Don’t Share Dull Photos

Dear friend,

A suggestion when you’re working on photography projects, or selecting/editing your best work. Don’t share dull/boring photos:

I had this idea when reading Nassim Taleb‘s new ‘Skin in the game’ book, where in his preface he mentions that he wrote his book to be a “non-dull” reading experience. Which is interesting to me– because we don’t always know what is ‘exciting’ or ‘good’, but we generally know what is dull/boring.


Eric kim iPad trace city of angels

Of course, what is dull/boring for me isn’t always dull and boring to you.

So the practical recommendation is this:

Don’t share any of your own photos that you find boring/dull.


Eric kim sketch iPad Pro city of angels - composition -

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole, studying the etymology of the word, ‘dull’.

Upon going to Wiktionary, I learned the definition of ‘dull‘:

Proto-Indo-European *dʰwel-, *dʰewel- (“to dim, dull, cloud, make obscure, swirl, whirl”)

To dull means (in proto-indo-European) to ‘dim, cloud, make obscure’. Which means, dull things lack sharpness or clarity.

Eric kim sketch iPad Pro city of angels - composition -  leading lines

What is the opposite of dull? Sharp — able to cut easily.

But interesting enough, the word ‘sharp’ goes into Latin with the word ‘acerbic’ (bitter/sour), which I find interesting, because we usually relate ‘sharp’ as knives, not a ‘sharp’ taste. More info on the word ‘acer‘ (which also happened to be the name of my first computer – the ‘Acer Aspire’ — which is a good name now that I think about it).


Eric kim sketch iPad Pro city of angels - composition -  triangle lowrider

Anyways, I don’t think you can control whether your photos will be ‘interesting’ or ‘boring’ when you’re out shooting. The only way is through the editing/selecting process.

You have bundles upon bundles of hay (all your thousands of photos), and you have to find the few golden needles within (your good photos).


Eric kim sketch iPad Pro city of angels - composition -  triangle lowrider

So as a practical takeaway– recognize the fact that you cannot always control whether you will make good photos or not when you’re on the streets. Rather, be diligent when you’re combing through your photos, and seek to only share photos that you find interesting, meaningful, and non-dull!


Here is a selection of more of my photos from my ‘CITY OF ANGELS‘ project — painted on top with the iPad Screenshot tool. Here is a video tutorial of me doing it with Henri Cartier Bresson’s Photos:

Kind of similar to what William Klein did with his contact sheets (he painted on top of his contact sheets, and made these artwork in itself):


CITY OF ANGELS


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  2. ONLY IN AMERICA by ERIC KIM
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Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Mastering Street Photography
Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography
  1. HOW TO SEE: Visual Guide to Composition, Color, & Editing in Photography / Kindle Edition
  2. Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography / Kindle Edition
  3. STREET HUNT / Kindle Edition
  4. STREET NOTES: Mobile Edition / Kindle Edition
  5. MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER / Kindle Edition

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  2. Dynamic Composition Manual
  3. Photography Startup Manual
  4. PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS
  5. PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP MANUAL by ERIC KIM
  6. STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MANUAL by ERIC KIM
  7. THE PHOTOGRAPHER by ERIC KIM
  8. The Art of Street Photography
  9. 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
  10. Zen Photography
  11. Personal Photography Manual
  12. Street Photography Contact Sheets Volume II
  13. Street Photography Contact Sheets Volume I
  14. Street Photography Composition Manual
  15. Street Portrait Manual
  16. Street Photography 101
  17. Street Photography 102
  18. Color Manual
  19. Monochrome Manual
  20. 31 Days to Overcome Your Fear in Street Photography
  21. Letters From a Street Photographer
  22. Street Photography Aphorisms, Heuristics, and Sayings

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If you want a quality-education in street photography, I recommend either buying, borrowing, or browsing though some of the books below. Books that are bolded are some of my personal favorites.

  1. Magnum Contact Sheets
  2. Magnum: Degrees
  3. Magnum: Stories
  4. Mark Cohen: Grim Street
  5. Street Photography Now
  6. Bruce Davidson: Subway
  7. Bruce Davidson: East 100th Street
  8. Diane Arbus: A monograph
  9. Helen Levitt
  10. Lee Friedlander: Friedlander
  11. Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best
  12. Richard Kalvar: Earthlings
  13. Andre Kertesz (Editions Hazan)
  14. Robert Frank: The Americans
  15. Garry Winogrand: Public Relations
  16. Garry Winogrand: Figments from the real world
  17. Garry Winogrand: The Animals
  18. Bruce Gilden by Stern Magazine
  19. Bruce Gilden: A Beautiful Catastrophe
  20. Bruce Gilden: Haiti
  21. Bruce Gilden: After The Off
  22. Bruce Gilden: Facing New York
  23. Bystander: A History of Street Photography
  24. Joel Meyerowitz
  25. Jun Abe: Citizens
  26. William Eggleston: Chromes
  27. William Eggleston: Guide
  28. William Eggleston: Before Color
  29. Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places
  30. Daido Moriyama: The World Through My Eyes
  31. Alex Webb: Istanbul
  32. Alex Webb: The Suffering Of Light
  33. Jeff Mermelstein: Sidewalk
  34. Walker Evans
  35. Fred Herzog: Photographs
  36. Vivian Maier
  37. William Klein: Contacts
  38. Joel Sternfeld: American Prospects
  39. Martin Parr: The Last Resort
  40. Martin Parr: Small World
  41. Tony Ray-Jones: Best Of
  42. Josef Koudelka: Gypsies
  43. Anders Peterson: French Kiss
  44. Anders Petersen: Cafe Lehmitz
  45. Zoe Strauss: America
  46. Henri Cartier-Bresson: “The Decisive Moment”
  47. Josef Koudelka: Exiles
  48. Anders Petersen
  49. The Education of a Photographer
  50. David Hurn: On Being a Photographer
  51. David Gibson: The Street Photographer’s Manual
  52. Siegfried Hansen – hold the line
  53. Matt Stuart: All that Life Can Afford
  54. The Photographer’s Playbook: 307 Assignments and Ideas
  55. Trent Parke: Minutes to Midnight
  56. Trent Parke: The Christmas Tree Bucket
  57. Trent Parke: The Black Rose
  58. Harry Gruyaert
  59. Gus Powell: The Lonely Ones
  60. Alec Soth: Songbook
  61. Ping Pong Conversations: Alec Soth with Francesco Zanot
  62. Constantine Manos: A Greek Portfolio
  63. Constantine Manos: American Color
  64. Constantine Manos: American Color 2
  65. David Alan Harvey: Divided Soul
  66. Photographers’ Sketchbooks
  67. Harry Callahan: Retrospective
  68. Slide Show: The Color Photographs of Helen Levitt
  69. Mark Cohen: Frame
  70. Saul Leiter: Early Color
  71. Saul Leiter: Early Black and White
  72. Dan Winters: Road to Seeing
  73. Todd Hido: Photography Workshop Series
  74. Mary Ellen Mark: Photography Workshop Series
  75. The Open Road: Photography and the American Roadtrip
  76. Jason Eskenazi: Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith
  77. Kaushal Parikh: “Fragments of a Spinning Rock”
  78. Sunlanders by Sean Lotman

Free Books by Eric Kim

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If you love learning, read the books below:

  1. 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
  2. Street Photography by Eric Kim
  3. Photography by Eric Kim
  4. Personal Photography Manual
  5. Street Photography Contact Sheets Volume II
  6. Street Photography Contact Sheets
  7. Monochrome Manual
  8. Street Portrait Manual
  9. Street Photography Composition Manual
  10. How to Overcome Photographer’s Block
  11. Street Photography 101
  12. Street Photography 102
  13. Zen in the Art of Street Photography
  14. Film Street Photography Manual
  15. 31 Days to Overcome Your Fear in Street Photography

Street Notes

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Street Notes is a pocket-sized assignment journal to break outside of your comfort zone:

STREET HUNT: Street Notes Volume 2 Scavenger Hunt Edition

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