How to Become an Immortal Photographer

eric kim cindy project portra 400-

“If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away.” – Victor Hugo

Dear friend, don’t just photograph for yourself– photograph for your future generations:

1. Immortality

cross red

None of us will ever be immortal. We will all die. But our photos will never die. They will last forever– either as pixels, as megabytes, as prints. They might survive in photo albums, maybe on the cloud, on our social media accounts, in books, or somewhere else.

eric kim photography smartphone android street3
Photo of Anna Kim, my sister, shot on a smartphone.

Our photos can be immortal; we cannot.

2. Photograph for your family

0- cindy project- mirror reflection parents

It is hard for us to get published in a fancy photography magazine, to get exhibitions, or become ‘famous.’

A more realistic goal: you can photograph your family, for your family.

Photograph your loved ones. Photograph your kids, your parents, and photograph yourself.

Make family photo albums (real ones). Your future grandchildren (or their grandchildren) can one day see those images, and re-live those precious moments.

Buy a cheap photo album wherever, and get cheap 4×6 prints made (at a drugstore, or order them online). Sit down with your family one evening after dinner, and have a ‘family activity’ of putting together a photo album. Decide where to put certain photos– where to pair certain images, and what flow you want for the photos. Much better than sitting on the couch and watching Netflix with the family.

I’ve done this with my family and Cindy — and it is great to laugh, re-live these nice memories. I got cheap prints made online with Costco, and I even printed some photos shot on a smartphone. They all look good.

And it really isn’t about the image quality; it is about the emotional quality.

So in practical terms, photograph not just for yourself; but for your family, and with your family, and make albums with your family, for your future family.

And when you travel with your family, make artistic photos of your loved ones.

3. Make beautiful art for humanity

halmunee-grandma-eric kim photography seoul-0003562-2

If you die and have 1 photograph remembered after you die; you’ve done your job as a photographer.

Even when you think of the great photographers from the past, most of them are only remembered for 1 image or so. Henri Cartier-Bresson? Bicycle shot. Richard Avedon? Beekeeper photo. Josef Koudelka? Devil-dog photo in the snow. Nick Ut? Napalm girl.

Whoever says photography cannot change the world is a pessimist. I think photography can change the world. Photography can change the world by changing the emotion of one individual; which can send shock-waves and a domino-effect throughout humanity.

So make the most beautiful photos in your lifetime, to hopefully uplift the souls of future generations.


cindy a nguyen making stuff
Cindy making stuff at her family home in Garden Grove, 2016

Just a reminder– you will die. Memento mori.

Don’t think of making photos just for today — to get a bunch of likes on Instagram or social media. Rather, seek to make photos that will outlive you.

So always seek to improve your photography, to improve your composition, and to add more soul to your photos.

Just seek to make that 1 blissful photo that will outlive you.

And in a daily basis; photograph and document your loved ones. Remember, photography is a meditation on life and death.


Read more: How to Photograph Death >