Using this lofty billionaire feeling, let me try to strive to make some immortal photo thoughts:
The first question we must deal with is to define photography, or to at least try to discuss what it is, and why it is significant.
To me, photography is about making images which you consider beautiful and artistic. Not all the photos you shoot must be beautiful or interesting, or artistic, but the apex of our photographic pursuits as photographer-artists is seeking to create beautiful images in our own eyes.
No. If you study the philosophy of aesthetics, it comes from the Greek “aesthetikos” which just means perception. However you perceive the external world is aesthetics.
Therefore, assuming you’re Stevie Wonder, and you’re blind, you will probably perceive the world in a different way, and also experience beauty in a different way. Or, depending on your life experiences, your gender, your sex, where are you live, etc., your notion of beauty will be different. Also depending on your age.
For example, if you are going through puberty as a hormonal teenage boy, your notion of what makes a beautiful woman is probably different than thinking about this in your 30s.
Also, much of aesthetics and beauty is based on your society and the corpus of literature knowledge and art with beauty. For example, if you look at old paintings which depict life in Korea or Japan, the notion of what makes a beautiful woman is very different than our modern notion of what makes a beautiful social media fitness star, Like Pamela Rief.
Also, the American notion of a beautiful woman in the 90s, like a Pamela Anderson, very very different than the members of BLACKPINK.
Also, the modern notion of male beauty through the K-pop group BTS is very different than the notion of beauty or masculinity in the 90s, like let’s say a 50 Cent.
The question you must address is this; trying to discover and pinpoint why you do photography, and what you want out of it. This philosophy inquiry is important, and this is why I invented the Zen of Eric or the Why app? Once you discover why you do something, it will give you a greater focus and direction in your life.
For example, I use photography as a tool to live a more adventurous and active life. Also, I have a strong passion for sharing information knowledge and inspiration with other photographers. Why? When I started off in photography, I was so confused and lost, and couldn’t really find any useful things on the internet to aid my journey. For example, no advice on how to conquer your fears of shooting in street photography, no advice on how to succeed as a photographer in the modern day world, and also, no real good resources on photography composition. And now, no real knowledge on a deeper purpose or philosophical inquiry on the why of photography.
Therefore, the knowledge I create and share it simply based on my personal curiosity, and also, striving to help other people who are similar to a past and present me.
To me, making photos which spark joy, gratitude, and wonderment in the world. Essentially, making photos which makes me happy.
In the past, my thought was trying to make an impenetrable photo, that nobody could criticize or critique, which would get lots of likes and favorites on social media. Now that I am no longer on social media, my pursuits have become much more zen; I am more interested in creating a stream of images, rather than single great images that will last forever.
The biggest benefit of studying the history of photography is in order to gain more self-confidence and what you’re doing right now and today. For example, also a lot of studying the history of photography was useful to debunk notions, like the myth of the decisive moment, the bad idea that you cannot pose your subjects were interact with them, and also, discovering the inner motivation and inspiration from other photographers.
Starting my series Learn From the Masters of Photography was based on my personal curiosity of this; how can I draw from the streams of knowledge in the past, in order to augment myself as a photographer?
Also, a power thing. A lot of photographers often name drop other photographers to make you feel small. I find this to be a very cowardly thing; does my deep distain for anybody who name drops other photographers or other artist too much.
For example, if you want to judge or critique another photographer or artist, best to say what it is, then what it is not. For example, you don’t want to say something like “he’s not Henri Cartier Bresson but…” Also a bad thing is when people tell you that it reminds them of photographer X, Y, Z, and how it “has already been done before”. For example, if you want to start a New York City metro subway series, a lot of these insecure photographers will tell you, “yeah but you’ll never do it as good as Bruce Davidson.” But if you study the history of photography, you will know that there were a lot of people who shot the New York subway before even him. I think it was Walker Evans who even shot Street photos on the New York subway with a hidden spy camera.
Also, past experiences should not prevent us from attempting our own path. For example, can you imagine a budding artist who doesn’t try his or her take an abstract painting, just because Picasso and Matisse already did it? Or, Seneca doesn’t attempt to throw around rocks because other kids have “done it already before“?
Social media is a trap. It is like getting a golden cage; and Mark Zuckerberg becomes your sugar daddy. Essentially, would you trade becoming castrated, getting your balls cut off, in order to get sponsorships, likes, followers, fame, and money? No. Even if somebody offered me $100 trillion, I would not cut off my balls.
Yet this is what happens. It is essentially the new modern Bed of Procrustes; you cut off your limbs in order to fit the algorithm, rather than the reverse.
Another thing. Don’t be like these pseudo-woke photographers who say that they only shoot for themselves and never share their photos with anybody. This seems not only to be false, but a strange thought. No human would desire to live on a desert island by him or herself, even if they had all of the modern day luxuries, and an infinite amount of wealth. We humans like other humans, which is essentially the big takeaway from sociology. Humans would not want to live on Mars, if there are no other humans around.
There is a positive feedback loop; we enjoy making photos, and we enjoy sharing them with others. Knowing that other people can enjoy your photos brings us dinner joy, and we continue and repeat the process.
My simple suggestion is create your own self-hosted blog, with wordpress.org, and you disable all comments, statistics, views, etc. And you post your photos as you please, and you just share a hyperlink with your friends and family, or just email a link to your friends and family.
I always forget my login information, but I always remember my phone number. Also, even though email is a very inefficient mode of communication, it is in sense the most open and frictionless technology we got. For example, if you try to add somebody on Kakaotalk, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, even telegram, it is a big pain in the butt. Easier to just get their phone number and text them or call them, or just get their email and email them.
This is where I like the idea of creating and owning your own self-hosted email newsletter (Sendy.co). 99.99% of email newsletters are very annoying and just spam; I say, make your email newsletters as juicy tasty and delicious as well fried pork belly. Ideally with a side of kimchi on the side.
A simple way to approach it is this; send emails and email newsletters that you yourself would like to receive. Also, do not send things to people that you would not like to receive yourself.
Also, have you ever gotten an email newsletter from something or someone that you don’t remember signing up for? Don’t do that.
I have not yet figured this out, but I do like this idea where perhaps some sort of photography social media 5.0 could be based on SMS, text messaging, and the phone. Maybe some mash up of Apple iPhone iMessage, and SMS, and photos and videos. For example, I really enjoy sending photos of Seneca and videos of Seneca to friends and family using iMessage, which syncs well between my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook laptop.
Once you get two Lamborghini rich, and you become famous, you’ve had the silo exhibition, you’ve published your book, you get spotted in public, etc., then what?
Most photographers never make it this far, but I have. Therefore, I could speak a little bit of my experiences based on my position.
Essentially what happens is that sometimes this can become a trap, the success trap. That the path in order to become successful and famous is what got you to the top, but in order to keep on ascending, you must innovate a new technique and path. The trap that a lot of successful people fall into is that once they’re at the top of the mountain, they just keep doing what they did in order to get to the top of the mountain, rather than innovating a new path.
And this is the tricky thing with entrepreneurship, even like Peter Thiel said in his book Zero to One. The next trillion dollar company will not be an Amazon, Facebook, a Tesla, etc. But something else.
Therefore, can you “teach“ entrepreneurship? I believe so. They are pretty much based more on basic principles, like risk-taking, risk aversion, being scrappy with less, etc. This is where I also like to study the Titans of the past, in order to give me more motivation and courage to attempt strange new paths. Also, hearing the real life story of past entrepreneurs is useful because it helps you understand that most successful entrepreneurs didn’t have access to unlimited manpower, wealth, resources, etc. Essentially The founding of Google was two nerdy guys in a college dorm, using scrap computer parts, and stealing the broadband Internet connection from the Stanford campus. Today, if you put a SergeyBrin and a Larry page inside of Y Combinator tech accelerator, they would not create something quite as epic as Google.
And just follow your intuition and your enthusiasm. Don’t do what bores you, only do that which excites you. I think this is the big motivation that drives a lot of my experimentation with the GoPro, point of view videos, and also experimenting with different resolutions like 5K, 4K, etc.
And the thing is this; the journey is the way. That means, photography is a continuum; as long as you’re alive, breathing and making photos, consider yourself blessed.
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