Dear friend,

I want to give you some practical tips and ideas on how you can shoot more photos!


Shoot more!

1. Shoot inside coffee shops

I find coffee shops some of the best places to make photos; especially street portraits of strangers.

Why? Coffee shops are awesome– not only do you get the inspiration/motivation from drinking caffeine/espresso, you also see an interesting mix of people!

I generally get stimulated by seeing a mix of people; diversity is how my creativity thrives!

I recommend you to visit a local ‘hipster’ coffee shop, because usually people have more interesting fashion. For example in Downtown LA, I recommend ‘ilcafe’ on Broadway, in San Francisco I love ‘Haus Coffee‘ in the mission, in NYC I love ‘Culture Espresso’ (near Bryant Park), in Melbourne I love ‘Slater Street: Bench Coffee‘ (shout out to my buddy Nick Chen), and I could go on and on with coffee shops, but I will spare you.

Anyways, usually when I travel I just Google Maps: “Hipster coffee shop” or “espresso”, and I visit new coffee shops. I chat with locals, and whenever I see folks I find interesting, I compliment them on their look, and ask for permission to “make their portrait”. Most people are cool with it!

2. Always have your camera on your neck or your wrist

Practical tip: if you want to make more photos, always have your camera around your neck (HENRI Shoulder Strap or HENRI Neck Strap), or a wrist strap (Henri WRIST STRAP, or ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP for RICOH GR II).

I don’t think it is enough to always have your camera with you. Your camera is useless if it is stored inside your bag. Your camera is only useful when it is on your neck or your wrist.

Let me give you an example: I always carry my camera with me everywhere I go. For a while I would just keep my camera in my backpack or bag. But the problem is that whenever I saw a moment, I would be too slow to pull the camera out of my bag. If you’re a gun-slinger in the wild Wild West, you always need to have your gun ready!

For example, I’m currently using the HENRI WRIST STRAP on my Lumix G9. I was in Downtown LA with my buddies Brandon Phan and Peter Phan, and the second we stepped out of our car in the parking lot, I saw the parking attendant, and wanted to make his portrait!

Fortunately, I already had my camera strapped around my wrist, so I had less “friction” to approach him, to ask to make his portrait!

3. Shoot photos from the car (if you’re a passenger)

If you live in the West, especially traffic-ridden Los Angeles; you are probably spending a lot of time in a car. Assuming you’re a passenger in the car, shoot photos from inside your car, looking out!

Or this is quite dangerous (I’ve done it a few times), when I’m driving (I keep my camera in my passenger side), I will take some photos while parked at a stop light:

Another inspirational project: “America by Car” by Lee Friedlander, who took all his photos from inside his car, when traveling across America!

4. Go to conventions/shows

A fun thing to photograph: conventions and shows!

For example, one year I went to the New York Auto Show; and found so many interesting things to shoot!

Or in other words:

Go to where a lot of people convene/gather! You are more likely to see something interesting to photograph.

Look at the local news, and whenever there is an interesting show or convention, attend, and bring your camera along!

5. Shoot at restaurants/bars/food establishments

We all gotta eat. When you’re eating a restaurant, fast food place, bar, wherever– know you can make lots of photos!

Either shoot photos candidly (without permission), or ask for permission!

Or just shoot outside, signs, anything interesting to you:

6. Gas station

When I was doing a road trip across America, I actually found myself making lots of photos at gas stations; either strangers I met inside the gas station, or just of the gas stations themselves!

Or one of my favorite photos: from the road trip on the 5 (Nor-cal to So-cal), stopping by the Chevon in Kettleman City, filling up our gas, about to get In and Out burger:

Or just look for interesting details or things you see at the gas station:

Or photograph gas prices:

I also really like the photos of Gas Stations by Robert Frank in his ‘Americans’ project:

7. Grocery Store/Costco/Walmart/IKEA

If you’re an American, going to grocery stores (big places like Costco or Walmart), theres so many opportunities to shoot inside!

For example, I was at Walmart in the suburbs of LA, and had my camera around my neck, and this guy started to chat with me, and I started to make his portrait!

Another idea: just photograph stuff at the checkout counter, like these grocery bags I shot in Lansing, Michigan (what do they look like?)

Or outside, just simple grocery carts (at sunset):

Or like this social-commentary photo I shot of this ‘out of order’ online employment machine (also in Lansing, Michigan):

A photo I shot inside IKEA:

8. Elevator

When you’re in an elevator with other people; if you see someone interesting– just ask them for permission for their portrait!

Or when you’re with your partner, shoot a portrait of them inside (often the light is really nice). For example, when I was in an elevator with Cindy, I just asked her to look up!

Another example from Robert Frank: his famous ‘elevator girl’ photo:

9. Hotel

Andy Warhol once said something like, “I love being in hotel lobbies, because you can be fancy without actually staying there.”

I actually get similar inspiration from hotel lobbies. You get lots of interesting folks in hotel lobbies, and I often shoot candid photos (pretending to be a lost tourist) or I just ask for permission:

10. Bathroom/Toilet

I first got this idea from Robert Frank, when seeing this photo of his:

Lesson: You can really take interesting photos anywhere!

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