Don’t be afraid of controversy or ruffling the feathers of others. Pursue your own artistic vision, with no compromise — seek to satisfy yourself.
To be “notorious” is seen negatively today. We see notorious as being famous for something bad.
“Temet nosce” in Latin means, “Know thyself”— the height of Ancient Greek wisdom.
So as basic ideas, I propose:
- To know yourself is the utmost importance as a photographer. Why do you make photos? Who do you seek to please? What do you consider a beautiful photo?
- Don’t shy away from controversy as a photographer. Better to be notorious for something negative and widely known, than to be passive and to be unknown.
How to become more notorious
This is a question which has puzzled me —
What would it look like to live in a society where money didn’t exist? If money didn’t exist, what would we strive towards?
My best answers come from Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”. The ancient Greeks didn’t have money — only gold, cattle, and what they all sought was “imperishable fame”, or “unlimited notoriety”.
They were hungry for fame.
Why is fame seen as bad?
In modern (American) society, the height of success isn’t material or monetary wealth — it is fame. To be famous is more esteemed than to be rich. There are many people who are rich (plumbers) who aren’t famous. And there are many famous people who aren’t rich. And there are many people who achieved fame after they died, and also broke (Vincent Van Gogh, Vivian Maier).
I don’t want to say that seeking to be famous is for everyone. But for some of us, we indeed may be hungry for fame. I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing —
The more famous you are, the more influential you are, and the deeper impact you can make on society and the world.
Thus in short,
Fame is good.
Whether you have good or bad intentions is up to you.
Fame is power
Fame, notoriety, being widely known, and influential means you wield a lot of power. But remember what Uncle Ben taught us,
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
I think deep down inside, we all thirst for power. We seek more power, autonomy, and influence in life — either for good or evil. Once again, the morals and ethics is up to you.
Thus, if you become more famous or notorious, you become more powerful.
How you decide to use your power and influence is up to you.
Become powerful to empower others
My simple goal is this:
Become as powerful as I can during my lifetime, and seek to empower others to the maximum as well.
That means, be selfish and focused on yourself and your own life and photography-artwork, and also seek to empower others along the way.
Become powerful, and share this power with others.
You will offend others
If you’re a photographer-artist seeking to make great photos, you’re going to piss off (a lot) of people. People will either get envious-jealous of your success, or just not like the way you shoot photos, or they might not like your photos. That’s fine. The problem is that others think:
That photographer shoots differently from me, thus they are wrong.
That photographer’s photos aren’t as good as mine. Why are they so famous, renowned, and respected? I deserve that!
It’s impossible to advance as a photographer without upsetting, pissing off, or angering others. But that’s fine. Your focus is on yourself, not others.
Practical tips to build your name
Practical ideas on how to become more famous/notorious:
- Associate your real name (first name, last name — ie, ERIC KIM), and put your name on everything. If you don’t self-promote yourself, who will?
- Go ahead and “sell out”. No matter what, the more successful you get, someone will always call you a “sellout” (because they are envious that you had the guts to actually attempt to make money from your passion).
- Have pride in yourself and your photos. Don’t seek to be another photographer; seek to make photos for yourself.
- Make your own photography blog: You will get indexed by Google (SEO; search engine optimization), which means when people search for you on Google, they will find you. Open-source information will always win (long-term) over closed-source information (Instagram, Facebook, etc). Invest in yourself and build your own platform.
- Stay consistent, prolific, and never stop creating. To increase your likelihood of building your fame, produce more. I call this ‘producerism‘ (the opposite of consumerism). Spend 90% of your efforts and energy producing, creating, and publishing– and only 10% of your efforts consuming outside information. In other words, act more, think less.
Don’t intentionally try to be controversial. Instead, speak directly, and don’t self-censor yourself. Speak what is truly on your mind, even though it might piss others off.
Controversy is a good thing. The Latin word, ‘controversus‘ means Contra (against) + versus (to turn). This means, when you say or do anything in which people turn against you– that is because you have a differing opinion from the masses. And in today’s world, the best way to be courageous is to have courage-bravery in your ideas and ideals!
And the most important thing:
Don’t self-censor yourself.
Your legacy 300 years from now?
My ambition plan is this:
To have my name (ERIC KIM) and values (open-source/empowerment) to last at least 300 years.
Think very long-term game.
Don’t sacrifice your morals, ethics, and beliefs for short-term gains.
To be frank, the only thing I am personally ashamed of is when I compromised my own personal beliefs, morals, and ethics– because I was afraid of standing up for myself. Too much of my life was focused on pleasing others, instead of myself. This is one of the bad things that growing up with Catholic-Christian morality screwed me up.
Now moving forward, no more compromising. I will be flexible with the petty details of my life, but become ultimately INFLEXIBLE and STUBBORN to what I truly believe in.
Let us assume we will live to be 120 years old. This is a simple goal:
Never stop shooting until you die at 120 years old.
Assuming you will live to be 120 years old — you still have a long time to live!
Allow yourself to change, evolve, and morph in your photography. It would be insanely boring to remain the same until you die at age 120!
Try out new technologies, and continually seek to simplify your photography and artistic vision.
Be exacting with yourself– seek to create a small perfection in your photography.
Never lose heart
Courage literals means to have heart (cor=heart).
Wear your heart on your sleeve, and don’t be afraid to having others attack you. You’re stronger than you think.