First off I don’t have anything negative towards Eric Kim. I have never met the man and I am not a hater either (although it may seem like it after you finish reading this post). In fact all the stuff I have heard about Eric Kim through friends that have either met him or have taken his workshop had nothing but really positive things to say about the man with one mentioning that his workshop is the best they’ve taken (this is compared to a few Magnum photography workshops…yes some people are better teaching than they are as a photographer and vice versa).
If you don’t know by now, Eric Kim is one of the most if not the most polarizing figure in the street photography world (I’m sure he does it strictly as a marketing tool). You either admire him or you are annoyed of him. In my opinion, he is the advocate of street photography and has been instrumental in promoting street photography on the internet and deserves a lot of credit for all his efforts to the genre (although I would never pay for his two day workshop of $1,500). Whether you hate him or love him, agree or disagree with his blogs, the quality of his photos, you can’t take away the fact he’s done his part in the world of street photography.
So with his platform and how much influence he has on the genre…Is Eric Kim good or bad for street photography? Below are several reasons why Eric Kim is good and bad for street photography.
Good – Advocate
Every sport, genre, or product needs a mascot…a cheerleader…a leader (especially in this day and age with millennial’s)…Eric Kim helped put street photography on the map in terms of the digital age (yes I know street photography has been around forever, I only said “HELPED” put street photography on the map by utilizing the internet). Making it more accessible for anyone to to garner any information by breaking it down to laymen terms for the not so photography techy person.
Good – Open Source
Providing open source materials (erickimphotography.com/blog/books/) and by sharing his knowledge and experiences on the genre is quite impressive. He has a whole library of content. Most street photographers I’ve met are really nice and open on how they approach the streets which was really refreshing to me because in the film/video world there are a lot of cliques and people that don’t want to share ideas because they’re either afraid of people stealing they’re idea/story and claiming it to be there’s or they’re afraid of the rejection.
Good – Workshops
Offering workshops that are unique and gets people to feel confident with a camera out in the streets is never a bad thing. He’s an entrepreneur who came across a niche in 2009 or 2010 whenever it was and saw great opportunity.
I have never taken a Eric Kim workshop and don’t plan to, however I have only heard good things about his classes and how he goes about it….Still doesn’t justify for me to cough up $1,500.
Bad – Commercialism
Eric Kim dominates Google the number one search engine and that’s not his fault…he worked his ass for that, however, when all you see is Eric Kim this and Eric Kim that with no one else chiming in…it’s bad for the consumer. Think about companies that monopolize their industries…it’s bad for the consumer because prices are jacked up and the quality of products offered to the consumer are not the best due to lack of competition.
That’s why I encourage that more street photographers blog and share their experience, ideas, and thoughts on street photography…Everyone’s experiences is different, everyone has a story to share…When everyone is contributing to the greater good it is ultimately better for society or in this case the genre of street photography…supply and demand folks. (Visit Jeff Chane Mouye website for good blogging on street photography http://www.jeffchanemouyephotography.com)
Bad – Overall Quality of Photos
In my opinion Eric has some good photos. His series on America is probably my favorite of his. However, overall his photos does not resonate with me (he’d probably say the same about mines). However, when you have such a big platform and following especially targeting those that are “New” to street photography, they’ll believe that based on his work or portfolio that this is how to go about shooting the streets…perhaps giving the wrong impression of what makes a good photograph.
Bad – $$$
Bragging about making $200,000 from street photography workshops and selling products is not something to boast about. This will motivate people to shoot for the wrong reasons and ultimately make anyone starting off in street photography desire cash money…we shoot to release stress and to get away from reality temporarily (I know he has many blog post on why to shoot, and zen photography etc but that’s besides the point). To make money the motive or the goal…. will only make aspiring photographers more miserable than they already are.
Eric Kim has been front and center of the online photography world. I would bet money that he could care less about the hateful comments or the positive ones. As long as it drives traffic and gets a reaction from you then he wins. It’s called Marketing 101….wait the fact that i just wrote a blog post on Eric…shoot see what he has done!!! #marketinggenius