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Eric Kim on the pioneering color photographer Stephen Shore

By dpreview staff on Aug 14, 2012 at 00:55 GMT

Popular LA-based street photographer Eric Kim has posted an interesting article on his site, entitled '5 things Stephen Shore can teach you about street photography'. According to Kim, Shore - an American photographer best known for his 1970s color studies of American landscapes - has a lot to teach today's street photographers. Kim suggests five maxims gleaned from his analysis of Shore's work, which he thinks constitute good photographic practise when shooting on the street. These include 'Shoot Color For Visual Accuracy And Realism' and 'Go Against The Grain' as well as more prosiac advice such as 'date your images'.

Do you agree? Would you add any more aphorisms to Kim's list? Let us know in the comments. 

"Ginger show", Tampa, 1977 (photograph by Stephen Shore)

Comments

Total comments: 199
12
nonuniform
By nonuniform (Aug 14, 2012)

I studied with Stephen Shore at Bard College.

I'm not surprised that many of the comments here are negative reviews of the work. The one thing I learned from Stephen was how to pay attention to the world around me. I left school with a self-awareness about my work, that my stories relate to who I am, and how I see the world.

In the visual arts, one of the ways we learn is through looking. We look at the world, at the work created by others, and look inwards at our imaginations. Most of us start out by copying the work of someone famous. It's a natural way to learn, and then we move on. Or not.

Most of the images I see here, and elsewhere in popular culture, are mere copies of copies of copies of ideas. There's nothing new to learn from yet another snow-covered twilight scene of Half Dome in Yosemite. It's a pretty picture, and I'm happy that it's still there. The meaning of the image is proscribed by culture and most photographers have discovered nothing new to say about it.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
8 upvotes
justyntime
By justyntime (Aug 14, 2012)

Quote: " There's nothing new to learn from yet another snow-covered twilight scene of Half Dome in Yosemite."
Well said! There´s a whole scene of copyists that claims for themselves they`d do "fine art". In reality these guys treat photography as if it was just another hobby like hand-washing their Harleys every sunday.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
BaconBit
By BaconBit (Aug 14, 2012)

I really like this style of photography, reminds me of an Instagram from ~35 years ago, in the sense that it gives you a rough idea of what everyday life looked like back then. I make that comparison to Instagram in the best possible way.

Yes, I realize that saying that these photos show what everyday life was like back then is a stretch, but as someone who wasn't around when these photos were taken, I find them interesting to look at.

1 upvote
57even
By 57even (Aug 14, 2012)

Definitely the wrong forum for a discussion on art photography it seems.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
15 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (Aug 14, 2012)

Adroitly put.

2 upvotes
jedinstvo
By jedinstvo (Aug 14, 2012)

"For those of you who may not know, he is one of the early color pioneers in photography in America." - what nonsense. I'm the same age as Shore and the pioneering stage was long over by the time either of us picked up a camera. I enjoy looking at Shore's work but I don't understand these people who put him up on a pedestal. There's thousands of photographers just as interesting. Me included.

5 upvotes
BaconBit
By BaconBit (Aug 14, 2012)

So humble :)

2 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (Aug 14, 2012)

You are definitely included.

2 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (Aug 14, 2012)

Funny,, I've never heard of you. Neither has anyone else. Nor will they. Good luck, you living legend,, apparently.

2 upvotes
JakeB
By JakeB (Aug 14, 2012)

"There's thousands of photographers just as interesting. Me included."

Not judging by your gallery pics, mate. :)

0 upvotes
iaredatsun
By iaredatsun (Aug 16, 2012)

It's not really nonsense. I think it's well acknowledged that before Egglestone and Shore all so-called art photography was made in b&w. Work in colour was not considered worthwhile and ignored by the museums, critics and galleries. Check Svarkowski who curated Eggleston's first (colour) show at the MOMI in the 70s, – '76, I think.

I don't think Shore is particularly being put on a pedestal to the exclusion of any one else ( including you).

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
jf_tea
By jf_tea (Aug 14, 2012)

That article was quite interesting.
:)

3 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (Aug 14, 2012)

'snapshot' photography was all the craze in the '70s looks like its come full circle

1 upvote
iaredatsun
By iaredatsun (Aug 16, 2012)

Steven Shore, as I guess you know has been working steadily since his teens in the early 60s. So, he hasn't gone full circle, he is the circle.

0 upvotes
iaredatsun
By iaredatsun (Aug 16, 2012)

I wanted to add this –
I think culturally, everything goes full circle. All generations re-invent the past in their own image. It's probably always been like this, but the internet age has made it even more apparent.

0 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (Aug 14, 2012)

DPreview, how can I make you feature my blog on your site?!
I want instant popularity!!!

6 upvotes
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

Write a heap of crap, unoriginal, "me too" articles with lists - Make them all a "Top 10 of" and a "Top 50 of ", then link it to your YouTube site with a video of you "street shooting"... have at least one article on why you've decided to shoot film from here-on in, one on why film is different to digital (just recycle all the old cliches) and make that a "Top 10 ways in which film is different from Digital". Speak about Leica non-stop until Leica decides to sponsor you as a reward for your "ambassadorship" and "page views". Use Leica's sponsorship to lead street photography "Masterclasses" all over the world for the followers you have gained through YouTube and your blog. DPR will hear of your name through a blog entry you wrote (probably a "Top 10") which is "featured" on Leica's website and Voila !! Instant international acclaim and credibility (well, not quite instant, but these are the steps to replicate).

7 upvotes
iaredatsun
By iaredatsun (Aug 16, 2012)

DamenS, If you could do all that, you'd deserve to be featured!

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (Aug 14, 2012)

There's some merit in artless documentary photography. A lot of life is banal. Showing that is all right.

5 upvotes
T cameron
By T cameron (Aug 14, 2012)

After looking at the photos first I deemed the article not worth reading.

9 upvotes
BaconBit
By BaconBit (Aug 14, 2012)

You thought that was so important that you had to share it in the comments?

8 upvotes
Paul Farace
By Paul Farace (Aug 14, 2012)

Well I wouldn't buy a book of this stuff, but if folks are buying it, then good for him! The nice thing about street photography (and most photography in general) is that with the passage of enough time the work becomes interesting to historians and old farts like me (Sambo's Restaurant) for the historical paralax evident in the images.

5 upvotes
Gary Martin
By Gary Martin (Aug 14, 2012)

Stephen Shore (and William Eggleston) changed how I look at photography in general, and color photography in particular, so thanks for posting this. And I like Eric Kim's work, he has an excellent eye for color. And LOL at the comments here!

4 upvotes
W5JCK
By W5JCK (Aug 14, 2012)

I'm not a pro and don't care to be, but I've seen better shots from total amateurs using cheap disposable film cameras! The only thing interesting in any of those shots was an old Sambo's restaurant, which later changed their name to Denny's since Sambo's was such a politically incorrect name.

5 upvotes
LoScalzo
By LoScalzo (Aug 14, 2012)

Utterly overrated work.

20 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Aug 14, 2012)

widely misunderstood photography.

2 upvotes
Dan1964
By Dan1964 (Aug 14, 2012)

I like Eric Kim I subscribe to him on youtube

2 upvotes
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

LOL - I'm assuming this was deliberately ironic ... and hence VERY funny !

2 upvotes
BaconBit
By BaconBit (Aug 14, 2012)

What's so funny about it?

1 upvote
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

How many of today's great photographers do YOU "subscribe to on YouTube", hmmn ? 'Nuff said ...

2 upvotes
BaconBit
By BaconBit (Aug 14, 2012)

Is it unusual for photographers to make videos?

0 upvotes
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

That would be an example of vast reductionism and oversimplification. What I said explicitly is that great photographers tend not to have YouTube videos to which you can subscribe - but you still haven't remotely understood my point. I shall explicate it fully rather than relying upon your initiative:

Eric Kim is a social phenomenon, whose fame is derived entirely from outlets such as YouTube and his blog (marketing and self-promotion), rather than through his photographic output. There is nothing wrong with this, in isolation, however it is becoming obvious (even in this thread) that people are increasingly believing he has garnered accolades and renown for being a great street photographer - ala Bruce Gilden. My point is that this is not the case. There is a distinction between an internet star and a great photographer (and very few world class photographers have YouTube channels - at least at this point in time).

4 upvotes
Dan1964
By Dan1964 (Aug 14, 2012)

Anyone can take a picture but not everyone has a personality!

1 upvote
Abe Adew
By Abe Adew (Aug 14, 2012)

Oh enough with this guy. Eric Kim doesn't have a single renown photographic portfolio.

he's a self-claimed "international street photographer".

Whatever..

He simply went to Japan & US and took pictures, posted on his blog, just like every other tourist on earth.

0 upvotes
Dan1964
By Dan1964 (Aug 14, 2012)

Like taking pictures is rocket science!

0 upvotes
BaconBit
By BaconBit (Aug 14, 2012)

Actually DamenS, there was nothing explicit about your second to last comment. Maybe in your head it seemed explicit, but it wasn't.

Try not to be such a condescending jerk next time.

0 upvotes
VadymA
By VadymA (Aug 14, 2012)

Sorry but the entire article looks like a high school essay; nothing more than a compilation of thoughts that have already been said by somebody, somewhere, sometime. And I had exactly the same feeling when looking at his portfolio. I definitely respect Eric for pursuing his passion but I am quite puzzled by how his work could already make him so "popular".

14 upvotes
SexyNEXy
By SexyNEXy (Aug 14, 2012)

Agreed! Not sure what the big deal is. Maybe I'm missing something?

4 upvotes
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

It's clearly NOT his "work" which makes him popular. It was his self-promotion ... but therein lies a lesson really doesn't it ? I thought everybody already knew the cliche "it's not what you know, it's WHO you know" (in this case, Leica).

5 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Aug 14, 2012)

"I am quite puzzled by how his work could already make him so "popular""

Popularity has little to do with quality. That's why companies have marketing departments.

3 upvotes
H Smith
By H Smith (Aug 14, 2012)

Forgive me if I do not pay homage.
Nothing in that collection of images is even slightly interesting.

16 upvotes
latinware
By latinware (Aug 14, 2012)

Kim, it's great. Not only he has ballz, but hi has enough knowledge of street photography...

0 upvotes
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. He has a little knowledge of street photography (well recycled cliches mostly, but you get my point - which I have chosen to make through using a cliched aphorism).

2 upvotes
citizenlouie
By citizenlouie (Aug 14, 2012)

I don't know, the second tip was shoot color for visual accuracy and realism.... None of the photos shown are visually accurate and real by my definition.... Of course these 70's photos were shot on film so it cannot be as accurate as digital on this respect, but now we have digital, which we've spent hours on tuning color profile and monitor (and if you print your own photos, tune your printer), we can (try) to get to as close to 100% accurate color and tonality as possible. The result can be very /underwhelming/ for modern viewers, who are used to super saturated color and high contrast that totally devoid of any sense of realism. I've been doing things in vein of "what my eyes see is what my photos look like" and most people just find them boring, often remarks like "underexposed" or "doesn't pop" or even "no apparent subject." Well, it's nice to do photo realism (I deeply believe in it), but realism doesn't sell.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (Aug 14, 2012)

an accurate reproduction of a scene and a pleasing photograph are often two different things.

2 upvotes
Kidraver
By Kidraver (Aug 14, 2012)

Thats exactly where i am with the 'Pro' thing, am trying to sell photo's as large prints, which to my mind is where the money is, i am aiming at dreamy images that have a strong overall composition value that will sit on a wall, nice and quietly and entertain, here are a couple of efforts.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1047&thread=42253144

0 upvotes
citizenlouie
By citizenlouie (Aug 14, 2012)

To JackM. I know what you're saying. Though to me real is beautiful. It's a document of a point in time. If it's a gloomy day, the photo should reflect it. If it's a colorful day, then so should the photo. If the scene doesn't worth a photo, then don't take it. Beauty can come from something humble or something romantic. The key is to document the subject with proper technique, rather than to romanticize it. Any subject has a quality one can bring out. Whether that's a quality most people like is another issue.

Though I gave in a little bit, and now started to PP my work toward popular trend, but I do still mix a few real photos with "look at me" ones. The result so far has been pretty predictable. I do hope to send the message across that realism would be the time-tested beauty and won't go out of style as people's taste changes. Time stamp on the photo should be the scene itself, rather than the date you finished your PP.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (Aug 14, 2012)

I'm all for capturing "real", and most of my stuff is not photoshopped. But sometimes a photo needs help to become the scene we remember or would like to remember in our mind's eye.

1 upvote
citizenlouie
By citizenlouie (Aug 14, 2012)

That's my philosophy also. I think that's Ansel Adams's philosophy, too.

0 upvotes
Philip Corlis
By Philip Corlis (Aug 14, 2012)

Kim is a genuinely underwhelming figure in contemporary street photography. Looks like it was a very slow news day at DPReview.

7 upvotes
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

Yes. I'm actually a little annoyed with them for this ill-conceived "click through" cross-promotional opportunity. Content should be "king", not page views ...

2 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Aug 14, 2012)

I think a few people disagree with Kim's paparazzi style approach and deer in headlights subjects. From my limited knowledge of him based on his DigitalRev appearance, I prefer Zack Arias' kinder approach.

6 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Aug 14, 2012)

I think he was on a digitalrev video. He did street photography with film/flash setup. He would get right in peoples faces. I have to give him some respect..he has ballz. I did not find any of the front page images on his site very good but I know he is a really good street photographer.

1 upvote
Camediadude
By Camediadude (Aug 14, 2012)

I actually watched that a couple of weeks ago. While I do generally like DigitalRev and their humoristic stylings at times, I thought Kim, in that little demo/tutorial of his, to be kind of a rear-end. That is not a style I particularly admire or respect.

6 upvotes
DamenS
By DamenS (Aug 14, 2012)

I've never heard anybody with any knowledge of street photography call him a "really good" or even "moderately good" street photographer. I think you may need to learn a little more about street photography, so that your "knowledge" is a little more well-rounded, ahem ...

3 upvotes
Abe Adew
By Abe Adew (Aug 14, 2012)

agree with DamenS,

compared to in-public photographers, Eric Kim street photo knowledge is juvenile.

1 upvote
Total comments: 199
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