Sunday, May 11, 2014

Street Photography 101 with Eric Kim

I missed the DPP8 the other day at Bonifacio Global City but fortunately, I was able to attend the free Street Photography talk with Eric Kim, a California-based street photographer (Los Angeles to be exact).

The event was sponsored by Fujifilm Philippines and CameraHaus Megamall and it’s fun and enlightening. Eric Kim is a great photographer and teacher. They even gave us some treats at the end of the talk.

Erik Kim Quiapo PhotoWalk

This is the first time I’ve attended a street photography talked and Eric Kim explained the concept very well. He started off by having an activity of staring someone in the eye for a minute or so in a very close distance – it felt very awkward at first, but eventually, my activity partner and I got used to it. Same thing with street photography – strangers would find it awkward at first but as you spend some time with them, it eases the tension. Smiling at strangers while taking their pictures and explaining what you find beautiful in them (to take their pictures) helps a lot.

He also talked about taking chances in asking people to take their pictures. You will never know whether a person would say yes or no unless we ask. Treating other people as human (regardless whether you’re in California, India, Tokyo or Manila) is the general rule in street photography.

Eric Kim also explained the settings of his current Fuji camera and the logic behind it. He shoots mostly in P-Mode with ISO 800-1600 and with flash. The reason for this is because he keeps his shutter speed at 1/250 of a second to capture the emotion of the person. He shoots mostly in 35mm and with no zoom. His demo camera was the Fujifilm X-M1 and I also liked his video using a GoPro on how he did his craft in Intramuros.

He also gave a little-bit of information about some of the concepts of street photography like having “bookends” – people at the opposite side of the frame – and having an “anchor” in the picture (someone or something that’s not moving). He also explained about having the 3D effect on the picture by simply having different people within the same frame but on different distance from him, thus having a depth.

Eric Kim also explained the concept of having Contact Sheets – and that since we’re using digital cameras, we should never take a single picture of the subject. We should always take several shots from different angles. He showed some of the world’s famous street photographs and showed the Contact Sheets of these pictures. Some used 24 or even 36 shots to come up with a very good picture. The winning photo could either be on the start, middle or end of the Contact Sheets. Now, I’m going to Google more photos from the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Kalvar and Martine Franck.

Street photographer Eric Kim explained the difference between Editing and Post-Processing. Editing is choosing your best photo (from a Contact Sheet) while Post-Processing involves Cropping, changing pictures to Black and White, etc. He also gave a practical tip to decide at the beginning of your photo-walk whether you’re going to shoot in B&W or Color.


This is one of the two photos Eric Kim gave to the participants at CameraHaus Megamall. He’s literally giving his photos for free on his Flickr page.

Lastly, he gave some practical tips on how to be a great street photographer – like turning of the LCD of the camera so as not to avoid the decisive moment. He also emphasized the importance of having a clear background in the photo, always shooting in RAW and to treat street photography as a passion and hobby (not something that you can earn from), having no watermarks, and to use a camera that you feel comfortable carrying around.

Thanks again Eric Kim, Fujifilm Philippines and CameraHaus for this wonderful street photography talk. Today, May 12, 2014 Eric Kim will be in Quiapo for a PhotoWalk (6:00-9:00AM) and at Fully Booked (7:30-11:00PM).

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