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On Becoming a More Curious Photographer


Dear friends,

The turbo thought of today:

Perhaps the best trait for us is curiosity– to become MORE curious.

What does it mean to be ‘curious’?

To be curious means ‘to care’. It comes from the coeur (heart). So anything you got your heart for, you care for. Same word as ‘curate‘.

How and why does curiosity get killed from us?

It is strange– in America, in some ways we prize curiosity as a trait (we all love Curious George) but in some ways, we see curiosity as bad in children (‘curiosity killed the cat’). And in truth in all practicality, this is what happens:

Kids who are curious BEFORE going to K-12 education are praised for being curious, but once you’re in the school system, curiosity is crushed from you.

Rather, obedience, sitting (dealing with boredom), listening to the teacher, and learning boring stuff at school.

And what happens? Slowly by slowly, curiosity is killed from the souls of our children. Because kids are only curious about what they have their hearts in, but it is always seen as ‘dangerous’ or a ‘distraction’.

How to become a more curious photographer

When I think of my son Seneca, the #1 trait I want to cultivate in him is curiosity. Rather than saying ‘no’, to guide him… even if the things are a bit ‘dangerous’ (guided parental hands-on learning).

For us adult photographers, perhaps to become more curious means:

Take more risks that seem silly.


Not to ask others for their opinion before experimenting with certain ideas.

Curiosity about film

For example, my curiosity with film photography. My curiosity on how Kodak tri-x400 film looks pushed to 1600 (with yellow filter). Or how Kodak Portra 400 color film looks like.

Even much of my dreams in life (gaining financial independence, becoming a digital nomad, making my passion into my living, etc) — it was all curiosity on my part — whether it was possible, and whether it was something I would love to make me ‘happier’ in life.

Carte blanche

Some ideas:

  1. When you see something and you have even a 1% chance of wanting to photograph it, just shoot it, and figure out what to do with it later. Better to take a ‘bad’ photo than no photo.
  2. Experiment with flash. Flash transforms the world.
  3. Experiment asking others for permission to shoot a street portrait of them. See how many ‘No’s’ you can get (STREET NOTES).
  4. Experiment with exposure compensation: Making photos very high exposure compensation or very low exposure compensation. I say in monochrome make your photos ‘as dark as possible‘.
  5. Explore any other forms of visual arts which stimulate you. Cinema, calligraphy, sculpture, etc.
  6. Realize and recognize you are a visual artist. Thus allow yourself to ‘cross pollinate‘ any artistic or aesthetic ideals you have.

Exploit your curiosity

If you’re curious about new photos and visual image experimentation, share it to to get some real feedback.

Attend an ERIC KIM WORKSHOP to get some real (in real life) creativity ideas to turbocharge your photography:

Creativity resources

  2. CREATIVE EVERY DAY PRINT EDITION: Perfect if you want to practice drawing and other ‘haptic’ hands-on creative assignments.
  3. FILM NOTES: For those of you curious on film photography.
  5. ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II (for your RICOH GR II/RICOH GR III) to shoot more!




  1. What Does Kodak Tri-X 400 Look Like Pushed to 1600 with Yellow Filter? // .ZIP FILE WITH JPEG IMAGES // PDF
  2. PORTRA 400: Dropbox ZIP FILE WITH JPEG IMAGES // Dropbox PDF Download [also direct]

Start here for all open source resources >

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