Eric Kim Allowing High-Res Downloads of His Work for Free, Going ‘Open Source’


Street photographer Eric Kim has always believed in the value of ‘open source.’ Usually a term reserved for software and code, open source is a development model that promotes free public access and redistribution rights for a product.

Much of what Kim has put out into the world — be they videos or ebooks — he’s made available in the same way: use, alter and share as you’d like. And now, he’s adding his photos to the list of things the public has almost unlimited access to.


He made the announcement in a recent blog post, in which he explains a few of the reasons behind his draw to the open source community, and how he’s tried to embody that community’s principles in his own work. Part of that involves being willing to share much of what he creates for free:

I want to reiterate the fact that I will never charge anything on the blog in terms of information. I will make sure that anything information-based (articles, videos, features, etc) will always be available openly and for free on the blog.

I also wanted to announce that I have recently made all of my photos on Flickr available for free as full-resolution downloads. So if you have ever liked any of my photos and wanted a print, feel free to download any photo and print any sized photo you want. Use it as wallpapers, prints to hang on your wall, or whatever you want to use them for (non commercial). And no, you don’t need my permission.


Kim grew up in the lower socio-economic class in America, with his mom holding down three part-time jobs to put him and his sister through school. He made it through college thanks to a combination of Government grants and a subsidized work-study program, and he credits “countless mentors” who gave selflessly of their time with helping him become the person he is today.

It’s because of this that he feels he has “a moral and societal obligation to give back to the community.” And for him, that obligation means he’ll never charge more for his work and time than it takes for him to make a living.


In his own words, he never wants to become “a blood-thirsty capitalist/vampire trying to suck profits out of the street photography community.” And if he does, well, he gives you permission to “stab a wooden stake through my heart and bust out the garlic.”

My Vision of Open Source Photography (Volume 2) [Eric Kim Street Photography]

Image credits: Photographs by Eric Kim.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Neil!

  • Antonio Carrasco

    I would…

  • Berati Sofianna

    It’s because at first he was carefully choosing what to show as he had no other avenue to promote himself than his photos. Later he started doing his workshops so he wasn’t solely dependent on his photos, so he stated showing everything he snapped.

  • Don Tusk

    Eric Kim International big mouth street photographer

  • Actually, no, you’re wrong inc

    These are literally terrible, and I personally GUARANTEE that ANYONE could take pictures this bad without even trying, maybe even a little worse with just a little bit of effort!

  • Actually, no, you’re wrong inc

    Okay, give me $8000 of gear like he has and I will.

    Actually, just give me an iPhone.

  • Actually, no, you’re wrong inc


  • Actually, no, you’re wrong inc

    Cool story, bro. Since you’re actually his friend, maybe you can commend him in person instead of impersonally on the internet.

    I am assuming you do actually know him.

  • Actually, no, you’re wrong inc

    Well, probably none, because these are terrible.

    Not Terry Richardson terrible, genuinely terrible. Terry could look down his nose at this guy, if he was a douche.

  • Actually, no, you’re wrong inc

    I think it’s telling that both of your posts received even upvotes. Truth.

  • Actually, no, you’re wrong inc

    Well he did something right, $8k kit right there “giving images away for free”. Cause he was already successful at something else, and no one with half a brain would buy these.

    It’d be like if windows 8 was free. But with more fail.

  • twocuteblogs

    Just simply trying to make a point. Alex is in a similar game to Eric. Running workshops, blogging, teaming up with sponsors etc. So I think a comparison is fair enough don’t you? Just find it a little sad that Eric is getting so much flak for giving away his images for free, when others are charging just to see their images – which, I hasten to add, are still just in electronic form.

    and thanks for providing a link to your work.

  • Reactivestills

    Lee Jeffries – Best street photographer at the moment

  • John Goldsmith

    Giving away one’s images for free is only the tip of the iceberg. The issue Eric Kim should be concerned about is not money. It’s something else.

    When you give away your work for free it suggests you don’t value your wor. If the artist doesn’t value their work, why should anyone else? For example, why should I take a workshop from Eric? By his actions alone, whether this is a stunt or not, I’ve learned so much about his photography without looking again at even one at his photos. That is: Eric Kim does not know how to make a good photograph.

    Of course there are reasons one might create and give away their artwork freely. Say, if publishing the images under a dictatorship where recognition would come by penalty of death. There are also altruistic reasons. However, if that were the case, Eric shouldn’t charge any money whatsoever, including for his workshops. The homeless might even register for the free coffee, donuts, or other freebies. The last reason I struggle to come up with is to make a statement, like Banksy or perhaps a gang member tagging a wall. If that’s the case, again, Eric might consider a new career. Instead of photography, he might choose activism: Save the Whales, or something. Perhaps the impoverished children of “Africa” could use more pictures. That helps, right?

    Above all, what this move does is devalue Eric’s artwork, whether it’s prized or otherwise. Putting artwork out there, for free, doesn’t just mean losing income. It’s worse. It means that Eric will likely lose opportunities with other exciting creative possibilities such as publishers, galleries, magazines, or even some competitions who seek to present unpublished work. It means that really cool creative expressions will be closed off because his work is too available and already seen or, maybe, that is the hope.

    It’s not the money, stupid. It’s the opportunities. It’s the risk of devaluing your work by closing off so many possible doors to other exciting and currently unforeseen possibilities that inspire one to continue creating.

    The issue Eric Kim will contend with is one of credibility.

  • faloc

    I used to do that too, but now I keep it all Copyrighted

  • faloc


  • DB

    The term open source is being misused here. Giving away your photos for free is not the same as open source. Open source means you are giving free license to distribute as your own for commercial or non-commercial use. So… if someone used his photo, modified it, and then sold it to a commercial entity, Eric could get sued if the person in the photo did not give model release consent for commercial use.

    I think there might be some sensationalism going on when you claim open source but are not. This is just saying you are giving it away for free download, right? Can I see the open source license that is being given away?

    Also, isn’t it arrogant of him or you to pronounce that this Eric Kim is giving his photos away for free? He’s not Gilden or Arthur Miller giving free copyright. This is Eric Kim. You need to get your memory banks organized.

  • ton of bs

    You need to study the new Orphan Works Bill that is trying to get passed. This happens every day all over the world. If you shoot you need to register your copyright and slap a symbol on your images period.

  • Joshua Evan

    I believe is mother bought the Leica for him.

  • Thomas Casey

    His pictures are worthless.