RICOH GR II, shot with Flash in macro mode

Infinite Inspiration in Photography

Dear friend,

I just got back to the “boring” suburbs of Orange County, and am super inspired again in my photography. Let me share some thoughts with you.

Dusting off my broken RICOH GR II

I heard from my friend Vern that the new Ricoh GR III isn’t going to have an integrated flash. Such a shame. A classic case of naive subtraction; Ricoh wanted to make the camera more compact (good idea), yet they cut out something essential in the camera: the flash. It’s almost like a plastic surgeon trying to help their patient lose weight by chopping off one of their arms.

Anyways, this is what is broken with my RICOH GR II:

The aperture blades are stuck when I turn on the Ricoh. Thus, to “unstick” the aperture blades, I need to take a blank photo.

It was pretty annoying when it broke in Tokyo, because it caused me to lose tons of shots. I ended up buying a new Lumix G9 while in Japan to replace my RICOH.

I really like the Lumix g9 as a camera — both for Still and video. Yet, after starting to shoot the Ricoh again, I have so much more appreciation for the Ricoh GR II.

Why? Let me explain.

Simplicity is the ultimate zenith

It is hard for me to put into words… but truly — simplicity is the ultimate zenith and highest peak we are striving towards.

I’m amazed; when I read Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey, he is able to craft the most epic story with the most simple words, phrases, and adjectives.

With the artwork of Josef Koudelka and W. Eugene Smith— I’m amazed — they were able to make the most epic photos with the simplest compositions and subject-matter.

I call this the “will to simplicity” (inspired by Nietzsche). It is our will and desire to make things as simple as possible, in order to maximize our impact.

Simple camera

The reason why the RICOH GR II is so amazing:

It is such a simple camera, yet so powerful.

It has a fucking APS-C sensor in a compact body that can fit in your front pocket! The RICOH GR II probably is the best “pound per pound” shooter. It also has an integrated flash (so so good for creativity, and opening up new photo opportunities). And the camera just looks cool; timeless design, brushed matte black, and bold lines. When I’m shooting with the RICOH GR II, I just feel cooler.

How to find inspiration to shoot

The great thing about monochrome and a simple camera like the RICOH GR II:

You can make beautiful and elegant photos in the most boring places!

For example, all the pictures in this post are shot with RICOH GR II, RAW, and ERIC KIM MONOCHROME 1600 preset. I shot everything in Program mode, and all I did was adjust the exposure compensation while shooting (most of the photos were shot at -2/3 or -1 exposure compensation, to make a more dramatic photo).

Furthermore, I just used center-autofocus, and ISO 1600. Super simple. I just “set it and forget it”— I don’t think about the technical settings. I just focus on shooting.

In praise of macro mode

Another tip — shoot in macro mode in order to make more interesting photos. Macro allows you to focus super-close, which opens up even more photo opportunities.

High contrast black and white vision

Also, when I’m out shooting, I set the camera to high contrast black and white mode. This helps me see reality augmented in monochrome — which helps me pre-visualize my shots better.

Simple strap

I always dreamed of having the ideal strap for the RICOH GR II. Thus I designed the ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP and the ERIC KIM NECK STRAP (because the RICOH GR II has a non-standard mounting string hook).

The idea is this:

Always have your camera strapped to you (like soldiers with guns), in order to be prepared to make a photograph in any situation.

What can John Wick teach us about photography?

I really loved the John Wick films (both). This is what I found interesting:

When he went out to battle, he had like 100 guns strapped to his body.

Now, while I encourage “one camera, one lens”, the idea of having several cameras on you can be a good idea.

For example:

  1. You always have your phone camera in your front pocket (like your pistol).
  2. You can have a RICOH GR II in your front or back pocket.
  3. You can have your “bigger” camera strapped on your neck or shoulder (like your Leica, Fuji, Sony). For neck strap, HENRI NECK STRAP. For shoulder, HENRI SHOULDER STRAP.

Leave a camera in your car

If you drive a lot, just keep a random camera in your car. Or at your workplace. Or in your kitchen.

When you walk by your camera, you can always shoot.

Go on a walk with your camera

Many people go on walks with their dogs. Do the same with your camera.

Don’t force yourself to make photos. Just shoot whatever you see which interests you!

Always be prepared

I learned the motto in Boy Scouts:

Always be prepared.

99% of the time I see something interesting and I miss the photo opportunity, it was because I wasn’t prepared. It’s either because I had my camera in my bag, or I couldn’t take my camera out fast enough. This is why it’s a good idea to always have a camera around your neck or wrist.

Treat every opportunity in life like a photo opportunity

Going to the movies, going to dinner with a friend or family, going on a trip to the grocery store, filling gas, etc — these are all opportunities to make photos!

What hidden beauty is waiting for you to photograph?

All is inspiration

Even though you’re not always shooting photos, think about photos, pictures, or art. Seek inspiration from anything and everything.

Make a Dropbox folder of pictures and images which inspire you. When you’re bored, just look at these pictures! Don’t look for inspiration on Instagram, you’re going to be distracted by advertising and other silly stuff.

Better to take a bad photo than no photo

It’s impossible to know whether the photograph you shoot will be good or bad. So when you see an interesting scene,


You can figure out whether it is a good photo later.

Have fun!

Wisdom is a child playing by the beach, building sand castles, only waiting to get swept again into the ocean (Heraclitus).

What’s the point of making photos if eventually you and your photos will be forgotten? Because shooting photos is fun!

Never stop shooting!

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