Powered by Passion

“This is my passion!” – Dr. Dre (COMPTON ALBUM)

One theory that I’ve had in life ever since I was a kid was this notion of following your passion. Up until now, at the age of 35 (born in 1988) I’ve been quite successful in my endeavors.

I think the subtle nuance is in regards to your passion, one must not be suckered into invoking some sort of strange moralistic ethical or even social economic or financial ends. That is, the traditional bias in regards to following your passion is that it must have the potential to make a lot of money. Otherwise it is not worth it.

Based on my personal life journey, following my passion has been fruitful. However at the same time, I was “realistic“ about it;

My passion was photography, street photography, travel, but I did not think I would realistically be able to make a living from it.

My personal journey was when I was in high school, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I knew that you UCLA was my dream school. I racked up all of my extracurricular activities, did Boy Scouts, became an Eagle Scout, etc., and even though my SAT and my GPA was relatively low , I think my SAT was 1920 out of 2400, and my GPA was only a weighed 3.9, I was able to get into UCLA.

My grandfather was a famous doctor back in Korea, and none of his grandchildren became doctors, so I thought I’d take up the torch make my mama proud, and become a doctor.

I ended up enrolling in UCLA as a biology major, and upon my first quarter I hated it. Also I knew I hated math, so I wanted to stay away as far from it as possible.

What I ended up doing instead was going to the course registrar, thinking of changing my major, and I saw sociology on the list. I thought to myself, “I like society!” and immediately changed my major.

At the time, everyone thought I was crazy. Everyone just asked me, “What are you gonna do with that major? Either become a low paying teacher or a social worker”?

Eventually I discovered that studying sociology was actually really beneficial in studying marketing. Marketing was always something I was interested in, and while the time I was in undergrad, Facebook just released the newsfeed, the original iPhone 3G just came out, and social media seems like the future. And that’s where my journey began; starting my online presence portfolio, blogging and making YouTube videos, traveling the world, becoming “successful”, etc.

After all the accolades, I started to enter a philosophical pursuit. I wanted to discover more meaning in my life, etc., thoughts which I also propagated on my blog.

Why passion?

Another thing that I’ve learned “growing up“, getting married having a kid, etc. is that at the end of the day, money is not the end goal, financial security is not the goal, not even “financial independence“ is the end goal. The end goal, in the ongoing pursuit is in regards to your passion.

For example, the primary industry that I am in is the photographic one; everyone wants to pursue their passion of photography, make more time to do it, improve and advance or improve their photography etc, yet it seems that basic things like peoples careers, jobs etc. keep them in the way.

What is it that we humans seek?

I think ultimately what we desire and seek is to continue to expand, to continue to propagate ourselves in the world, and to take over. Nietzsche quotes Plato saying, “Once upon a time, it was the desire of man to become master of all men“.

For myself, I have zero interest in becoming master of all men. Why? Too much management. The more time you gotta manage other people, means less time you have for yourself, pursuing your own passions and interests, etc.

My current passion and interest is in regards to coffee; I truly believe that coffee, insanely great coffee, specifically fine robusta is the key for having you power your potential and achieving your personal maximum in photography life and beyond.

Not financially that big of a deal?

A funny thing in regards to coffee, the coffee industry is truth be told, I don’t think it’s that profitable. That is there is a quadrillion coffee brands out there, Starbucks, etc., the profit margins for coffee are slim to meager at best. I think anyone who is in the coffee business (shout out to Colby from VERVE) is because they are actually insanely inspired and passionate about it.

Can you revolve your life passion around a beverage?

I personally believe that coffee is a means to an end. That is, my passion for coffee, insanely great coffee is that I see it as a critical part of my creative life. That is, coffee is the most supreme and critical part of my creative life. I want to share this passion with others.

Therefore my vision for ERIC KIM OMAKASE Coffee was this;

If I could create my own ideal coffee concept, my own ideal blends, that would stir me into creative genius, what would it look like?

I think one of the great things lacking in coffee is around this notion of productivity. We all know that coffee makes us more productive, why not center a coffee concept around it?

Also, coffee as a critical part of our thinking process, philosophical thinking, etc. So why not revolve a coffee concept around thinking?

The last is in regards to photography. For me, photography and coffee go hand-in-hand; almost all photographers I know also love great coffee. So why not combine the two?


Share your passion

Ultimately we humans are a social species. All of these trillions of dollars in the global economy is simply an offshoot of call collaborative human activity and human metabolism.

Thus a simple thought on success:

Power the metabolism of others!


To continue powering your thoughts, some more ideas for you:

The Philosophy of Coffee

Has any thinker ever wrote a comprehensive treatise on philosophy of coffee?

Now that I am officially part of the coffee business, I wanted to use this opportunity to think and philosophize on the philosophy of coffee.

Why coffee?

Coffee is a weird and beautiful thing. First and foremost, funny enough I made it through all of college without the aid of coffee. I only discovered coffee waaay later after Cindy got me addicted.

My personal story and journey with coffee is actually really funny; the first time I went backpacking through Europe with Cindy, I remember one of the first phrases I learned in French:

Un cafe s’il vous plait.

It was supposed to be the cultured thing to say, do and know. And upon my surprise, I remember the first time they brought out the tiny espresso cup, and it came out in the tiny espresso cup, and I looked at it and yelled aloud:

“That’s it?? I paid 2 euros for this tiny thing??”

However moving forward, espresso, and my passion for espresso and minimalism has advanced. Personally speaking, I love the dimensions of espresso, the espresso cup, etc. I love how tiny it is, and how distilled it is. And for the last decade or so, traveling the world, my funny and silly quest to strive to discover perfect espresso.

Also, there seems to be this interesting synthesis that I get from this combination of coffee, creativity and photography. For example, whenever I teach a photography workshop, having a coffee break is a critical part of the experience. And also, if I need to stir myself into creative action, coffee is a critical part of my ritual.

Some people drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.

Taking the power into your own hands

I think the difficult thing in today’s world is obtaining and procuring great coffee. That is, eventually, sooner or later, you got to get coffee somewhere. Either you could just buy it at your local neighborhood coffee shop, or you could just buy it at Amazon or Whole Foods, and get it delivered to you, etc.

However, the problem that I’ve personally discovered is that whenever you buy coffee, it is always dissatisfying. At least in the states, I have never been able to find roasted coffee, or roasted coffee beans which I consider insanely great. Enter ERIC KIM OMAKASE COFFEE.

The substances we consume are critical?

It is funny, there is all of this trend towards organic food, grass fed meat, etc. Yet it doesn’t seem that we put the same standards on the coffee we consume.

Let us consider that in America in the states, coffee might be the most consumed beverage we consume. When we first wake up, we take a shower, what is the first thing we do? We hit the kitchen, and we make ourselves some coffee.

Everyone has a different ritual in regards to their morning coffee. Some of us grind our whole bean coffee, enjoy the fragrance in the air, and pull an espresso. For myself, this is what I do.

How much coffee is enough?

I used to be part of this type of Silicon Valley thinking, the quantified self movement, in which I try to limit myself to some sort of arbitrary number of coffee a day. Now, I said fuck it, I have as much coffee as I want. In the morning, I will just keep pulling espressos until I feel hyped up. Sometimes this is five or seven espressos. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I don’t keep count anymore.

My only constraint is that typically later on in the day, afternoon, I have a pretty strict coffee cut off time. I discovered that whenever I have coffee past noon, or too late in the day, I cannot sleep at night. But beyond this, the more coffee the better.

Poison is good for us

First and foremost, coffee is a drug. Also very funny, after water, coffee is the most consumed beverage on the planet.

How does coffee work? The caffeine inherent in coffee and coffee beans is actually a poison; coffee beans and coffee plants naturally have caffeine in them to ward off predators insects and other pesky things trying to eat it.

However for us humans, coffee just gives us a great buzz. A philosophical thought;

It is the poison in coffee which stimulates us, and stirs us into greatness.

Great men require great stimulants?

Philosophical question;

Is life better with coffee, or without?

Certainly there are lots of downsides of coffee. If you consume it too late in the day, you cannot sleep at night. Also, coffee and caffeine addiction is a real thing. Every once in a while, I abstain from coffee and caffeine for over 24 hours, typically when I get sick, or during long international flights.

However, from a philosophical perspective, life is better with the poison of coffee.

To take this analogy further, along with the downsides, annoyances, and sadness is in life is metaphorically present in the notion of poison. Some people try to make it all throughout life without any sadness grief, tragedy, or downsides. Yet, life without tragedy, life without poison and sadness is not a life worth living.

“The poison in my pen”. – JAY Z

How to become stronger

The biological concept of this is “hormesis”; not to be confused with ”homeopathy” (pseudo science). The basic notion of hormesis is this:

Small doses of poison are good for us, they stimulate us, and make us stronger.

For example, the natural caffeine in coffee is good for us, as it stimulates us, stimulates our bodies and minds, stimulates the muscles in our legs, getting our metabolism going, etc. However, drinking 1000 cups of coffee in a day is probably not good for us.

The dosage is the poison.

Also, the reason why I think coffee is interesting is that I don’t think it’s just the caffeine, there’s probably some other chemical or thing inherent in coffee which we love. I personally predict in the next 30 years or so, we will start discovering all these other additional chemicals or organic compounds and substances in coffee which is good.

Robusta is the way

A huge innovation; luxury Robusta, fine Robusta.

Why? Robusta has a higher caffeine content than typical arabica, in my mind at least 2.2x stronger.

Also, my personal theory is that robusta coffee may actually be better for us from a health perspective, as the natural sugar content in Robusta is at least 60% less than arabica. Therefore, if you want to maximize your fat loss, become leaner and meaner, robusta may be superior for you than arabica.

My personal quest with ERIC KIM OMAKASE Coffee is to create a unique coffee portfolio for you, to stimulate you in all aspects of your life.

For example, to inspire motivate you creatively and artistically, and to give you more joy and happiness in delight in your every day life.

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy insanely good coffee.


Coffee on spaceships

For a while I was really into this whole notion of spaceship philosophy; that is, if indeed we do go to Mars, and are forced to stay stuck inside a spaceship for that long, what would our lives and lifestyle look like?

First and foremost, it does look like we will be drinking coffee on a spaceship. For example the space movie I watched with Chris Pratt, the funny thought that in the future, rich people will be privileged enough to drink really luxury coffee on the spaceship, whereas the poor and lower class people will be restricted to only the low class coffee.

Also, even watching the Dune movie, the new one, the ritual in which the local people would still make coffee, but using their spit.

Therefore, it seems that from a pharmaceutical perspective, and even a life perspective, there is something critical in coffee which we love.

Coffee is a philosophical thing.

The synthesis and combination of coffee and the planet.

Coffee shops, culture, the sharing of ideas.

Caffeine as a great motivator for us.

Coffee, caffeine being the best natural drug with the maximum amount of upsides, the minimum amount of downsides.

Moral of the story;

Drink more insanely great coffee!


Perfect Thoughts?

Using ERIC KIM COFFEE as a motivator, some thoughts in regards to perfection:

Going beyond perfect?

Going Beyond Perfect

What does this mean?

What does it mean to go beyond perfect?

For a long time, I’ve been very interested and passionate about discovering perfect. The perfect lifestyle, the perfect place to live, the perfect devices, the perfect aesthetic, etc.

However, once you discover perfect, you have to go beyond perfect — that means, to make it ever more perfect.

Ever more optimal?

For example, for my whole life I’ve been seeking a perfect camera, and I think I found it in the Ricoh GR III, RICOH GR IIIX even the Ricoh GRII.

However, my insane frustration with the RICOH GR-series cameras:

Eventually, they all break.

Thus the never ending goal and path:

To seek an even better solution?


To seek more perfect than perfect?

Lenses Matter

Ever since my RICOH GR IIIX went kaput, I’ve just been experimenting and shooting with my old LUMIX G9 x Leica Lumix 12mm f1.4 lens and the surprise:

The lens is actually insanely good.

Thus the thought:

Perhaps the lens is critical.

That means … to make the apex beautiful and great photos, getting and choosing and selecting the best, most supreme, the greatest and most perfect lens is critical?

For micro 4/3rds, Leica LUMIX Lens as insanely great.

Also, Leica 35mm f2 Summicron ASPH lens as perfect.

A thought:

Perhaps the ideal camera is interchangeable, like a Sigma fP/L with M mount lens?

Why iPhone perhaps is a poor idea?

I think the promise of the iPhone, iPhone photography, smartphone photography in general is alluring. Why? From a simplicity and minimalism perspective, it seems that iPhone, iPhone Pro seems ideal. Why? The maximally small device which is always with you, which affords you more photo opportunities.

However, despite all of my philosophizing about this, and personal experimentation, ultimately the takeaway point:

You can’t fool physics.

Ultimately I think what we are trying to do as photographers is to create images which outlast us. My personal ambition is to make photos which last at least 300 years from now.

Becoming insanely discerning with photos, looking at my iPhone pictures, even photos I’ve shot on iPhone pro, etc., ultimately when you look at the details, iPhone, iPhone Pro, is insanely dissatisfying. For myself, my current setup hits the spot for me, even though it is insanely bulky and unoptimal.

The body

First and foremost, the camera body is actually not that important. Not even the sensor. I think what is most important in a camera, camera body is the in camera JPEG processing, the film simulation look. For example, the Lumix G9 camera that I am currently using and the dynamic monochrome mode, adding the grain effect and contrast to the max, the photos are very beautiful and satisfying.

I suppose then, any Lumix camera or Panasonic camera which has this dynamic black-and-white mode, and the grain effect is a good one.

And also, any camera or digital camera which has good in camera JPEG processing is good, for example, the film simulation color profiles of the Fujifilm cameras are phenomenal for color.

The Lens

The reason why I really like the Panasonic Lumix Leica 12mm F1.4 lens is the fact that it has an insanely close macro mode, which makes it great to shoot portraits, capturing detail and sharpness in the eyes, gestures etc.

Also from an aesthetics perspective, something about the resolution and the sharpness and overall lens quality of the Leica Lumix 12 mm F1.4 lens produces an insanely beautiful photo, especially with the in camera black and white high contrast monochrome grainy setting.

Once again, this is a critical thing, because the iPhone, iPhone Pro lacks any sort of good in camera monochrome processing which adds a grain effect.

Details in the whites?

Also something that I find truly phenomenal, with my current Lumix G9 and Leica Lumix 12 mm F1.4 lens setup is that there is actually detail in the highlights, the whites, and the grain effect looks aesthetically beautiful and pleasing! As good as typical film, black-and-white film.

And this is good, because then there’s no more need to shoot real film photography.

Investing in the new, breaking free from the old

Probably the biggest benefit that I got traveling abroad, and then coming back home in the states is this;

Breaking free from the old way of doing things, and re-discovering new ways of doing things.

For example, new fashions, new approaches, etc.

To rediscover a life with fresh new eyes. The biggest upside of traveling.

Therefore, if you want to transform your life, just travel! Jump on a plane, go to Saigon Vietnam, go to Hanoi, go to Seoul South Korea, etc.

Where in the world is ERIC KIM?

Currently back in sunny Southern California, with the beautiful bright sun, and new excitement and enthusiasm for life.

I am still very committed to innovating in photography and life and creativity.

Some things to be grateful for being back in the states:

First, ultimately, despite what people may say, having the privilege of living in America is how much cleaner and less polluted it is then all around the world. For example, the biggest downside of being in the other abroad country is pollution.

For example, I think the hot debate right now is around global warming. I think some thing which is critical to consider is not necessarily “global warming“, but, pollution.

Pollution is easily noticeable and palpable, especially when you are in Asia. Even apparently in South Korea, the pollution has gotten so bad you can’t even see the sun anymore.

How is America privileged?

Let us consider that almost all of our manufacturing is now abroad, which means that countries like China, Vietnam produce all of our products, which causes pollution, and we are able to enjoy our beautiful apple devices back home without the downsides of pollution. Let us consider that all of the Apple products, the iPhones we love are all produced by Foxcon in China.

Also the benefit of America is that because we are so far away from everyone else, we are not negatively affected by their pollution.

For example, South Korea, Seoul is relatively clean, but all of the pollution being next-door to China negatively affects Korea.

Are there for my personal thought is that moving forward, let us not debate about notions of “global warming”, which seems to be a futile political battle, but instead let us talk and discuss more about issues regarding pollution.

This is where California is intelligent; it seems that California is one of the most desirable places to live in the world. Why does everyone want to move here? I think for the most part the climate and lack of pollution is relatively good. For example in the Bay Area, the air is clean, and the pollution is low. Also in Southern California, pollution is pretty bad, but it has gotten much better.

I don’t want to live in Las Vegas even if I was a billionaire

Another trend is it looks like a lot of people are moving to Arizona or Las Vegas, but it seems that the big problem now is record-breaking heat. If you live somewhere that is always over 100°, and the sun is so powerful and scorching that you can’t even leave your house, is it all worth it? Would you want to be a billionaire if you just had to be stuck at home all day?

Even if you had the worlds best Porsche, Lamborghini, hyper sports car etc.; if you are just simply stuck in a car all day, is it worth it? I say no.

Where should you travel?

My friend Timothy Flanagan; the best blog for inspiration and motivation. For example, South Korea.

Japan and Hiroshima

There are 1 billion places you can travel to, but some personal places I suggest:

  1. Mexico City, especially if you live closeby, in Southern California, California or the states. I recommend staying in the Roma Norte neighborhood
  2. Seoul South Korea
  3. Hanoi or Saigon, Vietnam
  4. Phnom Penh Cambodia

Lifestyle thoughts?

I am still quite certain that the best life is a light outdoors. I like in the direct sun, a life directly in the elements.

I get more power from the sun, natural light, even though the sun rays may burn me.

During these scorching summer months, a simple thought is to just cover up. Wear clothing that covers up your skin so you don’t get sunburned. But still try to maximize your time living outdoors.

Porsche and Lamborghini are lame?

I suppose the thing that I am grateful for, especially after spending some time abroad and being back in the states, is that a lot of these material things don’t interest me anymore. For example, my personal interest in Porsche cars, and also Lamborghinis has plummeted almost to zero. Instead, I am more interested in coffee, going back to the gym again, and also passionate about this 2010 Prius that I re-inherited. I still think hybrid is insanely great.

Having more time to review your photos?

Ever since getting back, being abroad, etc., a tricky thing is that I’m shooting around 1000 photos day, and it doesn’t seem like I have enough hours in a day to review all of them. Perhaps this will be my new pursuit; figuring out a way to more effectively review my photos, quickly, upload, and publish them.

Also I thought; I think SmugMug runs on Amazon Web services, maybe I should just create the next SmugMug, Flickr, or some sort of free online photo sharing platform? Instagram is bad, Facebook is bad, Flickr is dead, we need better solutions.

A simple solution you could do right now is just start your own WordPress website and blog on Amazon web services, and just start publishing!


Photo Futures



See all the slides here >

I essentially I think that our next advancement, our next personal evolution is in regards to becoming a visual artist. Becoming more artistic, and seeing ourselves as artists.

Therefore moving forward, just see everything that you pursue and do as an artistic thing. Then at the end of the day, you can permit yourself to do anything and everything you want!



Forward the motivation!

If this sparked even an ounce of inspiration or motivation within yourself, feel free to forward to a friend!



Things on my mind

  1. The best car is just a white Prius?
  2. Hygiene means the art of health
  3. Focusing on more health matters, like even going to the hot sauna at the gym?
  4. Maximal time in the direct sun to give us energy and power
  5. More thoughts on moving the world

Never stop thinking: