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The Kaizen Approach to Photography and Life

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A thought:

Perhaps we should focus on tiny (incremental), 1% improvements everyday (no breaking the chain).

What is ‘Kaizen’?

The basic notion of ‘Kaizen’ is this:

Innovation is about steady, gradual, and non-stop improvements over a long period of time.

For example, while the original iPhone was a massive game-changer, every iPhone since then was a quite gradual improvement [Kaizen approach]. However if we consider the original iPhone and the current iPhone Xs, the improvement is massive. But the difference between an iPhone X and Xs might only be a 10% improvement at best.

How to apply the Kaizen approach to your photography

If you can improve your photography by 1% everyday, you will technically be 37x better at the end of a year!

To put this into scale, let us say you can lift 100 pounds for a deadlift. If you theoretically increase that weight by 1% everyday, you will be able to deadlift 3,700 pounds [3.7 tons] at the end of the year.

Thus of course from a physiological perspective, indefinite 1% gain everyday, forever is impossible. However, it is still a practical and pragmatic way we can think about approaching our lives.

Kaizen Photography Activities

Practical ideas:

  1. Shoot 1% more photos today than you did yesterday. For example if you shot 1 photo yesterday (round up) and shoot 2 photos today. If you shot 10 photos yesterday, shoot 11 photos today. If you shot 100 photos yesterday, shoot 101 photos [etc].
  2. The more you shoot, the happier you will be, and the more ‘keeper’ photos you will make. Thus increasing the quantity [number of photos you shoot] will actually increase the number of “quality” photos you shoot.
  3. Think about your photographic progress from a day-to-day basis. Simply strive to become a little better in your photography today then yesterday.

If you want honest feedback and critique on your photos, upload your pictures to

Kaizen in life

1. Physical strength:

With lifting weights, strive to become 1% stronger today than yourself yesterday. This means, try to increase the weight by 1% everyday, and every workout. For deadlifts, just try to add 5 pounds every workout [two 2.5 pound baby weights on each side]. Or for chirrups, try to do 1 more chin-up every workout. 

2. Artistic strength: 

As an artist, thinker, and creator — try to “improve” yourself and your output by 1% everyday (however you determine this metric). 

3. Entrepreneurial strength: 

Maybe try to sell 1% more products today, or think 1% bigger today than you did yesterday. Think big, bold, and audacious goals. Increase your goals 1% everyday. [Photography Entrepreneurship 101]

What I’m inspired by today

A list of things I’m inspired by today:

  1. What Happened to the Future?” Essay on Founders Fund
  2. Mission Statement of Palantir [Peter Thiel’s company]
  3. The Moonshot Company [Google’s “X” company]

ARS: Social Media for Photographers Done Right.

One of the new features of ARS which is super awesome: using your ARS COIN to get ‘Commissioned Critiques’ on your photos.

Check it out. Upload new photos you shoot to, and also start giving constructive critiques to others in the community.

Learn why ARS is better than Instagram >

Interview with Cindy Nguyen

Listen on Eric Kim PODCAST

A fun chat with Cindy about running HAPTIC PRESS, our favorite photo books, and thoughts on photo book publishing. Part of our HAPTIC Summer Book Club!

Books shown:

Why buy books, not gear?

New Inspiration

Fresh new inspiration for you on the blog:

  1. What’s the Future for Photography?
  2. How to Monetize a Blog Without Advertising
  3. Why Grow?

Parting thoughts

My last empowering thought for you:

Better to make ‘bad’ art than to make no art.

Anti-perfection in art. Just because someone else did it before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt doing it as well (you will always do it differently). 

Anti self-criticism. Making art as a creative process, of playing. No finality in your artworks.


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