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Why You Should Run Your Photography Business As If You Were Raising A Kid?



Being frugal now and then never hurts


No one ever talks about how they are saving for something better anymore. It's always about a certain sale or how they financed something without interest. People often see frugalness as being cheap but what they don't understand is, being cheap can also be associated with being dumb. On the other hand, being frugal is often a sign of a person being smart.


While I definitely don't agree that just by saving in itself will get you anywhere nowadays, you do need to save up for when that opportunity comes. In an earlier post, I talked about buying property or investing as being an essential part of your photography business. Now how are you gonna do that if your mom and dad ain't name Kim and Kanye.


Being frugal is all about sacrifices. Sacrificing means you aren't buying every single head tha's coming out from #arcaswiss or that new #iphone that has tons of new features that you will never use. It's about being practical. In return, what will you get? This is just a possibility, but you can perhaps save thousands of dollars, and buy into #alibaba (BABA) or #amazon (AMZN) or #apple (AAPL) next time the markets plunges and watch your money grow. It takes a long time to make a 100K in photography. I don't care who you are and how well you shoot. Making a 100k in profit requires a lot of sweat. While it's not definite but I can easily see someone doubling that buying into property or stocks in 2-3 years time.


If you think about it how is it that so many immigrants that grew up in the west, excel so well? Being one myself, I never got a pair of #nike shoes with air, or did I ever get pair of #levisstrauss that had a red tab (for those that are unaware, orange tab #levis were those that had defects and often found at cheap discount stores or outlets, which I lived off of for the most of my life.) . Second generation immigrants excel well because they understand that if you don't have money, you need to work hard, save hard, and buy in the moment that great opportunity comes to change your life. You can't buy in on that opportunity if you are enjoying that #caramelfrappuccino every morning or driving that #bmw that needs that premium coat of wax weekly when you can take public transit. It sucks but everything has a price, and tell your kids that. Better yet, tell yourself that when you wanna replace your trusty tripod for a #reallyrightstuff because it's a two three pound lighter and everyone is getting one.


Always start your teenage driver with a second hand car


An uncle that was like a father to me, taught me the most important lesson in my life. Back when I was sixteen. He had asked...


"Joe, I see you are getting your learner's permit? What kinda car do you want?"


I replied


"I want a Mercedes or a BMW."


Not really realizing how much that will cost my parents. My uncle then said...


"A new car eh? If I were you I would get a relatively reliable secondhand car. Your uncle has been through the ups and downs in life and I can tell you if you start off with a piece of junk you will appreciate everything else you earn in your life. Come the day if bad luck dawns of you and you fall into bad times, not only will you get through the fact you need to drive a "shitbox" but you will recover faster than anyone else, because you have been through it."


Being a bit confused and a bit of punk (who wasn't at 16), I replied with a "whatever," but I didn't realise that what this uncle was advising would be a life lesson that no Ivy League school could ever teach.





Even if you had the money in the world you never buy your kid a #porsche when he/she is 16. You will destroy them. Someone without the skill and experience cannot handle the power. A friend of mine died in a fatal car accident in 90s because his parents thought it was a good idea to give their son a flashy #mitsubishi eclipse.


In a previous post, I mentioned that my assistant wanted a $6000 #fujigfx100 . Recently I gave him to opportunity to shoot for a client and show off his stuff. After the first couple of exposures, I had realised he didn't even know how to level the camera properly and I actually had to finish the shoot myself because it was clear he was not there yet to pull it off on his own.


Having the crappiest equipment starting off is not only a frugal way of saving a penny or two, but it also makes you understand why you need something better and how you can use something that is more expensive and more importantly more sophisticated to improve your work.


Photography is a lifetime commitment to learning. Like class, stay focus and goal oriented


I was a bright and witty kid in class, but often distracted and never thought to think far enough to plan for something more concrete. Photography ain't a skill where you can learn and once you consider yourself to "know how to shoot," that you are set.


Let's face it. It's tech based and it will require constant reading up and testing with new technique and equipment throughout the years. Every great photographer I have met is always hungry, hungry for knowledge. Every terrible photographer I have met, thinks they know how to shoot and that they don't need to learn more. If your kid thinks education ends after college they may as well work for the #uspostalservice (no offense to anyone that is hard working and wanna work as civil servant, if there are any).


Staying focus is important as well. For the longest time in my photography career, I took up jobs that required me to shoot events, weddings, you name it and I probably shot it. Mind you with some of the genres, I was shit at it, but it got me a pay cheque. I was desperate to make a career out of my passion but what I didn't understand back then was you can't succeed without specialising in something. No one wants to hire and pay good money to an #architecturalphotographer that is shooting some kid's birthday at a #chuckecheese or worse, work at a Chuck E Cheese.


Things change and that is why we need to plan. In China, there is a saying. When chopping firewood on a good day, you chop extra for rainy days. You never know what is gonna happen 10 years down the road. This is not only for your photography business but life in general. Like being frugal, preparing for the worst will never hurt. If your #realestatephotography is working well now, take the time and plan for what you think may become of your industry in 10 years. Make goals that are challenging but yet possible. You need to be on your toes. You can only be if you have some sort of a motivation.


Tell your kids that failure is an asset, it's only a loss or liability if you don't learn from it



One of the biggest killers of photographers is their ego. I have seen so many including my former self that made such a big deal when they were criticised or worse when a project failed. Not everyone is going to love your idea or work. If people are being reasonable, listen and learn. It's ok things didn't work out this time, just be smart the next. #stevejobs was fired from his own company. #jackma was fired from #kfc. I am sure the people I just mentioned must felt disappointed and a sense of failure at a certain time in their lives, but they never stopped trying and most importantly they learned from their mistakes.


Be honest but be confident in yourself. No one likes a liar or a cheat. There are no free lunches in this world


One of the greatest lesson my dad gave me was to be honest. Sure, I tell a fib from now and then, but I never lie to cheat. Even if you get something out of it, it will never last because you don't deserve. Not only should you be honest to others, but be honest to yourself.


Compare your work to that of other photographers. If it sucks, admit and see what is it in their work that you think is so great. You can't charge people tons of money without providing sufficient quality. There are only two kinds of customers in photography. Those that believe you cost significantly less that others and those that think you perform significantly better than others. There are no free lunches. You work in a commercial environment. The only people that will pay you to shoot for them even though you are crap is your mom and dad or that rich uncle Ronny that has no kids and want you to help with his burial one day. But even those people can't keep you out of the red.


You will never find success trying to be someone else. You need to be the person people want to become


It's ironic, but as commercial as photography can be, you need to have your own individual style and uniqueness. You can never be successful trying to imitate others, just look at #lexus . In the 90s, when #apple was failing miserably, they didn't look at the ever popular #pc and say hey we should be more like them (actually they may have during the lost years without the almighty Steve Jobs), and thank God if not we'd be without our trusted #macos . Be inspired by people that make you passionate but don't copy, borrow. I love the work #mikekelley produces but if I just try to mimic him I will always be that cheap discounted version people go to when they can't afford him.


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