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Eric Kim: 10 lessons William Klein has taught me about street photography

By dpreview staff on May 1, 2013 at 19:29 GMT

We love the work of LA-based street photographer Eric Kim, and we're big fans of his regularly-updated blog. In this 2-page article, originally published on his website, Eric explains how the work of famed street photographer William Klein has taught him valuable lessons that inform his own outlook, and his photography.

Although he trained as a painter, William Klein is best known as a photographer. As well as becoming an internationally-recognized street photographer, Klein also achieved fame as a fashion photographer and commercial and documentary filmmaker. In 2012, Klein received the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award at the annual Sony World Photography Awards.

Comments

Total comments: 33
Alex French photographer
By Alex French photographer (11 months ago)

Am I the only one who thinks that Eric Kim is an irritating fraud? These are the reasons:
- Never seen a good picture taken by him!
- His blog is filled with pictures of others including legendary photographers but his are nowhere to be seen (might have changed).
- He is a spoilt brat who got an M9 from his mum because he told her that he absolutely needed one to take good street photography (it is not me saying it, it is Kim himself on one of his numerous Youtube videos). I have nothing against people who have money or even spoilt kids (although I think that it is not doing them a favour) but, stating that you absolutely need an M9 to take good street shots is totally ludicrous!
- The story about him having an M6 but needing to upgrade to an MP was equally ludicrous.
- The "wow film is so great for street photography and I discovered that you could push b&w film" videos on Youtube were particularly irritating for those of us (young or old) who have done it for years!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Nei1
By Nei1 (11 months ago)

I'm a little tired of photographers draping themselves around genius in order to elevate themselves.......it doesn't work,in fact just the opposite.

1 upvote
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (11 months ago)

These are things used to be OK, now it's called "Child Abuse".

0 upvotes
fad
By fad (11 months ago)

This article does a fine job of subtraction from the sum total of human knowledge and understanding.

We discuss it on Street Photography Exchange a little:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51397142

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51399973

Just be aware that this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. It's a danger of photography that one can navigate it and be all on the surface.

1 upvote
Dan Wagner
By Dan Wagner (11 months ago)

Hi Fad,

I'd like to know what you think of my street photos: danwagnerphotography.com am I worthy of carrying Kim'sm camera bag?

0 upvotes
Marksphoto
By Marksphoto (11 months ago)

Today's street photography shot with digital cameras will never envoke emotions of true photos which film era brought to us.

The quality is there but the character is missing and since digital is so cheap and available practically to everyone there is nothing unique about today's photographs and since supply and demand still exists, digital photos will never have value to people who appreciate true art.

0 upvotes
Alex French photographer
By Alex French photographer (11 months ago)

I would disagree with that.
On the emotional side, you can always make a digital photo look so close to a film one that nobody would really be able to distinguish one from another. But that requires post production skills and time.
On the technical side, larger sensor cameras (medium format or full frame) produce images that are so much better than the smaller sensor ones and, those cameras are so expensive that you can still distinguish pros or wealthy and talented from the mass of amateur photographers using cameras with smaller sensors.
I will admit that you can take great pictures with some mirrorless cameras (fuji x for example), some compacts and some camera phones but, because of the deeper depth of field, the lower amount of details resolved, the higher noise, it is more difficult and not all scenes can produce great pro grade shots that can be printed in larger sizes.

0 upvotes
ranjix
By ranjix (11 months ago)

I do realize that people have different taste, but I don't really wish to see again any of these photos, I find them just too grotesque... Artful? I think so. Memorable? Not in a good way.

0 upvotes
pierrep
By pierrep (11 months ago)

Thank you ! A very, very intersting article ;-)))

0 upvotes
arondddd
By arondddd (11 months ago)

The take away points are nice, just don't label them as such. Posing pictures is fine as long as you don't pass them off as candid. It seems rather misleading if you do. Given the random, unbidden nature of worthwhile moments, I can see where one's impatience might temp one to try to goose the moment by interacting with people. Still, there's something unseemly about 'talking' to people when all you really want is their photo. It's not unlike the Hare Krishna, Jehova's Witness, or Mormon missionary who wants to know how your day is going. I don't doubt EK's commitment for street photography, of course.

0 upvotes
NDaniel
By NDaniel (11 months ago)

a very good article love it :)

if you have time kindly drop by to:

my portfolio at www.facebook.com/nisdanielphotography

regards

Nis

0 upvotes
Thanatham Piriyakarnjanakul
By Thanatham Piriyakarnjanakul (11 months ago)

a very good article love it :0

if you have time kindly drop by to:

my portfolio at https://www.facebook.com/9Peding

regards

TNT

0 upvotes
Anepo
By Anepo (11 months ago)

I love how positive eric is about basicly everything, watched several of his videos as well but i feel personally that he goes way to far in photographing people that it looks like stalking and harassment rather than street photography.

I respect him, but his methods is something i have got a bit of a moral issue with and i would personally never do street photography the way he does.

4 upvotes
peterkim
By peterkim (11 months ago)

I believe that you're putting Street photography in the wrong category. Would we agree that Street photography is an art form? If so, art does not need justification.

0 upvotes
RFC1925
By RFC1925 (11 months ago)

Interesting read. Wouldn't mind seeing more photography articles here.

Btw. What's up with all the asterisks in the article?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (11 months ago)

we have a naughty words filter - sadly it cannot be overridden :)

1 upvote
Ybor
By Ybor (11 months ago)

The article is a good roll up of William Klein which may prompt first hand reading of his published material. In turn, the reader can get their own takeaways.

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (11 months ago)

Still waiting to see my first good street photography image.

3 upvotes
roblarosa
By roblarosa (11 months ago)

Not a William Klein fan?

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (11 months ago)

Who?

1 upvote
WellyNZ
By WellyNZ (11 months ago)

Not a Cartier-Bresson fan?

0 upvotes
JPrez
By JPrez (11 months ago)

do yourself a favor and look up Daido Moriyama.

Enjoy.

1 upvote
Acrill
By Acrill (11 months ago)

I agree with your general sentiment - most street photography I have looked at is not very appealing.

There are some of Trent Parke's images that I do really enjoy: http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult_VPage&ALID=29YL53ZJBIEZ&CT=Album

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (11 months ago)

"There are some of Trent Parke's images that I do really enjoy:"

These pictures are horrendous. I'd delete them in-camera.

And, no, I've never seen an HCB street shot that was any good. He has a couple of non-street shots that are okay.

Is there something about "street photography" that requires everything to be out-of-focus, motion blurred, black-and-white, clipped or crushed, tilted, and/or badly framed?

0 upvotes
chj
By chj (11 months ago)

Problem is too many street photographers are trying to emulate the styles of decades old photographers with decades old equipment. There are street photographers putting out beautifully shot images:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chee917/galleries/72157632556923198/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chee917/galleries/72157632638618799/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chee917/favorites

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
peterkim
By peterkim (11 months ago)

Chj,

Who did Henri Cartier-Bresson (the father of Street photography/ social documentary photography) emulate in his earlier years as a photographer? Who was he influenced by?

In my opinion, a photography is not soley on sharpness. It is an art form, they express through making pictures with film or digital, or film or digital. Those are only tools. I find at times, the sharpness of the picture can be distraction to the form and content of the photograph.

0 upvotes
G Davidson
By G Davidson (11 months ago)

Fair enough, but don't forget a large part of appreciating any art form is how you view it.

0 upvotes
chj
By chj (11 months ago)

peterkim, that's exactly my point, when talking about street photography everyone drops Cartier Bresson's name and tries to emulate him to the point that that "look" is absolutely cliche. I agree, sharpness is not the goal, capturing a spontaneous moment is more the goal. But some people are trying to emulate outdated photographers to the point that they think a blurry, grainy shot is the goal. It's not, it's just the best that photographers could do 50 years ago. If they had today's equipment, they would strive to put out high quality shots.

0 upvotes
OpticsEngineer
By OpticsEngineer (11 months ago)

That first photo reminds me of the old adage "First establish a rapport with your subject."

1 upvote
bed bug
By bed bug (11 months ago)

Some of the images are blurry, some are out of focus, some have very strange compositions...yet they all work!

Excellent article DPR, thanks for posting.

Stephen

5 upvotes
historianx
By historianx (11 months ago)

Yup that's street, one of photography's purest forms. If some of mine arent oof, or blurry, or strangely composed, then I have failed.

0 upvotes
WellyNZ
By WellyNZ (11 months ago)

@historianx,

I'm not sure blurry, out of focus or strangely composed photographs is a goal to try to and achieve. That feels to me like you're trying to hard. I think blurry, out of focus or strangely composed images are merely a result of the context.

2 upvotes
EvilTed
By EvilTed (11 months ago)

If you have learned so much Eric, how about showing us some of YOUR photographs for once?

2 upvotes
Total comments: 33