Saturday, 22 August 2015

Learning From the Masters: Eric Kim

Photo by Eric Kim 

It's been a while since I posted an article on something not related to my own work, so it's about time I do that again. Recently I attended a lecture by Eric Kim at Eyeem's Berlin HQ, which is just around the corner from where I live. I didn't know Eric before reading  the announcement of the lecture, although plenty of others do, since he is a young man who is making a living out of delivering lectures and workshops on street photography. On his web site he gives all of his ebooks and lectures away for free, and it's definitely worth a visit.

Earlier, I posted a lengthy article on how returning to digital photography has left me a bit at a loss regarding the direction I want to take. Street photography, which I had been doing on and off since the 1990s, was high on my list, but I knew that with digital cameras, I had to approach it differently from the way I used the Holga cameras. Hence my decision to attend Eric's lecture, which was entitled '7 Lessons from the Masters of Street Photography' and which can be viewed/downloaded here. It was thankfully light on technical stuff, but what little technical advice he gave was excellent and I started applying it the next day: basically, set the camera in P mode, put a high ISO (up to 6400) so that the camera uses fast shutter speeds, and there you go (or as an alternative, use a slow aperture setting to again force fast shutter speeds). Excellent advice as you needn't worry about camera settings when you're out shooting, and a voice of reason in a field where the general advice seems to be 'real photographers do it all manual.'

Eric also weighed in whether it was preferable to shoot candidly or with the subject's permission - he does both and has made some very good experiences in getting his subjects' cooperation for the shooting. I had earlier written about how frustrating it is in Germany to photograph people as they are very reluctant to have their picture taken. But on my recent visit to Marseille, France, I decided to try and approach people to let me take their photo. So I chatted with people and then asked if I could take their picture. It didn't always work out but in half the cases it did. Since being back in Berlin, I've tried the same. More people turn me away here, but certain folks are happy to have their picture taken - but that's the stuff for another article...

Back to Eric then. One of the things he also preaches is to keep things simple. That includes your camera gear. He advocates using one camera and one lens.  Again, very good advice as I was considering taking three cameras with me to Marseille (a Fuji, a Leica and a Holga), and based on Eric's advice, I only took the Fuji. The decision saved me from backaches (lugging that gear around in a backpack) and from headaches (pondering which camera to use for which situation).

As I said, Eric is full of very good advice, different from what you get from other photographers, and all his output is available for free, so there is no reason not to go and  read up on his stuff.

Eric's links: