My Eric Kim Workshop Experience

Eric Kim Workshop Making Of

Marcus & Eric | Berlin | 2017

Just a little over a week ago I had one of the most memorable photographic weekends ever when I attended the workshop “Conquer Your Fears in Street Photography” with Street Photo Legend Eric Kim in Berlin. For my in depth experiences from the workshop plus a bunch of both “behind the scenes” images and my workshop “results” continue after the jump…

Eric Kim Workshop Making Of

First Thoughts on Street Shooting

Not long after I started shooting in the streets, I discovered Eric Kim’s blog, and I’ve been an avid reader ever since. If you want to know what role he plays in today’s street shooting scene, just enter “street photography” in Google search, and his website comes up first (not to brag, but if you enter “street photography nuremberg” in Google search, the “Streets of Nuremberg” appear top of the list as well ūüėČ ).

I like Eric’s unconventional, simplistic¬†approach to Street Photography, the wide variety of things he shoots, all easily recognizable by his very distinctive style. His goal is to empower people, and he intensively does so with all the fantastic open source material he provides on his website and via his blog.

So when I discovered that he planned one of his workshops on my doorstep in Berlin, there was little hesitation in signing up for my personal face-to-face Eric Kim experience.

The camera I brought along was my trusted street shooter Olympus PEN-F with the mZuiko 12mm F/2 and the mZuiko 25mm F/1.8, which I used for 90% of my shots.

We met on a Saturday morning in a gallery in Berlin, where a former student of Eric, Russian born and now US based artist and photographer Mitya Trotzky was running an exhibition of his “Fugitive Souls” project (if you are in Berlin, go see it, it is still running until January 6th 2018).

Eric and his wife Cindy welcomed me and 12 other participants with the same energy I knew from his blogposts. From the first moment I was fully comfortable and impressed by the group that shared the same spirit, despite the fully diverse backgrounds and wide range in age. After first fun introductions Eric assigned us each a shooting buddy from the group, and we started taking shots of each others in a little role play to get comfy. You can see my shots of my shooting buddy Michel Atreides above Рand make sure you visit his awesome website www.fallingintoadream.com.

After the warm-ups and some prep-talk from Eric we went out onto the Streets of Berlin. While half of the group walked with Eric for some practical hands on advice and shooting, the other half worked in their shooting buddy pairs on two simple assignments: Ask people walking the streets for their portraits and try to collect 10 “no – thanks”, and snapping pictures of people until the notice you and then start to interact with them. All in all it was so much fun and so much easier than expected. Michel and myself pushed each other to¬†ask the¬†most interesting looking people we¬†encountered, and we got to talk to super¬†interesting people, meeting amongst other two crazy boys from Edinburgh, a¬†make-up stylist from Italy and a designer of fetish garments.¬†They all were happy to share their stories, we exchanged cards and promised them to send them their photos.

Yes, there were also people not interested, or to shy to get their portrait taken. But not once did any of us got any hostile comment, the worst we collected was a simple “no thanks”. And actually it was quite difficult to collect the ten “no” before we met with Eric for the lunch break at a coffee shop

My lessons learned was that the more interesting, stylish and strange people look, the more likely they have no problem having their photo taken, as most had a very extrovert nature anyway.

Eric Kim Workshop Making Of

Making of – Michel and the Ladies

 

Drawing Blank

Drawing Blank | Berlin | 2017

This great guy from Scotland was photographed first by Michel. When my shooting buddy turned to take a portrait of his friend, I complimented this guy on the tattoos on his hands. Then he asked me if I would like to see more. When I said yes he “drew blank” ūüôā .

And here we are again, there are so many people who are actually glad someone doesn’t only look at them in a strange way, but is actually showing interest in their looks and stories and are happy to let you take their photo.

Gotcha

Gotcha | Berlin | 2017

 

After the lunch break it was our turn to venture out with Eric. It was incredibly beneficial for me to learn hands on from one of the masters, and there was so much to pick up on valuable advice and tips he shared with the group, while having a lot of fun due to Eric’s funny nature.

Day 1 ended with a dinner at a nice little restaurant where we shared war stories from the day and some great shop talk with Eric and Cindy.

Sunday morning we all met at a coffee shop, where we also met Eric’s sister Annette, who joined us for the day. With a fresh assignment we walked out again towards the Mauer Park flea market at the Berlin wall, another great place to shoot street portraits (both candid and with permission). On the second day, asking¬†interesting people if I could¬†“make” their portrait¬†came almost naturally, as approaching and asking people was no big deal anymore.

Retro Looks

Retro Looks | Berlin | 2017

I saw this interesting looking guy in a seventies look wandering around the flea market, and I decided I wanted his portrait, so I observed him. When¬†suddenly realizing he was about¬†to leave, I practically chased him¬†down and asked if I could¬†make his portrait. He smiled at me and replied “sure, but only a little one”. He¬†is the¬†owner of a 70’s garments boutique in Berlin. His partner was even more¬†dressed in a stunning¬†70’s outfit, but when I asked her she politely refused, so I left it at that, but was rewarded with at least one great portrait and a good story.

Why me

Why me | Berlin | 2017

The question I got a lot during the workshop from the people was a surprised “Why me?” But I simply explained I liked their looks, that I’m a street photographer documenting the daily live of our times and that I have a blog where I publish my photos and also theirs if they are fine with it. Some interactions were really brief, and in some we really talked about the stories of life, which I found so enriching.

After the flea market we had a break in Eric’s favorite Berlin coffee shop (read my post about it here).

 

Eric Kim Workshop Making Of

Fun with Eric | Berlin | 2017

 

After coffee we headed back out for some street photography composition lessons like shooting layered street photos, that turned out to be a fun group shooting observed by amused pedestrians. Walking back to the gallery was also a great opportunity for some great talk with Eric and his sister Annette.

Eric Kim Workshop Making Of

Learning Layered Shooting | Berlin | 2017

 

 

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast | Berlin | 2017

 

At the end of the workshop we all met again at the gallery where Eric gave us some tips on post processing and editing images. Especially valuable were his tips around “killing your babies”, how to cull your shots down to the few really great ones.

We then all had to kill our workshop babies and select the bet three shots that were openly discussed by the group, to select the master photo from every participant (you can find the post on Eric’s blog with the winners here).

I already did a post about my three best shots.

Then it was already time to say goodbye. While some stayed on for a joined dinner, I needed to head back to Nuremberg which turned out to be a five hour drive, most of it through the first snow storm of the season.

Eric Kim Workshop Making Of

Critique from the Master | Berlin | 2017

 

In conclusion, it was an awesome workshop, that delivered on my expectations and extended my photographic boundaries. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to meet and work with a bunch of incredibly talented people with whom I hope to stay in touch going forward, because they are inspirational to me.

It was awesome to have the opportunity to meet Eric, Cindy and Annette, who not only organized a brilliant session, but also impressed¬†with their fun and open minded attitude and their great competency around what they do. This great bunch I “knew” from the Internet turned out to be really great people¬†in reality that were a pleasure to work with.

An Eric Kim workshop is not a cheap thing to visit. You can get a real good camera body or a great piece of glass for the fee you need to pay. Was it worth investing the money in this workshop instead of gear? Absolutely. You just don’t become a better photographer from better equipment, but by studying the masters, learning from the best and by going out shooting with peers who inspire you and push your limits.

Thanks so much to Eric, Cindy and Annette, Michel and all the others for a great and memorable weekend I will never forget. Hope to see you all again to roam the streets of whatever city together.

There is also another great blogpost about¬†our workshop¬†from fellow participant Guillaume Groen that you can find here.¬† Eric’s Berlin diary¬†that includes shots from our workshop is here.

Click here ¬†if¬† you want to see our feedback video that Eric published on his youtube channel, there is also a statement from myself in there ūüėČ

Finally, I want to explicitly state that this review is fully based on my personal experience as a regular participant of the workshop, on my interactions with Eric, Cindy, Annette and my shooting peers, that I paid the full workshop fee and do not receive any benefits for writing this. It is intended to provide my readers with guidance if this (or any other similar) street photo workshop would be a worthy investment for them.

Don’t forget to check out my free Learning Center for all my tips and inspirations around street photography.

Have a great Thursday

Marcus

Related Posts:

I conquered my fears

Finding your photographic style

A Street Photographer’s Business Card

35 comments

  1. You actually answered some lingering questions I had about the value of attending street photography workshops. Eric Kim is, of course, a man who needs no introduction in street photography circles. I think I became aware of him when I was actively beginning my Ralwegians project 4 years ago. That’s when I realized that the photos I was drawn to taking belonged somewhere. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like it was useful and a lot of fun. I would love to take more street portraits, but I admit, approaching people isn’t easy for me. Partly because my response to someone asking would usually be no. Hypocritical, I know. Trying to be better about giving and getting when it comes to photos. It’s funny – in a photojournalist environment I am perfectly at ease taking photos of people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, much appreciated! Funny, Eric said that people who are opposed to have their own photo taken usually assume that others would say no too. Thus they don’t even try to ask others. Actually, we had some of those in our group. But the “try to collect ten no’s” exercise did the trick on all of them ūüėČ !

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That sounds like an amazing time Marcus! I have an especially hard time with “killing my babies”. I’ve been carving out 20 minutes a day to weed through my old photos because I have way too many and need to get in a better habit of doing that after I’ve uploaded a series.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marcus while I have not participated in any photographic workshops, I have enjoyed some street photography sessions. I have documented two of those on my blog. I’m not natural at street photography but street vendors here don’t mind being photographed for many reasons. I generally don’t shoot from close proximity and I click them in action rather than ask them to look towards camera. Essentially I’m not a street photographer. Thanks for the insights‚Äč. I love reading your informative posts on photography.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had such a great time reading your post and seeing the soulful photos you made Marcus! This took me down a trip to memory lane of the wonderful day I spent with you and the other workshop participants.

    Also, the man in the “Retro Looks” portrait seriously looks just like my boyfriend (who is a twin)! You found his long lost triplet!

    Keep up the fantastic work. I’ll be following your blog as an avid fan ūüôā

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Annette, your kind words mean so much! I really enjoyed our conversations during the workshop. So funny you think I found your boyfriend’s secret triplet :-)!! As an avid admirer of your graphic visualizations I’m looking forward staying in touch! Marcus

      Like

  6. Marcus, I am glad that you wrote more about your workshop with Eric Kim. First photograph, where you with Eric Kim is wonderful!!!

    And then I looked at all your street photos taken during your workshop and thought that you are a very gifted street photographer!!! And inspirational also! I am happy that our paths crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, an actual street photography weekend workshop, how amazing! Loved reading about all this, seeing your images and some others, and the cool bit of Youtube footage. I have no confidence yet to actually ask people’s permission. Maybe one day…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That day shooting with Marcus and the others was my first time photographing strangers and asking for their permission. It actually was easier than I thought it would be and was such a fun experience.

      If I (the 0% experience in photography noob) can do it…YOU CAN TOO!

      Liked by 2 people

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