How to Become a More Courageous Photographer

Practical tips and ideas:

Conquer your fears and meet new peers at ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE >

Why courage?

Street photography vertical

Courage as being “great hearted”.

When I think about ancient virtues (Iliad and the ancient Greeks), courage is one of the supreme virtues.

Therefore having courage is good. The more courageous you are, the better.

1. Physiological training

Back muscle flex

I believe that the root of courage is physiological (pertaining to the body).

For example, when we think about all the hormones (testosterone, serotonin, cortisol, etc) — these are all produced by the body. Therefore if we desire to become more courageous, we first need to address our bodily physiology.

Let me share some thoughts from my personal experiences:

  1. Powerlifting: I think if you desire to become the most fearless photographer (who needs to photograph other human beings), start lifting. Deadlift, squat, dumbell press, or any other difficult lifts. The goal is “one rep max” styled training. Why powerlifting? It’s hard, challenging, and interesting. I’d say after getting into powerlifting, I’m 100x mentally and physically stronger. Now at this point shooting street photography almost feels too easy. My theory, the more physically trained you become, the more stable your hormones and fear response. I still feel fear in street photography, but I feel it MUCH LESS than I did in the past.
  2. Ice cold showers
  3. Very strong painful massages
  4. 8-12 hours of sleep
  5. Acupuncture
  6. Intermittent fasting x Ketogenic diet

I believe all of these things will do the following:

1. Make you more adept to dealing with pain.

John Wick after getting stabbed in shoulder

For example icy cold showers are painful, but it won’t kill you. You still feel the pain, but you are no longer afraid of the pain.

2. More muscle mass, and stronger physical strength gives you more confidence and courage.

Front Ricoh

Let’s think of this from a warrior perspective: who would be more courageous in a battle:

  1. Power lifter: 200 pound individual with high muscle mass, 10% bodyfat.
  2. Video game player: 200 pound individual with very low muscle mass, 40% bodyfat.

I would put my money on the first person.

Of course muscle mass and body fat percentage isn’t a determinant of your personal courage. However I think the very practical idea is this:

By putting on more muscle mass and lowering your body fat percentage, you will become more courageous from a hormonal-physiological perspective.

I can also say personally that if I lift heavy weights in the morning and I immediately go out to public places, I’m 1000x more socially confident.

Random thought:

I wonder if doing some pushups, chin-ups, or kettlebell swings before going out to shoot photos will make you more courageous.

Once again, after physical exertion (weight lifting), your body probably increases serotonin, testosterone, and other “courage” hormones.

2. Diet

Sirloin Steak

A theory:

What if our diet (the foods we eat) affects our courage?

Totally makes sense. It is obvious that having more testosterone is better to increase your courage.

Then comes the question:

What foods increase testosterone and which foods (or drinks) decrease testosterone?

I cannot say for certain, but let us imagine — which diet would be superior for increasing your testosterone?

  1. Carnivore diet: Steaks, red meat, eggs, lamb.
  2. Vegan diet: Beans, almonds, tofu

I think it’s obvious that the carnivore diet is superior in terms of increasing your testosterone.

Generally speaking, red meats and fatty meats are supreme for increasing your testosterone (for both ladies and men). Having more (natural) testosterone is beneficial to both men and women (and having more natural testosterone in women won’t make you look like the she-hulk, unless you inject testosterone and steroids into your veins). [More info on testosterone]

3. No pangs of conscience

New York City Street

What hurts our courage? I think it is this over-obsession with morals and ethics. 

For example a lot of us have been taught by society:

To photograph others without their permission is immoral and evil.

Also, many of us don’t like to be photographed, so we make the wrong assumption that others don’t like being photographed. But this isn’t true, there are people (like ERIC KIM) who love being photographed. Therefore it seems the practical ideas are:

  1. Learn to love being photographed (self reflection, philosophize, and wonder why you don’t like being photographed). If you are self conscious because you’re over fat, start lifting weights, ketogenic diet x intermittent fasting, and lower your bodyfat percentage to a point in which you love looking at yourself naked in the mirror. Also for all genders, more muscle mass is always more attractive.
  2. Start shooting more selfies of yourself
  3. Hire a professional photographer for headshots, and learn their techniques how they make you feel more comfortable.

4. Exercise

Exercise and practice street photography more. Or if you shoot weddings, commercial, headshots, fashion, documentary, or any humanistic photography — just practice it more!

Consider if you’re a Formula 1 driver, of course you still feel fear. But the fear is good— it keeps you focused, and prevents you from dying. Fear heightens your focus and concentration (fear is good).

Or if you’re a boxer or UFC fighter. These guys still feel fear before a big fight, but the fear actually makes them stronger. Furthermore, no matter how experienced you are as a fighter you’ll always feel fear. But the difference is that the fear doesn’t get in your way— the fear helps elevate you!

So in photography the goal is this:

  1. Lower your fear response
  2. Don’t let the fear prevent you from photographing
  3. Channel your fear as a tool: When you see something which scares you, it is a sign that it might be a good photo!

Conquer your fears and meet new peers at ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE >