Why Do You Take Travel Photos?

Hanoi, 2016
Hanoi, 2016

Dear friend,

I just had a lively conversation with Cindy about the meaning of traveling and photography. Why do we have to make photos while we’re traveling? Do we do it to document our personal experiences? Do we do it to have a sense of “conquest” of a foreign place? Do we do it to “prove” that we went somewhere?

25 Travel Photography Tips For Beginners

Downtown LA, 2013
Downtown LA, 2012
Downtown LA, 2012

Dear friend,

I love traveling. Traveling has helped me open my eyes and my perspective to the world. Traveling has helped me make tons of new friends all around the globe, better understand other cultures, and to also give me a chance to reflect on my personal values. If I started traveling all over again, these are the tips I would give myself.

How to Shoot an 8×10 Large Format Portrait with Hugo Sharp

Today I hang out with my buddy Hugo Sharp, and get a large-format portrait shot of me. Also joining us is my buddy Greg Marsden. We shoot the portrait in the spirit of Richard Avedon (simple white background) and the whole process was quite amazing. Slow, meditative, and insightful. Really makes you appreciate the large-format shooting process more.

If you want to learn more about shooting film, check out my guide: Film Photography 101>

Why You Should Create “Parallel Interests” in Your Photography

Downtown LA, 2011
Downtown LA, 2011

I’m currently reading “The Essential Drucker” by the management educator Peter Drucker. His insights into companies, communities, society have been quite inspirational to me.

The most interesting interesting concept that I got from Drucker was the idea of creating a “parallel career” — a career that goes in tandem with whatever you’re doing right now. This way you can “cross-pollinate” the two interests or passions you have, which also help build upon one another. And you can do this by creating “parallel interests”.

“Adventure awaits!”

NYC, 2016
NYC, 2016

When we are children, everyday is a new adventure. Everyday is a chance to learn something new, to explore, meet new people, learn new words, new phrases, and to pick up new social cues. We are bewildered by reality.

However as we get older, we become jaded with reality. We feel trapped in these shitty 9-5 jobs, and feel the inner-child die.

Why You Should Buy Books, Not Gear

I love gear as much as the next guy. I always get suckered into thinking that if I buy a new camera, a new lens, or some new gadget– I will somehow be more creative, and inspired.

In reality, it never happens. All of my big breakthroughs in photography have been practicing (shooting a lot) and studying the master photographers. Especially buying photography books (lots of them). You are what you eat, if you look at lots of inspirational photography books, you will become inspired to make great images. I’ve regretted buying a ton of gear in the past, but have never regretted investing in photography books.

To learn more, read my original post: “Buy Books, Not Gear” and also see a list of my recommended photography books: 75+ Inspirational Photography Books You Gotta Own.

Also as an added bonus, here are some non-photography books which have influenced my life deeply:

Melbourne Diary 2016

What’s in my bag for Melbourne/Sydney

Dear friend,

I wanted to write you a little diary entry from Melbourne. I just got here a few days ago, and have been suffering massive headaches (severe caffeine withdrawals from Vietnam) and mild food-poisoning (think I ate some bad eggs on the flight over). Yet it has been some of the best few days ever.

6 Lessons Guy Bourdin Has Taught Me About Photography

© Estate of Guy Bourdin
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

My primary passion is “street photography” — yet I find my biggest inspiration for my work comes from photographers who aren’t “street photographers.”

Enter Guy Bourdin: a fashion photographer who revolutionized the field (alongside Helmut Newton). Bourdin was one of the first photographers to mix fashion, fine art, and commercial photography. His photos are full of suspense, mystery, tinged with sex, drama, and death.

Student Photos: Melbourne Conquer Your Fears Workshop 2016

Shaun Lim
Student photo by Shaun Lim

After lovely espressos, my homies Nick and Frankie from Slater St. Bench, helped me have an incredible workshop this past weekend in Melbourne. The students practiced the “5 yes, 5 no” assignment, practiced “working the scene”, getting closer, and also shooting more candids. See all of their best photos by reading more below.

Also, I have 1 spot left in my upcoming Sydney Conquer Your Fears Workshop (Oct 8-9th) and you don’t want to miss out on my epic week-long Hanoi to Sapa Travel Street Photography Experience (Feb 8-13th, 2017).

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography

Garden Grove, 2016 #cindyproject
Garden Grove, 2016 #cindyproject

Dear friend,

I wanted to write you this book on how to take better photos. I know you started off with your iPhone, and started to show keen interest on making better images. I taught you the “rule of thirds” and other basics; but now it is time for you to take your photography to the next level.

So consider this a handbook or a manual of sorts; for you only. I am also writing this book in hope that other people (similar to you, still relatively new in photography and wanting to learn more) will find it helpful as well.

7 Lessons Helmut Newton Can Teach You About Photography

© Estate of Helmut Newton
© Estate of Helmut Newton

I remember the first time I came across the work of Helmut Newton. I was in Paris, randomly walking around, when I saw posters for these huge nude photographs. I went to the exhibition, and was blown away by the powerful images of Helmut Newton. His photos of women showed them as powerful, assertive, sexual, and also dominant. The photos were also printed larger-than life. I remember one of his images printed about 20 feet tall.

Warning: Some photos in this post show nudity and are NSFW (not safe for work):

7 Principles Elon Musk Can Teach You About Photography

Portrait of Elon Musk by Dan Winters / Esquire
Portrait of Elon Musk © Dan Winters / Esquire

Dear friend,

I often get the biggest inspiration in my photography and life from non-photographers. Why? I feel that photography is such a tiny field of art, and we can learn so much from outside fields. As photographers, I think we are often constricted. I think to really self-realize your talents, skills, and visions in photography — you should seek outside inspiration.

The Street Photography Code of Ethics

Berkeley, 2015
Berkeley, 2015

Dear friend,

Sometimes you might feel guilty photographing your subjects. Sometimes it feels wrong. Sometimes you feel wrong and dirty.

What is the most “ethical” way to shoot street photography?

For a quick summary, I think street photography comes down to the golden rule: don’t photograph others as you don’t want others to photograph you.

70 Street Photography Tips For Beginners

eric-kim-street-photography-europe-2015-trix1600-leica-35mm-black-and-white-1460

Dear friend,

If you’re reading this, you are probably either an aspiring street photographer, or a street photographer with some miles under your belt looking for some inspiration, direction, or motivation.

To the best extent of my abilities, I have outlined my top street photography tips below. This is a culmination of the last 10 years I’ve been shooting street photography in earnest. All of these are just “tips” and “suggestions”— none are rules.

So feel free to pick and choose with what resonates with you, and throw away the rest. Read the full post below, or access the free downloads:

Scroll to Top