Perfect Pearl

eric kim street photography hanoi-0002040 cindy project hat hanoi

Dear friend,

One tip I have about photography is this: strive to make each of your photos a perfect pearl.

1. Strip the superfluous from our photos

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That doesn’t mean that each of your photos will be perfect pearls. But rather, we strive to strip away the superfluous from our photos (like a rough pearl).

2. Pearls aren’t born perfect

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When we first harvest pearls, they aren’t perfectly circular or spherical. Rather, we need to polish our pearls, and to cut away the rough edges, to make a perfect pearl.

It is hard to think about trying to create a massive body of work in photography.

Rather, I just try to seek to make good photos.

3. What is a good photo?

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To me, a good photo is that perfect pearl. A good photo has depth of soul, strong composition, and says something about myself.

A good photograph is autobiographical. A good photograph reveals how you see the world. A good photograph doesn’t have any superfluous elements in it.

4. Make a pearl necklace

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One of the best ways you can work on a photo project is this: make a bunch of photos which you consider good photos (pearls), and then “string your pearls together” (to make a beautiful pearl necklace).

Therefore when you’re out making photos, don’t think too much. Just make as many good photos as you can, and take your time.

Not only that, but figure out your photo projects after you go out and make photos. Don’t go out and shoot with a photo project in mind.

When it comes to “stringing your pearls together” — figure out the orders in which you will add your pearls to the necklace. What order do you want to put your photos in your photo project, and what story do you want to tell?

To me, story-telling in photography is all about the photos you decide to choose, and what order you put them in.

5. Pearls take time to form

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The way that pearls are made is that a little piece of sand is inserted into an oyster, and over time, the oyster builds a callous around the piece of sand– which eventually turns into a pearl.

This process takes a long time.

Therefore, when we are making our pearl photographs, we need to be patient. Good pearls take time. Good photos take time.

And of course, if you want to make a pearl necklace (a good photo project), this will even take longer.


eric kim abstract

Some practical ways you can make better photos:

  1. Subtract from your photos instead of adding to your photos
  2. Think to yourself before uploading images: “Is this photograph better than the previous photo I uploaded?”
  3. Wait a week before uploading images: Let your photos ‘marinate‘ before you realize whether they are any good or not

And the last tip is patience. Remember, photography is a personal journey which is a marathon, not a race.


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