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Dear friend,

I was walking down the street of my boring suburban LA neighborhood, with the Lumix G9 Pro strapped around my wrist with the classic Henri Wrist Strap, and had the thought:

The great thing about photography is the zen-like state that it gives you. That you disappear. You’re in the “Zen zone” of walking on the streets, and you lose a sense of yourself. You are totally perceptive of the world around you, and your visual-motor-cortex is in overdrive. You see and perceive all the beauty of the world around you, and you stay focused on re-arranging the visual building blocks of reality, to make your own unique art.


How to shoot more photos

So I think the secret is this:

Create the least amount of possible friction between yourself, your eyes, your hand, and the photo-making process.

For example what I mean is this:

  1. Always have your camera on your neck or wrist: The reason Cindy and I made the new HENRI SHOULDER STRAP is to make sure you have your camera always ready BEFORE you see an interesting decisive/moment photo opportunity. I do truly believe that photography is all about regret-minimization. I’ve missed a billion photo opportunities in the past because I didn’t have my camera either on my neck or wrist, and therefore missed a ton of photo-opportunities as a result. By having my camera always around my neck with the HENRI SHOULDER STRAP or the HENRI WRIST STRAP, I end up shooting more photos. And the more photos I shoot, the happier I am!
  2. Using the simplest possible settings on your camera (‘set it and forget it!’): I’ve been using the Lumix G9 Pro and Leica 12mm f/1.4 Lens in “IA MODE” (intelligent auto), which the camera automatically chooses your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus. And it works phenomenally well — it allows me to think less about the technical settings, and focus more on the creative act of actually framing, composition, and timing (when to click the shutter). Not only that, but I’ve been shooting in JPEG (medium size, around 3000px wide) so I can worry less about the processing afterwards (I just import my photos into my laptop with Lightroom Classic CC, and apply the ‘ERIC KIM CHROMA’ presets upon import.
  3. No phone or music: I think photography/street photography is all about a ‘zen walking meditation’. For myself, when I walk without a phone (only using my “stand-alone” camera), and when I don’t listen to music — I can let my mind wander, and I actually see more photo-opportunities! My theory is that the less you bombard your mind with music-auditory inputs, and the less distractions you have on your phone, you can just become more perceptive to the world around you! Therefore, I recommend you to unplug when you’re out shooting photos. Turn off your phone completely, or if you shoot photos on your phone, switch your phone to airplane mode. I would also recommend shooting photos without headphones on. Sometimes shooting with headphones can be good to get you into the groove of making photos, but when you have your headphones off, you can over-hear interesting conversations, you can hear the beauty of the ambient sounds of the world (birds chirping, rustle of trees in the wind), or practical benefits (hearing cars driving by, so you don’t get hit and die — I almost got hit by a car once while shooting photos with headphones on and I wasn’t paying attention//couldn’t hear the sound of incoming cars).


Why walk?

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A thought I’ve been pondering to myself recently: Why walk?

I mean to say this:

Do humans need to walk in order to survive/thrive?

In today’s world where we can just drive everywhere or take a bicycle/motorcycle/motorbike/scooter anywhere — what is the practical function of walking?

My theory is this: much of the human brain has evolved to coordinate our bi-ped movement (it is really hard for an organism to balance on two legs). And the reason why humans perhaps evolved to walk on two legs is to free up our hands (hands to do more intellectual stuff). And therefore if we don’t walk, perhaps we will get some sort of mental-problems/dysfunctions in our mind.

If you look at organisms that need to move in order to procure food, they all have brains. Look at plants (no brains); they don’t need to move in order to get food — they just get it from the soil and the sun.

Why I love walking

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I know for myself I come up with the best ideas while I’m walking. Many philosophers in the past have said similar things:

  • “The best thoughts are conceived while walking!” – Nietzsche
  • “To first become a philosopher, start by taking long [pointless] walks.” – Nassim Taleb

Not only that, but if you’re a street photographer, you can only make photos if you’re walking! Therefore as a practical idea: the more you walk, the more street photos you will shoot!

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I know the excuse a lot of us (myself included) make in our photography is that our neighborhood is boring, and therefore we don’t find inspiration/motivation to shoot. Living in the suburbs of LA, I know the feeling.

But I’m pretty amazed: even though my neighborhood is boring, whenever I walk (even around the block for 10 minutes) with my camera on my neck or in my hand, I will always see photo-opportunities! Whereas if I’m simply driving, I don’t see anything. And if I walk around the block without my camera, I generally regret it– because I will end up seeing something I want to photograph (But unfortunately, I don’t have my camera on me).

The smaller the camera, the more photos you will shoot!

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I still believe the RICOH GR II is the best camera for most people as an ‘everyday’/’street photography’ camera. Why? It is small, compact, has phenomenal image quality (APS-C/DSLR-sensor), has an integrated flash, and a great 28mm prime lens.

I’ve shot with the Ricoh GR II for a long time, but the problem was always having it with me. After seeing my friend Wilder travel with his RICOH GR II in Vietnam with a neck strap, I wanted a neck strap as well, but couldn’t find any which were compatible with the RICOH GR II (the Ricoh doesn’t have the traditional lug-nuts of most cameras, but rather requires a small nylon string).

Therefore, I worked closely with Cindy and our friend Lan in Saigon, to design and make the ERIC KIM NECK STRAP (compatible with the RICOH GR II). This was awesome, I started to shoot SO MUCH MORE with the RICOH, because the camera was always around my neck.

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Why are you shooting with a Lumix?

lumix g9 pro gopro and eric kim shoulder strap.jpg

Since about a month ago (my RICOH died after about a million photos, the aperture blades get stuck) I got the Lumix G9 Pro (because I wanted to shoot more videos for my YouTube channel), and have been loving the new HENRI SHOULDER STRAP. We designed the new Henri Shoulder Strap to be longer (can be worn around the shoulder/cross-body), and also increased the size of the neck pad (which is good for the heavier Lumix G9 camera).

I’m also becoming a pretty big proponent of the Micro 4/3rds system. Why? The image quality is phenomenal, the cameras are smaller, and the autofocus is insanely fast and accurate! It is seriously the best sensor (in my opinion) for everyday/street photography. I am still a big fan of digital medium format, but to be frank I think ‘full-frame’ is overrated (either go with a really small sensor like a phone, Micro 43rds, or go REALLY BIG with a digital-medium-format).


What is the best camera?

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Once again remember, the most important thing about a camera is for it to disappear. The best camera is frictionless, always with you, and you can shoot without thinking. The less you can think, and the more you can let the photograph shoot itself; the better.

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The world is so full of beautiful moments, beautiful people, and beautiful matter– just waiting for you to photograph it!

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There are so many ripe stories for you to tell through your photography. Never let the weight or cumbersomeness of the camera hold you back. Never stop exploring, walking, and shooting new photos! Your creative life thrives on the NEW! Never stop innovating in your photography, by adopting new technologies (like 3d/augmented reality), and new places for you to travel to and explore!

YOU HAVE NO LIMITS!
ERIC


Straps by HAPTIC INDUSTRIES

Discover all of the camera straps made by HAPTIC INDUSTRIES:

New Henri Shoulder Strap (available in CREMA BROWN + PHANTOM BLACK)

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Henri Wrist Strap (Classic)

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Henri Neck Strap (Classic OG)

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Limited-Edition Henri CHROMA Wrist Straps

Leica x Henri Wrist Strap Chroma (by Luis Casadevall)

HENRI CHROMA Wrist Straps: available for a limited time in HAPTIC SHOP + Amazon.


ERIC KIM NECK STRAP (Compatible with RICOH GR II)

eric kim neck strap ricoh gr ii


ERIC KIM Wrist Strap (Compatible with RICOH GR II)

eric kim wrist strap


EQUIPMENT by ERIC KIM

There is no “perfect” camera. Don’t fall into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and falsely believe that buying a new camera will make you a better photographer.

If you’re not feeling inspired in your photography, I recommend you to buy books, not gear. Also check out these 75+ Inspirational Photo Books You Gotta Buy. You can also download my free books.

Equipment Articles >

Smartphone Photography >

Film Photography 101 >


My favorite camera for street photography

There is no perfect camera for street photography and everyone’s tastes are different. My favorite camera for street photography is the Ricoh GR II.

1x1.trans Street Photography Camera Game Changer: The Ricoh GRD V
The Ricoh GR II is the best bang-for-the-buck camera for street photography on the market. It has an APS-C sensor (DSLR-sized sensor), a super-sharp 28mm lens (no anti-aliasing filter), and literally fits into your front pocket.

The Ricoh GR II is pretty much the same as the prior Ricoh GR, except it has Wi-Fi built in.

Why do I recommend the Ricoh GR II?

First of all, for street photography you want the smallest, most compact, and inconspicuous camera (that you can always carry with you). I find that with other digital cameras, you end up never carrying them with you 24/7, simply because they are too big. The Fujifilm X100F and digital Leica’s are fantastic tools, but honestly even those cameras are too big to fit in your front pocket.

In street photography, the size of the sensor is also not very important. In-fact, having a non-full frame camera is generally preferable, because you have more depth-of-field in street photography, which is beneficial to “zone-focusing.”

When I shoot with the Ricoh GR II, I generally keep the camera on “P” mode, ISO 1600, and center-point autofocus. I treat it like a point-and-shoot: I simply point and click. This makes me have to think less when shooting, and spend more energy focusing on the composition, framing, and capturing emotion in the photos.

Many photographers bemoan the fact that the Ricoh GR II doesn’t have a viewfinder. Honestly, I feel that viewfinders are a bit overrated — the LCD screen helps you be more creative with your compositions (shooting super-low angle, or a super-high angle), and also helps you photograph your subjects closer (putting a small compact camera close to someone’s face is less intimidating than putting a big DSLR lens into someone’s face).

Also if you want, the Ricoh GR II has a fantastic “snap mode” which allows you to pre-focus to a certain distance (1 meter, 1.5 meters, 5 meters, infinity), which is like zone-focusing on a rangefinder camera. This means when you’re shooting on the streets on a sunny day, you can set your pre-focus to 1.5 meters, ISO 1600, aperture-priority mode in f/8, and take photos that are all sharp and in-focus.

In addition, the Ricoh GR II has the simplest yet comprehensive menu out of any digital camera I’ve used. You can change the function buttons, you can change whether the power lamp is on or off, and everything in the menu is easily searchable. I believe the Ricoh GR II was designed by photographers, not simply by engineers.

The camera is extremely affordable, which means you can save all your hard-earned cash on buying experiences, not stuff. Use that money to travel to a country you’ve always wanted to travel, to buy photography books, and to invest in photography-education (workshops, classes, seminars).

Furthermore, you can charge the camera via USB, which means you don’t need to travel with a bulky battery-charger. As long as you keep the camera off while you’re not shooting on the streets, one battery should last you a full day.

If you end up buying the camera, I recommend picking up a 3” LCD screen protector, shooting in RAW, and using my free Lightroom film simulation presets.


Best Equipment by ERIC KIM

eric kim photographer hanoi portrait by cindy a nguyen
LINDBERG glasses / UNIQLO button-up / UNIQLO jeans-joggers / Nike Flyknight Motion RN

This is a list of my personal favorite equipment in photography, computers, and life:

Of course, this list probably won’t apply to you — but this is advice I would give myself (if I needed to buy stuff):

Cameras

My favorite cameras:

Digital cameras:

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7030

Best value digital camera for street photography

Fujifilm X100F Review // Buy on Amazon for $1300 >

Best digital compact camera

Ricoh GR II Review // Buy on Amazon for $600 >

Best 3-inch screen protector

For Ricoh GR II: Expert Shield 3” LCD protector ($14)

Best designed mirrorless camera

Olympus Pen F (silver): $1200 + Olympus 17mm f/1.8 Lens: $500 //my review

Best value mirrorless camera

Fujifilm XT-2 ($1600) + Fujinon XF23mmF2 WR Lens ($450)

Best digital rangefinder

Leica M10 + Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH Lens

Best digital video camera

Sony A7S II ($2700) + Sony 35mm F2.8 Sonnar ($800)

Best SD card

Transcend 128 GB SD card UHS-3: $73

Best fashion digital camera

Pentax Medium-format digital 645Z ($6500) + Pentax 55mm F2.8 AL ($960) // 7 Lessons I’ve Learned Shooting Fashion Photography For the First Time


Film cameras

If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.

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Portrait by Benjamin Thompson // Leica MP + Henri Neck Strap + SF 24D flash + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH lens

Best film rangefinder

Leica MP + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron Lens

Best affordable film rangefinder

Leica M6 + Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Lens

Best compact film camera

Contax T3

Best medium-format film camera

Fujifilm GF670 (discontinued, find on eBay)

Best black and white film

Kodak Tri-X 400 (pushed to 1600): $5

Best color film

Kodak Portra 400: $8.50

Best film scanner

For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800

For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270


Camera accessories

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7340

Best camera shoulder bag

SAIGON SATCHEL

Best camera backpack

Fits 13” Laptop and Camera: Thinktank Perception 15 (black): $120

Best photography neck strap

Best photography wrist strap


eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7189

Best photography inspiration website

MagnumPhotos.com

Best photography news blog

PetaPixel.com

Best photography software

Adobe Lightroom

Best video editing software

iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)


Books

buy books not gear eric kim

See all my free books.

Best educational photography book

Magnum Contact Sheets

Best black-and-white photography art book

“Exiles” by Josef Koudelka

Best color photography art book

“The Suffering of Light” by Alex Webb

Best photography handbook

Street Notes

Best philosophy book

On the Shortness of Life – Seneca ($8) // 10 Lessons Seneca Has Taught Me.


Best digital tools

Best laptop

Any MacBook Air or Pro

Best tablet

iPad Pro 10.5 inch, 64 gb, space grey

Best phone

iPhone X

Best value phone

iPhone SE (cheapest model): $400

Best android phone

Samsung S8

Best value android phone

OnePlus 3T ($440)


Best Mac Apps

Best writing app

IA Writer (for writing) + Ulysses (for note-taking)

Best screen recorder

Camtasia

Best image resizer

JPEGmini Pro


Audio

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Best noise-cancelling headphones

BOSE QC 35 (black): $350

Best earbuds

Apple Beats X


Apparel

Cindy Project Monochrome-3

Best watch

Casio Men’s F108WH Illuminator Collection Black Resin Strap Digital Watch: $13

Best underwear

ExOfficio Men Boxer Brief (black): $26

Best T-shirt

Outlier NYC Merino Wool T-Shirt

Best socks

Darn Tough Socks Merino Wool

Best shoes

Nike Free Flyknight RN Motion (black/white) // my review

Best pants

Merino Wool Leggings (black)

Best glasses

LINDBERG – Titanium


Finance

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7232

Best bank / credit card (USA)

Chase / Chase Sapphire credit card


Best entrepreneurial tools

Best blogging platform

WordPress.org + Genesis theme (I use the ‘Academy Pro’ theme).


Best paid online services

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7360

Best cloud storage

Dropbox (Pro)


Diet & Nutrition

Food

Intermittent fasting — with one big meal a day (only dinner)

Workout

Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups


Conclusion

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Hanoi, 2017 // Portrait by Cindy A. Nguyen

Of course this is just a list of stuff that work for me. It probably won’t work for you.

But I got inspired to make this list– because it took me about 10 years to figure out the best equipment for me. And this works for me, and I hope it can help simplify your purchasing decisions (at least in photography and some other details).

Cindy Project Monochrome-12

I’ll continue to do articles and videos related to equipment– because I do believe (up to a certain degree) having the ‘right’ equipment in life makes life easier. But the problem is falling victim to GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) where we are buying stuff for the sake of it (has happened to me).

If you already have a bunch of equipment that works for you– stick with it. But if you need some help, I hope this list helped you.

Always,
Eric

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