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Matinee: Eric Kim Interviews Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

18 April 2015

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the eighty-first in our series of Saturday matinees today, a double feature of interviews with Eric Kim.

As you may know, Eyefi is hosting a webinar with Eric Kim on Monday. And our story announcing it has been surprisingly popular. Kim lists six free videos on his site but we dug around for a short clip or two just to acquaint you with Kim before the webinar.

The first video is the most recent, shot in August 2014. In just under four minutes, Kim talks about how he felt first taking street photos, what photo books have inspired him and the importance of understanding your own motivation.

You can probably guess that he felt afraid when he first started taking street photos. He would freeze when his subjects looked back at him. Which was a problem, he admits, because hesitation kills great images.

But he always wants to be a little afraid, he adds. Street photography is hard and scary. If it wasn't, he argues, it wouldn't be important.

He suggests a number of photo books beginning with Magnum Contact Sheets, which he has blogged about.

What he learned from that one book is that the "decisive moment" was usually found among a series of a dozen or so images taken at the same moment. Not just one click. So it's perfectly acceptable (even advisable) to "work the scene."

He recommends you buy books rather than cameras, lenses and accessories. But not how-to books so much as books of images by photographers who inspire you. "Buying books not gear is the best investment a photographer can make," he says.

And ask yourself why you take photos. For likes? For recognition? For fullfilment? Every photographer should know the answer to that question, he suggests. You should appreciate your motivation.

Our second Kim interview, shot in the streets of Hong Kong, is three years old. Kim and Gary Tyson from F8 Photography, which is based in Hong Kong, had just presented a street photography workshop.

Kim really enjoyed the openness to street shooting of the people of Hong Kong. He would smile (he demonstrates) and say thank you and 99 percent of the subjects were happy to have been photographed, making it one of his favorite places in the world to shoot street photography, he says.

The Hong Kong workshop was evenly divided between male and female photographers, which was unusual. Everyone learned something, even Kim. "When one teaches, two learn," he says.

Taking a photograph of a stranger without their permission is generally not socially acceptable, he acknowledges. But it means different things in different cultures, he observes, and almost always the reaction in Hong Kong had been positive.

It is, it seems, how Kim himself connects with the world. And you can connect with him at the Eyefi webinar Monday.

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