ERIC KIM WORKSHOP – WORTH IT ?
As with most other people who come across the name of Eric Kim, I also stumbled upon his reference through a search in google. You type “street photography”, and his name comes up somewhere amongst the first few search results.
I was about to click on the first result, which obviously would have led me to his official webpage. But then, my curiosity took me to some other results….”Is Eric Kim full of S***? Intrigued, I decided to click on the link. It was interesting to start reading with negative perspectives about him, and then one link led to another and then another. Some openly admiring his style and approach, some feeling put off. The overall feel came out that he surely brought about something different in street photography.
In this process, I came across his page mentioning about his upcoming workshop in Singapore. Early registration for USD 500. I was in dilemma. One side of my mind wanted to give it a try. I have not been to Singapore. Why not combine a family visit and a photography workshop. Even if the workshop did not work out, I would have spent some good time with my wife, by adding a couple of vacation days to the itinerary. The other side of my mind was having some trepidations. If the workshop is not of much use, my money would be wasted. With that much money, I could probably buy some much needed equipment, like a secondary camera or a good flash.
The duel in my mind lasted for a couple of days. Then finally the risk taker in me won the battle. I chose to go ahead and give it a try.
Come the d-day, I finally landed in Singapore one fine morning. The meeting place was in a café, and one after the other, the participants joined the coffee table. My first impression of Eric was like – Oh this is Eric ! Youngish looking, and conveying his thoughts in the next gen style in a VERY EXPRESSIVE manner. Trying to gel in was some effort but slowly I got into the groove.
His first assignment was for all of us to go out into the adjoining streets and click at least 10 people in their everyday life and get them to say NO to clicking their picture! For the next few hours, our groups were on the prowl, trying out their own different ways of approaching the assignment and then we came back to brain storm. The most surprising result was that most participants struggled in getting too many NO responses ! The obvious initial hesitations quickly gave way to more positive approach to subjects when being approached and very soon the participants got into a mode where they were comfortable in reaching out to any stranger and requesting a photograph.
The rest of the day was spent in going through couple more assignments (minimalistic or something like that). And by the end of the day, minds got together to discuss and interact. Everyone looked at the images of all others and critiques were exchanged and notes got shared.
Personally for me, I was not sure whether this is what I came for. I have been into street photography for a couple of years now and do not have much fears to conquer. Also, I already have a reasonably good basic idea about street photography. Not much learning for the day, I told my wife, and we focussed on enjoying the evening on the streets of Singapore.
The next day morning meeting at the café started off with Eric getting into some details on the finer aspects of photography. How to get more into your photograph with “arabesque” approach. Getting a flow or more dynamism into the composition was discussed through analysing photographs clicked in the previous day. For me, here on the workshop started becoming more interesting. Eric shared more thoughts on “figure to ground” or “subject to background” and extreme minimalisation through play of exposure and other such tips.
Yet again, we ventured out into the streets of Singapore. This time, our action was in Little India. Clearly a difficult proposition to try out the concepts of minimalism in the overflowing streets of Little India, where action was happening all around us. Eric was in full mood, working with different participants and showing them different angles to click and before we could realise, all of us were fully hooked on to applying the learnings of the past hours. And as the day progressed, we got into understanding and applying leading lines, creating triangles and so on and so forth. China Town and Little India in Singapore are really awesome places for anyone to learn or fine tune their skills of street photography.
In all this rush of clicks, and leading lines and what not, we never realised it was almost evening and our tired feet longed to find some good resting place. Luckily, our friend David had a great suggestion. We assembled at Zeppelin in Sim Lim square, which turned to be an awesomely created café concept and provided us a perfect setting for our interactive discussions. Next hour or so went into more analysis of our clicked images and Eric sharing his thoughts and critiques on what worked and what did not. As all endings go, team photos got clicked and bye byes were exchanged with a promise to catch up over social media groups.
Overall, how was the Eric Kim workshop ? My takes are as follows:
- It was clearly not a traditional type of photoworkshop with classroom discussions and powerpoint presentations on the techniques and settings while taking your photographs. The overall idea was to share certain techniques and themes and then going out onto the streets and applying the themes , then coming back and discussing the results.
- Was this workshop good for intermediate level photographers (I would like to consider myself as one)? By the end of the first day, my answer would have been a no. I thought it was more suited for beginners. But then as the second day progressed, and Eric slowly changed the pace and then brought about the aspects of practical implementation of dynamism in the photograph, creating leading lines, drawing triangles and so on, it became more and more enriching. By the end of the workshop, I started looking at street photography differently. I was now learning in an interactive manner and actually applying the concepts, and in the process, my approach of photography underwent significant change. However, as a constructive suggestion, I feel he should add more content to his workshop so that the learning is bit more compared to the investment !
- Eric is good fun. His way of teaching is subtle. Not as a typical teacher trying to force his thoughts into your head. He does it in a fun manner, and the whole workshop is actually on the streets and is just like any other street photo action day with friends around. He explains certain concepts and then gives practical examples in his own inimitable style. He would suddenly start prancing around in a crowded street telling you to click a photo with shocked onloookers trying to decipher what is going on. But amidst all this, you slowly absorb a lot. In my view, it all depends on what you want to absorb, understand and then implement from the various tips that you get from Eric. Many, or most of the things which he explains are all out there in the internet. It is all about going out into the streets with him and actually applying it all and imbibing the learnings to change your skill levels. It is done in good style and you end up with something positive to take home.
Am sharing some photographs clicked by me during my Singapore trip, some taken during the workshop and some afterwards. Would love to hear the feedback ! Did EK workshop effect show in my images? Do tell !!!