she was the head liaison with Sonia and the Udemy team, to make the course the epic course that it is.

Why not just watch YouTube videos?

The question you might have is,

“Why take this online course, when I can just get all the videos and stuff online for free?”

You are right in the sense that I have lots of great free books, articles, and videos you can already access, to empower yourself as a photographer. After all, that is my life’s mission: to share my knowledge in photography to empower individuals to find more happiness, joy, and empowerment in their everyday lives.

However the benefits of attending my online Udemy course are many. Some reasons:

  1. Organization, editing, and flow: This is my theory: in the future (and right now), there is almost too much free information. We don’t possibly have enough time, energy, attention, or resources to consume and integrate all of this information. Therefore, we pay a premium for editing, organization, and flow of information. For example, I will buy an author’s book like Jaron Lanier’s “Dawn of the new everything” even though I could get all of his thoughts on virtual reality and society online. But the reason why I bought his ebook on the iBooks store for my iPad for $15 is this: the information is all well-edited, curated, and put into a good flow. I’m willing to pay that premium for access to his knowledge. Not only that, but I like Jaron Lanier, and want to help support him.
  2. Engaging online/“real life” activities: To me, an “activity” shouldn’t be some mindless and boring task given to you in elementary school. Instead, I see the purpose of human activity is to make art!. Thus, anything that can cause us to act, do, and create art is a good thing! In the Ultimate Beginners Course to Mastering Photography course, Cindy and I worked long and hard to think of simple activities and assignments that will encourage you to make photos, have fun, and challenge yourself in a delightful and childlike way. Not only that, but by linking the Udemy activities to the ERIC KIM FORUM, you can (finally) get real and honest feedback on your photos (something that you will never have access to by simply uploading your photos to Facebook and Instagram to only have your friends tell you, “great shot!”). Each activity will give you the opportunity to share your photos, get real feedback, and also join an empowering community of like-minded photographers, dedicated and devoted to learning, sharing, and empowering one another.
  3. The Udemy app is awesome: Okay, if you’ve never heard of Udemy or used their phone or tablet app, you’re missing out. If you’re busy, commuting a lot, you can stream all of the online video lessons in the course straight to your phone, almost like watching Netflix on your phone, except you are doing something artistically productive/empowering. Seriously, download the Udemy app in the App Store or Android play store, and search for “Eric Kim Photography” in the app, and signup with the “SPECIALBONUS” coupon code to get 50% off the course. I would recommend you to learn from the course anywhere and everywhere to improve your photography; whether you’re bored at work, during your lunch break, during your morning or evening commute, when you’re standing in line at the grocery store, or on the treadmill at the gym. I know how busy we all are in our everyday lives, and having a great streaming experience/app that we can access on our devices is great.
  4. You support me and Cindy: I currently make my living teaching workshops, selling products, and I’ve been working hard to find new ways to support me and Cindy’s creative ventures. If you signup for this course, it will help Cindy and me a lot financially, which will help you continue getting all these great and free content on the blog, on YouTube, and to also continue supporting other up and coming artists like ANNETTE KIM, who Cindy currently employs through HAPTIC. I don’t know about you, but I often get a fuzzy “feel good” feeling when I know that my money is going directly to the artists and creators I love and support. Even though I can download and stream free music, albums, and books, I always still try to purchase music or art directly from artists. It is almost a badge of honor for myself, to recognize to myself that I’m a “true fan”, and that my money is actually going to help someone I actually care about (instead of these cold and soulless mega corporations). And to be frank, my ultimate goal in life is supporting open source knowledge and information in photography and life, and making money from Ultimate Beginners Guide to Mastering Photography will help me continue paying the bills, and innovating for all photographers.
  5. Taking it back to basics, and resparking our initial joy in photography: For myself, making this course was humbling, because it forced me to take my photography back to first principles, back to the basics, and back to fundamentals and ask myself, “Why do I make photos? For whom do I make photos for? And if I started photography all over again in 2018, what do I wish I knew, or what advice would I give myself? What new or innovative things would I try out?” I am not sure what your skill level/experience in photography is; whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced photographer. But funny enough, I think if you consider yourself an intermediate/advanced photographer, you will benefit most from this “beginner” course. Why? Because, when we get more advanced and build our expertise in photography, we start to become more close-minded, we worry too much about technical and equipment stuff instead of the uninhibited beginner’s joy of shooting, and we get trapped in “Expert’s mind”. The zen monk Shunryu Suzuki once said, “In the mind of the expert, there are only a few options. But in the mind of the beginner, the options are unlimited.” I know from my personal experience, the more “expert-minded” I became in my photography, the more inhabited, the more stressed, and the less motivated I felt. After deleting my Instagram, I now feel free and liberated again, and have been shooting with so much more passion and enthusiasm, just like when I was a beginner! Therefore, the course Ultimate Beginners Guide will do just that: help respark your initial passion, and pure Beginner-mind in photography.

To be honest, I could go on and on about this course. I’ve put my heart and soul into making this course, and if you enroll in the course, you will be able to feel my passion and enthusiasm.

Life is short. To me, photography is all about memento mori— remember that we will and must die. To me, the more I can shoot like a beginner, without any preconceived notions, without any “rules” or notions, the better.

Take it back to basics with your photography with Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography, and re-embark on your personal journey to mastering photography for yourself.


SPECIAL BONUS: Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Photography Course Bundle

As a SPECIAL BONUS to the community here, we wanted to present a special early access discounted course AND resources to you at a special price of $99.99.


Click here to enroll or enter the promo code “SPECIALBONUS” for the discounted course price and bundled PDF Resources. This special bonus offer is only available for a limited time and expires May 6, 2018.

Note: After enrolling, please download these books before May 6, 2018 in Section 2 Setup (Lecture 5). After this deadline the resources will no longer be available for download.

​Excited to have you in the course!
Eric, Cindy, Annette