Eric Kim, a street photographer from Los Angeles, produced a video where he walks up to strangers in Hollywood and snaps their photo with a wide-angle on a Canon 5D and a handheld flash.
He tells his readers he was trying to emulate Bruce Gilden, the notable street photographer from New York City.
The strangers appear taken aback, which is understandable, but most just go on their way.
He even photographs a woman with her child without getting assaulted or accused of pedophilia (although judging by her looks, it did cross her mind).
He eventually photographs a man who calls him back, demanding him to delete the photo, informing him that he must ask permission first.
Kim happily obliges without correcting the man that he is wrong. We all know there is nothing outside common courtesy that requires him to ask permission first.
Kim is a popular photographer who even conducts workshops on street photography.
But despite that, he is receiving some heavy criticism on his blog for the above video.
There’s just nothing going on in those photos, definitely not street photography. At best you’re just trying to copy Gilden’s way of shooting…You seem so adamant about integrity and the purity of street photography yet hand out phony compliments (“nice hat” “I like your shirt”) just to try to get away with your way of shooting.Somewhere on your blog you made it a rule that it was about quality and not quantity, you should try to stick to that rule a bit more closely.
As much as I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, my instincts told me that Eric Kim is a bit of a wannabe, who picked up a camera one day, decided that street photography would be his thing and then found out who the big guns are, what equipment they use and from then on that was all that mattered. It’s one thing to say that you admire a certain photographer’s style and even appropriate technique/choice of equipment, in this case Bruce Gilden, but it’s a whole different story to just take what they do and just outright copy it. I’m a fan of Bruce Gilden’s work, though not his style but do understand that his images work as a result of his unashamed nerve, it certainly does not work here.
Eric, I admire what you’ve managed to do with this website and even more so that braveness you’ve demonstrated in taking the leap to pursue your photography full time, but cut this shit out. If you stuck a camera in my face like this, I would take it from you and throw it under the next passing bus.
*****Sorry Eric, I know it’s all about experimenting and/or trying new things, but stick with what you were doing before. I liked that style of yours better.Quite a few of those people looked annoyed, and you shouldn’t have deleted that last picture, even if it was a shitty picture. Stand your ground, don’t be pushed over just cause he said you HAD to ask permission. Pfffft public space.
Kim responds to the criticisms in this video.
I really don’t have an issue with the video, but he did say he wanted to make it an educational video.
However, he failed to provide one of the main lessons in street photography; that you are under no obligation to delete a photo if ordered to do so.
I would suggest taking this experiment a bit further and walk around photographing cops on the beat.
That would be much more interesting. And riskier.