Eric Kim is a photographer based in Los Angeles . He’s a careful street photographer , with an eye naturally led to all that happens particularly in the streets. Entering in his site and see his portfolio is a bit like going around the world. There are shots taken everywhere. At times the street is strictly urban, but it’s the attention on detail to make the difference in his photography. Kim is also a photographer very careful to the web, present on various social networks, launching interesting initiatives on the network, confirming that the photographer has the obligation to know the mechanisms and the sharing tools existing today.
To start, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, my name is Eric Kim and I am a street photographer based in Los Angeles. I have traveled the world to places such as Paris, Rome, Florence, Prague, London, and Seoul.
Did you go to school to study photography?
I did not go to school to study photography. Rather, I learned everything I know about photography through the internet and simple experimentation. However what I did study in school was Sociology, which helped me understand how people communicate and interact with one another.
I would like to begin by asking you about your photography approach. Are you the type of photographer who carries a camera wherever you go?
One of my rules as a photographer is to always have my camera by my side. I have noticed that I most often get the best photos in the most unexpected places. Therefore I always urge others to do the same.
In street there are two types of street photographers who sit and wait at a location for something to happen and those who are constantly on the search. I would like to ask you what is your street photography methodology?
My style of street photography is a combination of both. There are times in which I will be roaming the streets and I am fortunate enough to take a photo of something that happens right in front of my eyes. There are other times in which I see beautiful scenes in which I wish to capture it with a person. Therefore at times I wait for the right person to walk by, but I typically don’t wait for over a minute.
What is the street photography for you?
Street photography is about capturing the beauty in the mundane. For this it means capturing ordinary moments in our everyday lives—which we typically dismiss. It is about documenting real life which is often unscripted and underappreciated.
How would you describe your style?
I would say that I like to capture juxtapositions—whether it is in shapes, colors, or people. I love to focus on contrasting elements in my viewer, which tells the viewer a story.
Why Black and White?
I love black and white because I feel that it helps the viewer concentrate on the image, and not get distracted by other elements or colors. Not only that, but I feel that black and white is able to capture the soul of people-beautiful and raw.
You are essentially a digital photographer. But…what do you think about Analog cameras for Street Photography? For example I dream a Rolleiflex…
Although I shoot mostly digital, I have recently been shooting quite a bit of analog. I have an old World War II Contax IIIa Film Rangefinder which was inherited from my late grandfather. I have noticed that it helps me slow down and concentrate, and focus on taking better photos (as I have limited film). Not only that, but I love the grain and richness of film photographs.
You are very busy on internet. How much is important the web for a photographer today?
If you wish to become well-known for your photography, using social media on the web is essential. This means having an active online presence on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. Although it does take up a lot of time, it is a wonderful way to build a community with like-minded photographers. Not only that, but it gives you a wonderful audience to share your photography with.
Fixed lens for your photography. I’m in total accord with you. Would you want to explain to our readers the reason of this choice?
For street photography, you should always stick to prime lenses (not zoom lenses). The reasoning behind this is that with wide-angle prime lenses, you are forced to get closer and more intimate with your subjects. With zoom lenses, photographers often get lazy and become voyeurs of a scene, not participants. Furthermore, prime lenses allow you to become more creative with your shots through the limitations of the focal length—and concentrate on making images.
How do you feel about cropping an image?
Although it is ideal to take a photo that doesn’t need cropping, I don’t any problem with cropping. This can often help the photographer tell a better story. If your photo would look better with cropping why not do it?
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
My most memorable street photography was when I was shooting in the streets of Beirut, Lebanon. A few months back, I was invited by an organization called Spreadminds to teach a street photography workshop – and I had the time of my life. I met so many wonderful and kind people, and people actually liked getting their photos taken in the streets! Not only that, but the food was amazing as well.
Your favourite photographer? Tell us one of the past and one contemporary…
My favorite photographer from the past is Robert Doisneau. I loved the images that he captured in Paris which were often uplifting and happy. Not only that, but he was able to perfectly capture the innocence and beauty of children. My favorite contemporary photographer who is influencing my work is Daidò Moriyama, a Japanese street photographer. His black and white images are full of emotion and energy—raw and gritty with a heavy vignette.
I am in the works of publishing a street photography book which is focused on practical tips and advice through a Swedish publisher. Not only that, but I plan on teaching a street photography workshop in Brighton, UK on May 21st. I also hope to continue building up my blog and meeting other famous contemporary street photographers.
Tell us a street photography tip to our readers…
Follow your heart when taking street photos and don’t be afraid. Get really close to people when taking their photos, and see yourself as their friend rather than a stranger. Appreciate life around you, and never take the small things for granted. Love and capture the world around you.