How to Become a More Authentic Photographer

First of all,

Cliche isn’t that big of a deal.

It doesn’t matter whether someone has done it or not in the past. What is important is that you enjoy doing it.

For example, would you not drink coffee because everyone else does it, and everyone else has done it before? Or would you not have a coffee this morning because you’ve “done it before”?

Everything is simply a remix or iteration of things in the past

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Therefore our goal is to be authentic, not ‘original’.

Authenticity means ‘author’, which means — you are the creator. Then the Ancient Greek means ‘authentes‘ (lord, master). Even deeper,

Auto (self) + anuo (doer, effector, accomplisher).

An author or an authentic person (in my eyes) means:

Someone who does something or creates things for ‘autotelic’ (self-accomplishing) reasons.

Autotelic photography‘. Or solo photography. Creating something because you truly love and care for it, without having to look over your shoulder whether others appreciate it or not.

The simple formula

espresso cup ERIC KIM
  1. Assume nobody else would ever see your photos. Shoot the photos anyways.
  2. When you end up making photos that you are yourself pleased with, THEN share it with others!

The big mistake photographers make is that they make photos based on what others haven’t done before, rather than thinking whether they like it or not.

Any photo or art nerd will know the great history of photography, we will realize everything is a copy or iteration of something which has come before us.

This is why there is a danger to knowing too much about photography:

You become paralyzed because you know that none of your photos will become truly original.

1. Embrace the cliche

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To become a more authentic photographer, I say become a child and embrace the cliche. Better yet, assume the notion ‘cliche’ doesn’t even exist. No child creates something concerned with whether it has been ‘done before’ or not. A child wouldn’t refuse to use crayons, just because ‘other kids’ have used crayons in the past.

2. Turn off comments, views, and other metrics

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On your own blog (wordpress.org), turn off comments, disable views, disable statistics. Then share your photos on your own self hosted blog with the unknown.

For example, I haven’t enabled my personal statistics on my blog for the last 6+ years and it has been insanely liberating. I have become more reckless and bold in terms of what I create and share, because I care less whether others like it or not. I have better clarity whether I like it or not.

3. Shoot it because you’re personally curious about it.

Then the big thing:

Just shoot things because you’re personally curious how it will turn out.

This is the magic of monochrome:

Black and white transforms an image into something else.

Black and white automatically makes things more abstract and mysterious. Add a flash, and things get even more interesting!

4. Get honest feedback

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arsbeta.com to get honest feedback on your photos. The reason why ARS is so unique:

Double blind.

You don’t know who is giving you feedback on your photos, and others don’t know who you are.

Thus people will become more authentic in terms of giving you real feedback on what they really think.

5. Keep doing it

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My photo turbo thought is fun:

You never ‘force’ yourself to drink your morning coffee out of willpower.

No. You must have the morning coffee, or else you will feel like shit without it. Thus you have this auto-motivation to make that morning espresso.

I think photography should be the same. We make photos because we must. We don’t force ourselves to photograph, very much like how we don’t force ourselves to breathe. And think, how many times do you breathe every day unconsciously? Photograph the same.


Motivational material

  1. STREET by KIM // Dropbox PDF
  2. ERIC KIM photography composition studies // [Dropbox PDF]
  3. Zen Photography // PDF

All books >


PRODUCTS

HAPTIC INDUSTRIES:

  1. MUSE by KIM
  2. PHOTO JOURNAL [Mobile edition, free] // Print Edition on AMAZON PRIME
  3. FREE: Embark On Your Own Photography Adventure Flowchart
  4. ERIC KIM Neck Strap Mark II
  5. HENRI NECK STRAP
  6. Amazon Prime: HENRI WRIST STRAP CREMA BROWN

Discover more on AMAZON >


Philosophical ideas

  1. How Life is Binary
  2. THE STREETS ARE THE BEST PLACE TO BE.
  3. MOVE THE WORLD
  4. Why I’m So Bullish on Bitcoin

More philosophy >

STREET THOUGHTS

  1. SAMUEL STREET LIFE INTERVIEW on ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY // [YouTube Link]
  2. SEATTLE 2021
  3. 10 Street Photography Tips

More street >


MEDIA

  1. Podcast
  2. YouTube
  3. START HERE

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