Visual Training 101

Dear friend, consider this your visual gym — strengthen your visual muscles:

Download JPEG images:

Silhouette photos:
Direct Download Silhouette v1 – ERIC KIM
Dropbox Download

1. Input photos

First step: input photos with a certain aesthetic style you like.

Let us call this image set: “silhouette”:

What do you see? This is what I see:

Pre-dominance of black tones over white tones. Which means, lots of silhouettes in the photos (where the faces of the subjects are obscured in black).

Thus you can determine this as a certain ‘aesthetic style’:

  1. More than 50% of the frame is pitch-black
  2. The faces of the subjects are pitch-black (you cannot see their eyes/faces)
  3. Photos are black-and-white


Also if you’re curious, all photos shot on RICOH GR II in RAW, processed with Eric Kim MONOCHROME PRESET in Lightroom. [Download Presets] – [Learn More About Presets]

How to achieve this visual style

Then it is your job as a “human operator” to internalize this aesthetic style– and attempt it yourself! So this is what you can do in real life:

  1. Shoot with RICOH GR II in RAW (with high-contrast black and white JPEG preset) – [YouTube Setup Video]
  2. Shoot photos with -1 or -2 exposure-compensation to “crush the blacks” (make the shadows very dark).
  3. Post-process photos in Eric Kim MONOCHROME preset in Adobe Lightroom [Lightroom Workflow Tutorial] – [Download PDF]

That’s it!

2. Train

If you want to get stronger at doing deadlift, you must deadlift often (enough). The longer you train, and the more you increase the weight and resistance, the stronger you will get.

Visual muscles are the same. With machine learning, AI can train themselves millions of times a day. Unfortunately we are AI, but we can take the same principles:

Continue to self-experiment, self-play, and learn.

For example, I have applied this ‘Eric Kim Silhouette’ style to my photos of Cindy, for #CINDYPROJECT:

A simple way to think about this process:

  1. Go out and discover and find what is interesting or special to you.
  2. Photograph it (with the same high-contrast black and white settings mentioned above)
  3. Create a collection of pictures which you like, then publish them as a set or series.

I believe in photography your first million photos are your worst. But we learn in an ‘iterative’ process– the more you shoot, the better you get. Every time you click the shutter, look at a photo, process a picture, or think about visual art, you are evolving and getting better as a photographer!

3. What is your end-game?

Then this is the difficult thing in photography, art, and life:

What is your end-game?

How do you decide on using your photography in a personally-meaningful and empowering way?

Anyone can teach you how to take pictures, or train your visual muscles, but nobody can answer for you the question:

Why do I make photos?

Never stop shooting!

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