I believe I am what I do, what I own, and how I live my life.
This is a personal breakdown of me, Eric Kim:
I was born Jan 31, 1988 in San Francisco.
I grew up with two parents and an amazing loving sister (Anna Kim). My mom (Sukhee/Lea Chung) worked many part-time menial labor jobs to pay the bills (cleaning dishes, cleaning houses, waitressing, and other odd jobs). My mom worked 12 hour days, for pretty much 6-7 days a week until I went to college. My family filed for bankruptcy once.
I grew up not knowing whether we could pay the rent at the end of each month. I didn’t grow up in dire poverty (I still had stuff), but I grew up knowing that nothing in life could be handed to me. I had to work hard to get what I wanted.
I bought my first car at 16, for $1200 (1991 Nissan Sentra, 4-door XE, 5-speed) through money I saved up working as a busboy, and through tutoring/teaching. I used to be into fixing up my car. I have fond memories of stripping my interior, upgrading my audio system, upgrading my headers, intake, and exhaust, and painting my car in the garage by myself with spray paint.
In high school, I played football and tennis. I like to breakdance with my friends, and my friend Justin Lee got me into underground hip hop music (Aesop Rock, Hieurspecs, Hieroglyphics, Nujabes, Atmosphere, etc). Many of my old middle-school friends were gang-affiliated. I almost joined one, but fortunately my family moved away from my old middle-school home (Alameda).
I worked hard in high school, took all AP courses, and tried to get into UCLA (I eventually did). I had a lot of help from my local boy scouts troop (Mike O’Connor, Pat Ransil, David Dial, my scoutmasters) — and I eventually became an Eagle scout (my project was to beautify a local community organization that supported abused children).
My main father figure was Coach Lowe (Greg Lowe, a retired ex-police chief), who taught me tennis, but really taught me a philosophy of life. I still remember when I lost my first big game, Coach Lowe told me: “Eric, you didn’t lose — you just didn’t win. There is a difference.” That has stuck with me until now.
I also grew up in the church. I grew up at the St. Andrew Kim Catholic Church in Oakland, where all my best friends were. I ended up teaching Sunday school at St. Agnes (in LA), and eventually became the principal. I still self-identify as Catholic, but as I’m getting older, I’m becoming less religious, and more spiritual. I am grateful to all of my mentors in the church, who guided me to become the person I am today.
I got married to the love of my life in June 11, 2016 in Orange County, California.
The biggest inspiration in my life was my mom (umma in Korean), who worked all these menial labor jobs to get me and my sister through school. My mom nurtured my creative spirit, and always believed in me.
At the moment, the most important individual in my life is Cindy A. Nguyen, who is my muse, my wife, and my life. She helped stir me to teach the seminar: “The Sociology of Facebook and Online Social Networks” while I was at UCLA. She stirred me into starting the Photography Club at UCLA with my friends John Son and Daniel Jeong. I met her at Kyrie (Catholic group at UCLA), and she taught me how to backpack and travel through Europe (we ended up going together, and fell in love). I followed her to East Lansing, Michigan — where she studied for 2 years for her Ph.D. in History (she eventually transferred, getting her masters).
Cindy is currently studying her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, focusing on Vietnamese History. Her dissertation is going to be on the history of the Vietnamese/French Colonial Library. She taught me about information science, constantly challenges me in my art, and is my soulmate. Everything I have accomplished in life (starting a blog, writing, photographing, teaching, traveling) I attribute to her encouragement, love, and support.
Why I live
I live to create information, to improve upon information, and to share this information openly, freely, in order to help motivate, empower, and help others. I believe in “open source” photography. I want to help others use photography as a tool to find more personal meaning, satisfaction, and purpose in life. I see photography less as making photos— more about making you a more courageous, less afraid, and more happy person.
I have written many articles, books, and videos. I plan on keeping these all open and free. I don’t want any poor kid who can’t afford my stuff to not have the chance to learn. Because I was once that poor kid. And information, love from my community, and God has helped guide me where I am today.
If I broke down my diet, it consists of mostly meat, eggs, and coffee. I currently follow a mostly ‘paleo’ diet, and only eat one big meal a day (only dinner). I avoid breakfast and lunch, and have found I have more sustained energy throughout the day.
I drink a lot of coffee. I usually prefer espresso (I can drink more of it, because it has less caffeine than traditional drip coffee). I also believe great things come in small packages. Coffee is what stimulates me to write, think, exercise, and pretty much do anything.
I also love physical fitness. When I have a gym, I love deadlifts and squats. I do pushups at home. I do chin-ups whenever I see a pull-up bar. I am also passionate for the the ‘1-rep maximum’ style of powerlifting, as it is more fun than just counting repetitions.
I’ve realized I have gotten (almost) no inspiration from any blogs, websites, or most online media. All my inspiration has come from books. I am a huge fan of the Internet Archive (archive.org), as I like to download text files, read the books in Evernote (as text files) or in IA Writer (what I use to write everything).
I am currently inspired by a lot of philosophy (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Jesus, Epictetus, Epicurus, the Tao Te Ching) and poets like Horace.
In photography, I have learned from all the masters of photography. My biggest inspirations include Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Richard Avedon. I’m currently branching off from photographers, and studying more Renaissance Painters, like Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and others.
In music, I love hip hop/rap music. I love Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, A$AP Ferg, Jay Electronica, Big Sean. I often listen to hip hop instrumentals (without the rapping) to focus when writing.
In software, I use IA writer to write everything (like this). I use Evernote to sync all my files. I use Dropbox to store my files. I use Lightroom to process my photos. I try to pay for my software whenever possible, because I know that ‘free’ software usually has a hidden catch somewhere. I have a subscription to Evernote, Dropbox, and Lightroom.
For me, I used to own so many different clothes, outfits, and colors. I did this mostly to look cool, get girls (in high school/college), and to boost my self-esteem (pretty low a long time ago).
Now, I see clothing as armor. I need clothing to protect me from freezing to death. But besides that, clothing is a waste of time.
This is the outfit I wear everyday:
- Black long-sleeve cotton Uniqlo button-up shirt
- Black V-Neck Mesh T-Shirt (Uniqlo)
- Black jeans/leggings pants (Uniqlo) — nice and stretchy
- Black Nike Free Run Motion RN (flexible, light, comfortable)
- Black ExOfficio Boxer Briefs
- Black Drymax Socks
Life is so much easier this way. I wake up, and know exactly what I will wear. It is just one less decision I need to make in my life. Now I understood why Steve Jobs had his ‘uniform’ (black turtleneck, blue jeans) he wore everyday. Same as Mark Zuckerberg (Grey t-shirt, jeans).
In clothing now, I remind myself to prevent ‘paralysis by analysis’ when shopping: All black everything.
I used to care too much about smartphones. Now I’m trying to spend as little time on a smartphone as possible. By default, I have my phone switched off. Also when I have my phone on, I use Nova Launcher on Android to hide all my apps. I also have all social media apps uninstalled, and don’t have email on my phone. I only use my phone for Uber, Google Maps, texting, and calling.
For my laptop, I have a 13’’ MacBook Pro (2015) maxed out on pretty much everything. I do all my work on this, and I do believe: you should buy the most expensive laptop you can afford (if your primary job is something related to technology). After all, it is what I spend all day on, and do all my writing, photography, and editing on.
My camera is a Ricoh GR II. Pocketable, and point and click. I shoot it in P (program) mode. ISO 1600, RAW, High-contrast black and white. When I import my photos into Lightroom, I use the “Eric Kim Monochrome 1600” preset. I flag my favorites quickly, and export them as JPEG images and sync on Dropbox.
I currently don’t own a car.
All the content on this blog is open-source, meaning, you can freely download, share, transmit, store, remix, translate, or publish all the information I have created. This includes photos, text, videos, audio, etc.
You can see everything below:
This blog runs on WordPress.org, on the ‘Genesis’ theme. I use the ‘Atmosphere’ Genesis Child Theme. I have mad some CSS edits to design it the way I do.
My two favorite colors:
- Turqoise Blue: #32a698
- Crimson Red: #d02e46
That is pretty much me in a nutshell. My personal philosophy is a combination of Stoicism, Christianity, and Zen/Taoism. My photography is a combination of street photography, personal photography, portraiture, and abstract photography. My writing is mostly blogging, sometimes letters, often books, and is done without editing. I believe in the stream-of-consciousness approach to writing. I have a 135 WPM typing speed.
I am 5 feet 10 inches, weigh around 160 pounds, and am Korean-American. The most I have ever deadlifted was 430 pounds (for 1 repetition).
I believe in ice-cold showers, and that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything in life. I try my best to never blame others; only myself. I try to cultivate patience, love, and compassion towards others. I try to fulfill my personal maximum each day, by pretending like each day were my last.
If I want to be remembered for anything after I die, I want it to be for open, free, and educational information — to help empower humanity (especially those without access, or those impoverished).
Archive all my blog posts, ebooks, photos, and videos — and share them openly and freely for posterity.
Thank you friends.
Updated Feb 25, 2017 in Hanoi