Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pro Photographer: Eric Kim - The Sociologist with a Camera

Street photography has grown in leaps and bounds within these past few years with digital technology breathing new life into to the genre by creating high resolution cameras packed in smaller bodies. Today, street photographers roam the streets with smaller yet very capable cameras, shooting to their hearts content, the candid life out there.

Close to half a century after Henri Cartier-Bresson brought street photography to the public, there have been a number of new photographers taking his ideology to the next level.

Eric Kim is one of the new wave of street photographers who adds his charm and passion to his  art. With innate verbal skills to match his photographic eye, he can talk you into getting into the wackiest of positions to take a shot. 

His camera setup is one that features a camera equipped with a pancake lens and a Go Pro mounted at the top to document his street photo adventures (and misadventures) ala-Doom, First-person-shooter style. 

Two personas arise in Eric when you meet him, which can be loosely described as Eric the photographer and Eric the person. 

As a person, his lighthearted attitude towards life shines with an innate talent towards striking up a conversation with that will make you chuckle. He talks straight through  your funny bone which is how he bridges whatever cultural divide you may have with one another.  

As a photographer, you can see Eric’s tenacity and commitment to his craft, willing to go up close and personal (we’re talking macro levels here) with his subject, to get that shot.  His ability to blend his photographer persona with his lighthearted charm allows him to get up close and personal with his subjects without the feeling them feeling invaded.  

In his visit here in the Philippines a few months back, I was able to have a short conversation/interview with the international street photographer, and here are some of his top lessons.

Don’t worry too much on the technicalities

In the digital age, we are presently bombarded with information from every corner of the globe, giving us insight on anything imaginable. For Eric, he shoots for the sake of taking photos first and the technicalities of everything as a second priority “Don’t worry too much about if it is a good photo or not”, he mentioned. To be a good photographer, you have to shoot from the heart. 

Develop your own personal style

“There is no one right way to doing things (in photography)”. This is the short summary of Eric’s idea on developing your own style. To him, developing one’s own style is one of the key facets to making it in the world of photography. 

Work the Scene
Street Photography is about taking pictures at the precise moment, but it doesn't mean that all you can do is pray for that moment to arrive. Eric shoots a scene by taking a number of shots before moving to the next and advices those who take’s just one picture to take their time in one scene before moving to the next.  Taking one shot and leaving the scene is like buying a lottery ticket, you might get that winning shot, but more shots give you more opportunities.

When in doubt, click
According to Eric, many photographers worry too much about the definition of photography, causing endless debates and opinions on what a "photo" should and should not be. To Eric, Photography is a religion, with each photographer following a different system of beliefs, from camera maker, to lens types, to techniques, but each ultimately leading  to what photography is. Instead of worrying about what photography (or what a good photo) is, press that shutter button and find out for yourself. In Eric's own words, "There is no ONE right way." 

Connect with your subject
Unlike many street photographers, Eric doesn't advice to shoot from the hip.  "Shooting from the hip is a little sneaky. When you talk to your subject, you get more emotion and the best photos are emotional". Looks like we all have to up our charm skills for this one then.   


What can you say about the Philippines?
"The Philippines reminds me of Korean food because of its  variety of colors and flavors. the country is filled with very friendly people and what differentiates them from the rest is they are a community that helps each other out."

If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?

"I studied sociology back in college, which is about studying people. I incorporate this into my craft I see myself as a sociologist with a camera."

You were featured in DigitalRev on Youtube, Can you tell us about the experience?
"I was surprised when I got the invite. When I got it, I thought to myself, “Yes! I made it!”
Eric Kim and Kai Man Wong in an episode of DigitalRev
because they wanted me in their show."

"The guys in DigitalRev are all genuine. Lok is Lok, Alamby is always such a sweetheart and Kai is just a great person. On stage he is energetic and funny and off stage he is a humble person. We still keep in contact whenever I visit Hong Kong."

Favorite Philippine food
"Krispy Pata, Lechon, Pork Sisig!"

Camera Settings
"I do shoot in Raw in P mode, center point. The definition of a pro photographer is not whether he shoots in full manual of not.”

"I like to shoot manual with the 27mm. I love Fuji’s pancake lenses."

Worst Experience
"There was one time when I got in trouble shooting in a racetrack in Japan, I was brought in to this room and was interrogated by Japanese security thinking  that I may be a North Korean spy (laughs)."

More on Eric Kim at

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting Over Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Gear Acquisition Syndrome can be a Photographer's Dream Turned Nightmare

Gear Acquisition Syndrome, GAS
Before getting into Gear Acquisition Syndrome, lets talk about the process of acquiring gear. To many of us, the art of acquiring camera gear is a balance between need, resources and proper justification. Some of us can easily justify the purchase of new gear because to them, it is their bread and butter. But to many enthusiasts whose photography isn't the deciding factor of whether they have a meal at the end of the day justification can be just a wee little bit harder to come by.

I've been approached by many hobbyists from stamp collectors to BMX enthusiasts who all mention that photography is an expensive hobby.  Expensive, of course  is a relative term. While I believe that sometimes, photography, (The gear especially), can sometimes cost an arm and a leg to obtain, truth be told, you don't have to purchase the newest camera in the market to get great shots anywhere you go. 

I am just one of a bajillion people stating this fact. Some will testify to this, while others will go on a violent rampage defending their newly purchased D800s and 5D Mark IIIs and whatsoever as the be all and end all, but to each, his own. 

Travelling is a good companion of any shutterbug. Nothing broadens ones horizon on opening more picture perfect moments than ones own legs (a car, a bus or a plane ride wouldn't hurt either). To many, travelling has become the quintessential  justification for many of us to purchase new gear. 

Purchasing new gear for a trip is beyond anything that you will call wrong so long as it is justifiable. I myself have justified getting gear because of upcoming trips, some faired well, and some were mere excuses to give in to gear lust. There is a thin line between investing for practicality and Gear Aquisition Syndrome. 

Gear Acquisition Syndrome or GAS, is a term used by musicians, artists and photographers to describe ones urge to acquire,  accumulate, or stock up on gear. a serious case of GAS can be damaging not only to photographers, but to their art in general.

Think Practical 

Dont let your photography get in the way of the experience. Personally, when going on a trip, the experience should be first priority, and the documentation the second. Yes, if budget permits, you can go along that said trip and buy all the lenses and cameras your unlimited credit limit can buy. But think of lugging all that gear around, and you may be too into taking the perfect shot of your trip, that you totally miss the event first hand. 

In one of my latest trips out of the country, I settled for bringing a decent point and shoot camera that provided me with a decent focal length, a fast enough lens and of course, portability. Had I gone with a bulky camera plus battery grip and a ton of lenses, it would have put more burden on the trip by making the photography get in the way of the experience.  

Below are a ways of getting over GAS.

Act Your Wage

act your wage
There are a lot of high-end cameras that would have been a lot more ideal to my choice camera, but given the price factor, I just couldn't bring myself to justify the purchase. If I crapped out golden eggs after breakfast everyday this would be a different story. But in reality, I'm stuck on a budget driven from how much I can spend after working eight-to-five, five days a week. 

This budget, reflects my choice of gear. I have a decent camera to shoot with while still affording to eat three times a day as compared to being a hobo with a Leica.

Beware of Gear Envy

"Pride, envy, avarice - these are the sparks have set on fire the hearts of all men."    - Dante Alighier

gear envy

Envy is one of the catholic church's seven deadly sins and is the main symptom leading to to Gear Acquisition Syndrome. You go out, bring your shiny new camera, proud of your investment and probably nearly breaking the bank for, only to see the guy on the other end sporting the same one but with with a slightly longer extension number on his camera's model name. 

How deep does envy go? According to Dante Alighieri, there is a circle of hell dedicated to these people, and Envy takes on the innermost one.  

Beware the Friends You Keep

power ranger funny
Uhhmmm no...
GAS is an infectious disease and can be transmitted through word of mouth, eye-envy and even the chatter of the keyboard. Growing up in the 90s I had a particular fondness to Power Rangers action figures. I got all five of them, the red, blue, white, pink and yellow ranger. Suddenly, this kid shows up with the new green ranger and all I could think about was having that (To the point of trading all five of mine). When I finally for the green ranger, with his shiny, golden dragonball-esque armor, That same kid shows up with the new white ranger (They're the same guy)! And so the cycle continues. 

The same can be said with cameras. Hanging out with friends that worship gear will eventually lead you down the dark path of GAS. Your brand new camera and gear ages faster when you are with these people because all you talk about are the things you don't have instead of appreciating what you do. 

Weigh Alternatives

There is always a cheaper alternative. Lots of gear today have third party developers that offer a cheaper counterpart to the original manufacturer. (There is a difference between third party developers and say, something made in China). Of course, with a lower price, comes a few quirks, but if you can live with those quirks, or wont affect you too much, then it could be considered as a viable alternative.

Second Opinion

Like any diagnosis, sleep on it, and ask someone for their opinion on your decision to purchase something. (a girlfriend would be handy in this one).

Don't Surf for Justifications

“ [The] variety of opinions being aired [online] can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.”                                              
                                                                                                                                                            - Pope Francis

Pope francis relaxThe internet is a marvellous invention that opened up a stream of information at the tip of our fingers. Many of you can no longer imagine a world not interwoven by information on anything from here to kingdom come (porn included). 

The problem though with this opened book of information is that we can now seek justification for our bias. This idea, came from no other than the Pope himself, warning against the effects of echo chambering. 

The Pope is surely right on on this one. I myself have been guilty of surfing the net to justify possible GAS. Not sure if you are echo chambering? check your search queries. If it starts with "Why I should buy xxx", you probably are. 

Make Due and Let Creativity Take Over

Funny Creativity

Instead of lusting for something that you don't have, why not try and appreciate what you do. Most of us don't take enough time and effort to appreciate the capabilities of the gear that we currently own. Get to know your gear, understand what it can do for you and what it cannot. From there, fill in the gap with with what you can afford. You'd be surprised at what creative means can spur out of ones head when given limitations. 

A physiology student once mentioned to me a study about people's intelligence correlating to their social status, in which he mentioned that people growing up in a lower status, tend to have a higher creativity than those growing up with a silver spoon in their mouth. The reason behind it was because given the limitations, these people had to find ways to make ends meet, as opposed to those who could just afford to by a bridge to close the gap. 

Making due with what you have doesn't hinder you as an artist, It challenges you to think outside the box.

Understand the Law of Obsolete 

Funny technology
Sad story
The law of obsolete is crucial to understanding your GAS. Pet lovers know that most animals (other then tortoises, their awesome) age at a significantly faster pace then us humans. Take dogs for instance. Most owners believe that one human year equals roughly seven dog years. 

Technology is developing at such a rapid pace that it surpasses even dog years in age. Technology and production have become so streamlined that companies churn out new "updated" products in the market faster than the Brady Bunch family. 

Its become so fast, that the newest camera gear, will be deemed old by a matter of months. 

Understanding this trend, and not giving in to what manufacturer's deem as "new" is crucial resisting GAS. Something is obsolete only if you see it as obsolete. Remember that film cameras are still being used to this very day.

Obsolete is a state of mind. Be mindful also that the camera you have with you now, has more capabilities than the camera they brought to the moon. 

You Dont Need Newer Gear to Produce Better Photos

Mini Camera GAS
GAS in a minicam
This is pretty much a staple to all articles about GAS so I just had to put this obligatory tip right here. Newer gear does not make better photos. 

Sure you get better capabilities, more features, more bells and whistles. But without the proper development of skill, your just a teenage kid carrying an AK 47, sprayin and prayin. 

Have a GAS Allowance

Gear Aquisition Syndrome Allowance
Gas... Literally

To many of us gear junkies, GAS may not always be avoidable. In these cases, stick to a budget called a GAS allowance. Set aside a portion of what you make for gear and stick to it. 

When you find something shiny and is within your allowance, feel free to buy it, knowing full well that you aren't breaking the bank. 

Practicality is key to maximize gear. But every once in the while, it doesn't hurt to buy an ice cream sunday. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Point and Shoot reaches 5,000 Views

Point and Shoot blog reaches 5,000 views today. 

5,000 views in a blog is hardly an event worth mentioning for many of the other established blogging names out there. But for this blog that began as a humble bleep online last April of 2014, has grown to amass a small following of readers from around the globe.   

In all honesty, Point and Shoot began with a small vision: to continuously inspire the writer of this blog to shoot pictures (primarily justifying the purchase of his new camera). This blog became that writer's reason to shoot. 

A few articles and thousands of pictures later, Point and Shoot is up and running as one of newest photoblogs in the country. From a humble bleep, we have now become a noticeable speck in the internet world... Not bad for a blog that began because of a bad case of insomnia.

To the readers, thank you for the support, and the time you have spent reading, looking at, and digesting our continuous churns of pictures and words. 

Heres to you!

See you at 10,000.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

The X Comes Home: Xyza Cruz Bacani’s Cinderella Tale With a Digital Twist

Fujifilm brings Xyza Bacani home to tell her Cinderella Tale

Xyza Bacani philippines
Armed with just her Cat-eared headband and a shiny new camera,
Xyza Bacani shares her vision of photography
Cinderella is a timeless story first published by Charles Perrault in 1697 about a girl down on her luck, but with the flick of a magic wand has been given the opportunity to turn her life around overnight. (If you’re a fan of the Disney version, this included the aid of talking mice and a giant kalabasa).  

Today, Cinderella has become an archetype name for someone unrecognized and unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity or neglect. 

Fast forward to 2014. In a world a lot smaller because of technology, many seem to question if the validity of the Cinderella tale as something possible a good 300 years later.

Enter Xyza Cruz Bacani, a Filipino who has been working in Hong Kong as a domestic helper and has recently been recognized for her passion and talent in photography. Her Cinderella story is one that can be told with a modern digital twist. 

Emerging from mere obscurity, it seems that Xyza has grown to become a celebrity  in the photography world overnight. With her street photography  being featured in the likes of Vogue and The New York Times, and eventually landing in the local news, one could not help but see a Cinderella story in the making. But behind the overnight success, lies years of hard work and perseverance.

With hard work, dedication and sheer love for her craft, Xyza Bacani achieved the fairy tale dream. Instead of glass slippers she has a shiny new camera, and for her ball, a precious spot at the New York Times.  

Her fairy Godmother though, came in the form of social media-connecting her to the world, the insurmountable support of photographers such as Ric Rocamora, Jonathan Van Smith and Gary Tyson, and  photo and imaging giant Fujifilm, offering her the pumpkin ride back to her hometown today to fuel photographers with her inspiring story. 

The event brought photographers up close and personal to the Xyza Bacani story. Wearing her cat-eared tiara and standing in front of a crowd of shutterbugs and fans, she shared her photographic vision in her own words.


Xyza Bacani Photos
Street Photography by Xyza Bacani
As with any person practicing the craft of photography, creativity is the sugar that is stirred into the coffee. Some want diabetes-inducing sweetness, while others prefer the more bitter taste. For Xyza, it is something she seeks when she shoots.

“I hate routine but of course as a helper, I can’t avoid it” 

Her day job entails taking care of 6 kids, which she enjoys every moment of. But when work becomes routine, she finds ways to exercise her creativity. 

Despite her day job, she always makes time for photography, taking at least one picture a day.     


Xyza Bacani Philippines
"The more you work hard, the luckier you get"
Many people who have heard of the Xyza Bacani story online will say that she has been blessed with luck. But for her, its not just luck, but also having to work hard. In her own simple words, “The more you work hard, the luckier you get.”

Xyza's hard work and dedication came in many variants, from finding time to shoot, to nitpicking every photo. 

When working on her photography, she mentioned  having to trim off around 50,000 shots into 600 photos for her portfolio. Any photographer would testify on the difficulty of letting go of one shot shot you love, now try 49,400 of them.

“We have this Pwede na yan (that will do) Attitude”

thatll do pig babe
"That'll do That'll do"
There are many Filipinos who have helped elevate the country to its present stature through sheer will and determination. But there are also many more of us stuck in the plateau that is mediocrity.  Whether we choose to accept it or not, the pwede na yan (that will do) attitude remains a mainstay in the average Filipino persona.  For Xyza, if you want to make it big, you'll have to let kick this habit.   

For Xyza, it is hard work and perseverance to get the best shots that brought her talents to the limelight. The recognition she has for her photography today would have never seen the light of day, had she not been religiously shooting and posting online and on her blog, and trying her luck at photo contests. 


Xyza Bacani Philippines
"In photography, we all speak the same language."
Of all the insights she shared, Xyza Bacani's most unique view would be on the importance of friendship in developing as a photographer. 

Though we mostly learn and improve by having that camera in front of our face half of the time, the other half is spent learning through interaction. Xyza puts emphasis communicating by not looking down on others, especially newcomers, to photography.
You have to admit that many of us, have experienced talking to (and to some, actually being!) photo snobs. These social hipsters contribute nothing to the photography world whatsoever, seeing themselves too far-off from anyone to touch, with their self-admiration for their skills making them so thick-skinned, it could be used to make world class leather wallets (or world class chicharon).

Xyza Bacani's name is already well-recognized in our local photography community, but she recalls the days when she was starting out and was bashed by some groups because she didn’t know about this or that.  To her, this shouldn't be the case, as she mentioned, "In photography we all speak the same language, so why not be nice to newbies?"  

For all you know, one day, that newbie may be featured by the New York Times. (So suck it photo snobs of the world.)

For her, Friendship also plays a big role in Fujifilm's success, citing the imaging company's  photo group, XPPH (X-Photographers Philippines). Apart from her camera that she uses for her street photography, to her, "The best part of Fuji is the group that they created”.    

xyza bacani camera
"I've been chased by a Chinese person
who was trying to hit me with an umbrella."

On what inspires her to shoot
“I shoot for myself. I enjoy the process of taking photos more than the images.”

“When you shoot, empty the cup. Try not to shoot only based on someone else's photo because it may not be your vision anymore. You end up shooting their vision instead.”

When compared to Vivian Maier
“I believe the comparison is only based on our day job, when you look at our photography, you will see that the difference  is divided from east to west.”

Ever got into trouble when shooting street?
“I’ve been chased by a chinese person who was trying to hit me with her umbrella and an Indian guy tried to get my camera from me. If they don’t want their photo taken, I simply delete it because it is their right.”

When was your photography first noticed?
“The first time I was noticed was in a photo contest for National Geographic Hong Kong, where I got honorable mention. I've been joining other contests ever since.”

About shooting

“Enjoy the thing you do, even if it means nothing to anyone, Enjoy.”

You can learn more about Xyza Bacani and her photography at her blog,