dark skies over Tokyo ERIC KIM

What I Wish I Knew If I Started Street Photography All Over Again

An amalgamation of everything I wish I knew about street photography if I started all over again:

What I Wish I Knew If I Started Street Photography All Over Again


What I Wish I Knew If I Started Street Photography All Over Again

1. Start with monochrome

dark skies over Tokyo ERIC KIM

Why monochrome? Simple — it gives you the chance to focus on shapes, form, and composition.

Color is great too, but I say that color is an intermediate stage. First focus on mastering monochrome, then work on color later.

2. Travel and/or live abroad

Hanoi silhouette composition ERIC KIM

A travel notes thought:

Living abroad is one of the best ways to take your street photography to the next level.

Why? I find living in the states to be less conducive to street photography than traveling or living abroad. The ideal lifestyle for a street photographer being a ‘digital nomad‘.

Roof top bar Hanoi Vietnam black and white street photography ERIC KIM

For example, my time living abroad in Vietnam (Saigon, Hanoi) or living in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto).

hands ERIC KIM wrinkles Hanoi woman flash Ricoh gr ii

Many people see travel as an escape, but I see travel as a means to find and discover yourself. Why? The chance to zen-zone out of all the BS back stateside, to allow yourself some ‘creative isolation‘ and to focus on what is truly important to you — your visual creative artwork (via street photography).

3. Shoot at coffee shops

eric kim street photography hanoi-5

There seems to be something very productive when it comes to coffee, coffee shops, espressos, cafe’s and photographers. Often when I am parked at a local coffee shop doing some creative work on my laptop, I will see street photography opportunities (like the image above) which catch my eye.

Thus don’t think you always gotta be out on the streets to make street photos — know you can also do indoor street photography.

4. Street photography doesn’t need to have people in the frame

Leaf with flash. RICOH GR II. Hanoi

To me, street photography is more of an ethos and an approach in life. Thus to broaden your scope for street photography, know your street photography doesn’t have to have people in it. I often find photographing people to be the most memorable photos, but not always.

5. Laugh!

laughing lady hanoi

The problem with many street photographers:

They try too hard to be ‘serious’ artists, and thus don’t have a funny bone in their soul.

Far more fun and interesting to laugh, interact and engage with your subject in street photography.

ERIC KIM laughing lady new york city

6. You gotta ‘work the scene’ to get the shot.


A huge thing:

The myth of the decisive moment.

This means– you don’t just get the shot in 1 shot 1 kill. You gotta milk the scene and work the scene. Even Henri Cartier-Bresson said:

Often you gotta milk the cow a lot to just get a little bit of cheese.

Thus when you see an interesting scene, I say:

Shoot 25% more than you think you ‘should’ in order to get the shot.

7. Photograph people who you are attracted to

kyoto flash ERIC KIM street photography

Photograph beautiful people (whether men, women, etc). People who you are attracted to. This will fuel your motivation to make photos.

Remember the Garry Winogrand photo book, ‘Women are beautiful’.

8. Juxtapose with the background

Kyoto background

A simple thought:

Often it is more effective to first look for an interesting background, then wait for your subject to enter the scene.

Or while you’re shooting on the streets, look for people standing in front of interesting backgrounds which you can juxtapose with. This will create a more interesting visual story in your street photos.

Eric Kim Photography OSAKA - v10 - Lumix LX100-8590186

9. Start a street photography project

One of the most productive things I have done for my street photography:

To start and attempt a street photography project.

For example, my SUITS project.

What was the main benefit of starting a street photography project?

An opportunity to focus on a single subject matter … to practice editing, sequencing, and putting out a final product.

10. Street photography is the secret to happiness?

Eric Kim Photography OSAKA - v10 - Lumix LX100-8590478

A simple thought:

There is probably nothing that brings me more joy than street photography.

The chance to explore, travel, see, experience, interact with other humans, and make artwork. Isn’t this the ‘full stack’ visual experience?

If there is anything I have learned it is this:

The supreme life activity for us is to make art work.

And for us, we love being outside. We like being on the streets. We don’t like staying home. This is why street photography is perfect for us.

11. Digital street photography is king

Los Angeles law office  street

I love film and there are extremely useful things about learning film. But at the end of the day, I see digital photography as king. Why?

You can shoot more, edit more, process and share your photos quicker and more effectively … which will increase the learning ‘feedback loop’ for your photography.

RICOH GR III as currently the perfect street photography camera. Even better than any Leica M camera [LEICA MANUAL PDF].

12. Street photography interpretation is up to you

The big thing:

Street photography should and must be defined by you.

You don’t need to shoot human beings. You can even make interesting street photographs in the (boring) suburbs! Even for myself currently being in the suburbs, I am entertaining myself with shooting more ‘urban landscapes‘ in the neighborhood, and even at the local Costco.

13. Study the masters, then kill the masters.

100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography [PDF LINK] — the biggest takeaway:

Study the masters of photography, then kill them.

You must become the master of your street photography and yourself.

We cannot be connected to the umbilical chord forever. Wouldn’t you one day prefer to be regarded as a street photography master, than to simply kowtow to those who have come before you?

Once again:

The goal is for you to become the street photography master.


14. Make PDF e-books

Free ebooks are key. Affinity publisher as a great option.

See all books >

affinity publisher

Certainly there is much virtue and value of publishing a print book, but perhaps digital ebooks (PDF) are superior in terms of time, coat and just doing it.

15. The never-ending journey

chromatic abbreviation glitch ERIC KIM selfie

The greatest and happiest thought:

To shoot street photography until you are age 120— this is the goal.



walking woman umbrella crimson red

Only in America

Downtown LA in COLOR


street photography starter kit by ERIC KIM

Master street photography with STREET PHOTOGRAPHY STARTER KIT.


Hearts. Hollywood, 2011 #flash


walking woman umbrella crimson red

Only in America

Downtown LA in COLOR


street photography starter kit by ERIC KIM

Master street photography with STREET PHOTOGRAPHY STARTER KIT.


Hearts. Hollywood, 2011 #flash

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running through the swings kid street photography ERIC KIM

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