CUBA // ERIC KIM // RICOH GR III cuba dad and daughter ERIC-KIM-best-photos-37-scaled.jpg

How to Become an Elite Photographer

A thought on my mind:

I think what we really desire is to become an elite photographer.

The funny thing is that in America, we have this strange puritan notion that elitism is bad. Yet, we all desire to become elite.

Some people strive to become elite through forced poverty (asceticism). Other individuals strive to ‘virtue flex‘ which is:

I am holier, and more virtuous than you, and thus more superior and elite to you, because I am so much more virtuous and a ‘better’ person than you.

But what does this mean in the context of photography? Some thoughts:


1. The most elite photographer doesn’t use social media

digital indentured servant - digital-share-cropping-eric-kim-delano-.jpg
Digital Sharecropping

Contrary to popular belief, to become an elite photographer, you must (via negativa) NOT use social media. Social media is a trap.

Digital sharecropping

The interesting thing is that it is not ‘slavery’ per-se, it is more like indentured servitude.

Essentially this is what happens:

We will ‘loan’ you this ‘free’ land, and you will populate it through your great toil, and eventually we will put advertisements around it, and low-key subtly control you (‘nudge’ you) to maximize your likes/followers, and to trap you within this golden cage of social media.

In fact, the best flex you can do as a photographer is this:

When people ask you what your Instagram is, you tell them: “I don’t have an Instagram”.

Or better yet:

I used to have an Instagram, but I deleted it.

More courage to delete your instagram, than to accumulate a trillion followers.

2. Infinite motivation

juxtaposition cuba
Cuba // CINDYPROJECT

The reason I am so inspired by Kanye West:

He seems to have no problem continually making new music.

What is the greatest attribute of an artist? To be creatively and artistically prolific.

In photography, the difficult thing is to stay motivated. Even the reason why we must become more than Henri Cartier-Bresson is this:

In his later years, Henri gave up on photography.

Why did HCB give up photography? I think he became a victim of his own success. I think this is what happened:

The whole time Henri Cartier-Bresson desired to become a painter, and happenstance picked up photography (as a side hobby), but (fortunately/unfortunately) became too good at photography, and he became famous and the GOAT of photography, but the whole time, he just wanted to paint.

This is why Josef Koudelka is probably a better role model than Henri Cartier-Bresson:

Koudelka is in his 90’s and still shooting.

Even Daido Moriyama— he is a good role model because he pretty much keeps his head down, and focuses on his own photography. He has remained quite prolific his whole life.

Even myself, being born in 1988, I desire to stay motivated to shoot until I am 120 years old.

How I plan on living to 120 >

Motivation >

3. Choose a harder, more elite aesthetic

CUBA // ERIC KIM // RICOH GR III cuba dad and daughter ERIC-KIM-best-photos-37-scaled.jpg
CUBA // ERIC KIM // RICOH GR III // 28mm

The reason why I love monochrome:

It is the most robust, hard, and strong/powerful aesthetic we can utilize for our photography.

Color is good, but color is fleeting. For example:

If you shoot digital photography, the color aesthetic will always change (RAW files always change, the filters always change, etc).

Monochrome has greater longevity.

4. What to keep consistent?

HENRI NECK STRAP MARK IV
HENRI NECK STRAP MARK IV

It also seems wise to keep some things consistent, while changing others.

I like the idea of keeping your equipment consistent. RICOH GR IIIX + ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP MARK II.

Also, keeping your in-camera JPEG settings consistent. Extra small JPEG, and shooting the best in-camera high contrast black and white JPEG (the best technical settings here).

Then — what to change? Go on more epic adventures, and shoot more.

Adventure awaits you!

5. Disdain

Henri abstract Eric kim
HENRI BY ERIC KIM

For me, Leica has lost its cache and mystique. Same goes with Apple.

I suppose this is a good thing, because I cannot recall the last time I did research on new cameras.

The true elite photographers use RICOH GR IIIX.

Also why RICOH GR IIIX? I like it because it is obscure– nobody knows what it is.

And as an aesthetic thing, to have something that nobody else owns is a good thing. This is true elitism:

To own (or not own) things that differentiate yourself from others.

For example, even the Lamborghini URUS– everyone has one now (no more interest), and also in every single color way (I’ve seen the URUS in red, yellow, black, white, orange, etc). TESLA is cool, but even TESLA is not unique anymore. I’ve seen a TESLA in all variations. Currently the only car which is interesting to me is the new Corolla GR.

RICOH IS THE FUTURE

6. Conquer the masters

Hanoi Hoan Kim Lake // RICOH GR II x FLASH eric kim monochrome man hanoi flowers.jpg
Hanoi Hoan Kim Lake // RICOH GR II x FLASH

Learn from the masters, then conquer them.

The greatest utility of learning from the masters of photography:

You learn the traps to avoid.

Avoid the trap of success. Avoid losing motivation.

Also–

Do not desire to become a part of a collective, group, ‘movement’, etc.

The only artists who last are the ones who have made a solo name for themselves.

Even Henri Cartier-Bresson distanced and essentially ‘ditched’ Magnum in his later years.

Piet Mondrian has lasted, nobody else in his ‘movement’.

Picasso has lasted, none of his contemporaries.

Your goal:

LAST.

ERIC


TURBOCHARGE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY

Take your photography to the next level at an upcoming ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE:


HAPTIC EQUIPMENT

  1. ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP MARK II: For RICOH GR IIIX and beyond
  2. ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II: The supreme RICOH STRAP
  3. HENRI NECK STRAP MARK IV: Classics never die.

MOAR EQUIPMENT >

HAPTIC AMAZON PRIME


More thoughts

  1. Make a name for yourself (build up your first and last name)
  2. Buy the dip: Looks like Amazon is down (good time to buy). Also buy TESLA when it dips, and also buy BITCOIN (or crypto) when it dips.
  3. Motivational media and cinema: I really liked the new BATMAN film, the new Paramount+ HALO series (become your own master chief), and of course, JOHN WICK. John Wick as the ultimate stoic. John Wick over batman. My John Wick 1 cinema analysis.

Just blog it.

When in doubt, just blog it.

Your blog as the ultimate creative canvas.

Even though I don’t like it, it seems that GENESIS is still the best WordPress framework for blogging.


FREE RESOURCES

All open source everything:

  1. Free open source photos (ERIC KIM) // Dropbox link // Google Drive ZIP
  2. STREET NOTES MOBILE // Print Edition
  3. Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography
  4. HOW TO SEE: Visual Guide to Composition, Color, & Editing in Photography
  5. Mini Street Photography Starter Kit // Full Version

HAPTIC DIGITAL + HARD PRODUCTS >

ERIC KIM DOWNLOADS


If this inspired you or sparked any creative interest within you, feel free to forward to a friend!


EK // START // BOOKS // EQUIPMENT // EXPERIENCE


ERIC KIM NEWS LINK

Scroll to Top