How to Achieve Happiness through Photography

Some practical thoughts and tips on how to be ‘happier’ in life, using photography as the tool:

1. Delete Instagram

I am convinced: Instagram, social media, Facebook, etc is probably the single most inimical thing to our personal happiness in modern day living.

A lot of my tech friends know; Instagram, social media is more addictive (and damaging) than crack cocaine. A lot of people often call the phone a ‘dopamine machine’ — because whenever you are feeling down, you look at the little red notifications, and suddenly you get a hit of dopamine to make you ‘feel good’.

I don’t think Facebook is evil (Facebook owns Instagram). I honestly like Mark Zuckerberg, and think he has good intentions. But– what is the cost of connecting the whole world to make some sort of ‘global community’? To make the most addictive technology ever known; something that hijacks our self-esteem, our human relationships, and our own sense of self-worth.

2. What I’ve learned after deleting my Instagram

Red dark skies

I’ve been ‘clean’ from Instagram for over a year now, and after deleting my Instagram, I can genuinely say I am 1000x happier. Why?

  1. Less emotional mood-swings which is dependent on my ‘like’ numbers.
  2. More zen-like focus on my photographic process; and focusing on making photos which bring me joy– rather than trying to impress my followers.
  3. More focus to build up my own platform (this blog). Also, 100x more productivity in my own personal blogging and YouTube vlogging, because all the energy that I used to waste on Instagram is now focused on building my own platform, building my own empire and kingdom.
  4. To promote my ‘anti-social media’ campaign, I created ARS, the first double-blind feedback platform for photographers. The only place on the internet (or the world) where you can get honest, anonymous (constructive) feedback on your photos.

My current ambition is to cultivate more photography bloggers (who own their own blogging platform, via and And to also empower and encourage more photography entrepreneurs.

3. Make photos to notice beauty all around you

lines light shadow

Photography has helped me find more joy and happiness in life, because with the camera as a tool, I notice more beauty all around me! I think the whole ethos of street photography is to help people discover ‘beauty in the mundane‘; the beauty in everyday things, objects, places, and happenings.

You can find beauty in simple shadows, light, textures, details, and people.

4. Satisfice with your camera equipment

Cindy hands black and white xf10

I also think that 90% of modern photographers are miserable because they feel that their gear is never good enough. Who is to blame? Internet bloggers, YouTubers, and camera companies who want you to be perpetually dissatisfied with your camera gear, so you can be a good consumer and keep buying more shit.

Current setup: Fujifilm XF10, SR+ Mode, ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP MARK II

To be frank, I’ve been suckered by GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) my whole life. I know myself– I am the ultimate sucker to advertising. Whenever I see an advertisement for that new new thing– I suddenly feel dissatisfied with my camera equipment.

So what is the solution? Of course with digital cameras, we must upgrade them at least every 3 years or so (I would not wish to use a 5+ old laptop, or a 5+ year old phone, god forbid). Thus, upgrading is part of the game.

But the practical suggestion I have is this:

If your camera is 80% “good enough” for your needs; just stick with it, and shoot more!

This notion is ‘satisficing’ (suffice + satisfy).

The weak link in our artistry isn’t our equipment; we are to blame.

5. Just shoot it.

umbrella numbers

To improve your photography, you just need to practice more. How do you practice more in photography? Just go out and shoot more often, always have your camera in your pocket or around your neck, and just shoot it! Don’t think too much in photography; just shoot it! Figure out what to do with the photos afterwards.

6. Use the smallest and simplest camera possible.

tokyo Lumix g9

Thus generally speaking, I think the best (standalone) cameras for everyday/street photography is:

7. Keep innovating with your compositions

Lumix g9

I realized that much of the joy of photography is to have fun with your compositions! To practice shooting from different perspectives, by tilting your camera (dutch angle), or holding your camera up super high and pointing downwards.

Thus to have more fun in photography, challenge yourself more with your compositions!

  1. Shoot closer
  2. Don’t crop
  3. Simplify your photos, by reducing clutter in the background
  4. Add more layers or subjects to your photos
  5. Focus on single-subject street portraits
  6. Shoot with a flash (or practice shooting street photography in difficult places like the mall)

8. Walk more


It is very simple: if you want to shoot more photos, walk more!

Don’t think of walking as ‘exercise’; treat it something fun and existential for you.

Furthermore, the formula is:

The more you walk, the more photo opportunities you see, and the more you will shoot. The more you shoot, the more likely you are to make a photo you like. And the more photos you shoot that you like, the happier you will be!

9. Show your love

Cindy flash

This is what I think:

Every time you photograph your loved one, you are giving them a metaphorical kiss.

My #1 subject in my life is Cindy. When I photograph Cindy for #cindyproject, it is to show my love for her.

The very simple thing is this:

The camera allows you to notice your loved ones more; so spend more time photographing your loved ones!

The more you notice your loved ones, the more you will appreciate them. Appreciation and gratitude is one of the prerequisites to feeling joy and happiness.

Thus, make more artful photos of your loved ones.

10. Cultivate a personal aesthetic you like.

There is no such thing as an objectively “good” or “bad” aesthetic. You must determine your own personal aesthetics; strive to master your own aesthetics for yourself.

Choose the colors you like, paint the world with your own brush. Make photos you like to look at; this is the secret.


Happiness isn’t a final destination you can arrive at. Happiness isn’t like the final subway stop in your rail of life.

No — happiness is as Aristotle said, ‘Human flourishing’.

I personally believe that happiness is a constant process; creative flourishing, the feeling that you are becoming stronger and more self-confident, and delighting in the festive joy of being alive!

Happiness is within your control. My final takeaway point:

Be happy at every moment of the day. Extract the maximum from every moment during the day; thrive in creating, producing, and share it with others.