I once read the proverb— “If you give a man a fish, you can feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he can feed himself for a lifetime.”
The point of this guide is to share with you everything I personally know and have learned about teaching photography workshops for a living.
Chapter 1: Why teach photography?
In today’s world, there are a billion photographers. And that number will still keep growing.
The downside is that the market for professional photographers is dying off. In the past, it was difficult to learn how to shoot professional photography. Now with the lower cost of high-end digital cameras, automated technical settings, and access to the internet— any college student can easily shoot “professional” photos (that are actually quite good). The market is (unfortunately) dying for lower-to-mid-end professional photography (commercial, portraiture, and wedding). I still think the high-end professional photographers will do really well, but if you’re a “general” professional photographer, your future prospects will be quite grim.
However the benefit that “everyone is a photographer” now — is that there is a huge market for teaching photography. Everyone wants to learn photography. And now with access to Google, there are billions of people wanting to learn how to make better photos, build their confidence in making photos, and how to find more personal meaning with their photography.
My personal story
I fell into teaching photography workshops for a living by chance.
To start off, I’ve always had a passion for teaching. I remember ever since I was young, I had a hard time learning. I was a mostly visual learner, and wasn’t good with abstract ideas. Everything I learned had to be self-taught. I never understood what my teachers were trying to teach me.
Therefore I knew the personal difficulty of learning. I tried to keep things simple, not to over-complicate things. I felt that my personal difficulty of learning from a young age, helped me to better teach in simple language. Oh yeah, and I think I had mild dyslexia growing up (I think I learned this in my mid twenties).
Empowering others through teaching
I also found out that I came from a long background of teachers. My mom taught physics as a high school teacher in Korea. Many of my uncles and grandparents taught at the university-level. Perhaps teaching is in my genes.
Anyways, I always loved teaching— because of the empowerment it gave to those I taught. The best feeling is trying to teach a difficult concept to someone, and then you see it in their eyes— “click” — they get it, and the concept sticks.
This is the same joy I get from teaching photography. When you teach someone something about photography, and they just “get it.”
I personally find my passion in teaching street photography workshops — even more specifically, helping people overcome their fear of shooting street photography. For me, teaching confidence is something you can teach. And overcoming your fears is also something you can teach. And it is something that can help people (not only in photography) but in all forms of their life — whether personal, whether work-related, or emotional.
Building your teaching skills
First of all, before you decide to teach for a living, you need to learn skills how to teach.
For me, I taught myself how to teach ever since I was in middle-school/high-school. I often tutored my friends, and even tutored part-time as a high-schooler, to make some extra cash.
To be an effective teacher is all about getting feedback. Often the feedback is non-verbal.
For example, if you’re trying to teach someone something in real-life, you look at their expression in their face whether they understand or not. The worst thing you can ask a student is, “Do you understand it?” — because they will always nod their head, because they are afraid of looking stupid. Therefore, it is important that you communicate and teach in the simplest way possible, and also have a safe environment to allow for students to admit that they “don’t get it”, or that they need a little bit of help.
A practical tip: instead of asking, “Do you understand?” you can say something like, “Can you tell me which parts you are still having a difficult time understanding? Or, “Can you tell me which concepts are a little bit unclear or fuzzy to you?” This way — you frame the question from: “Do you get it, yes or no?” to asking: “Tell me which parts you don’t understand.”
I feel as a teacher, we should generally assume that the students don’t understand what we’re trying to teach them 100%. Therefore to always slow down, and give them a safe space to share their insecurities or what they don’t know.
“Facilitating”, not “teaching”
When I was a college student at UCLA, I taught a 1-unit seminar titled: “The Sociology of Facebook and Online Social Networks.” Cindy encouraged me to apply for this special “USIE” program (undergraduate student initiated education, or something like that) — which allowed juniors/seniors to teach a 10-week university-level course.
Before teaching the course, we enrolled in an honors “pedagogy course” (pedagogy being— learning how to teach).
The biggest takeaway I got from this pedagogy course is philosophical. The idea is that you aren’t “teaching” — rather, you are “facilitating” the students for self-learning.
A “teacher” is someone who lectures for 2 hours straight, and expects you to intake all the information. The idea is the teacher is the center of knowledge and power, and the students are just the peons, consuming the wisdom from the teacher.
However the “facilitator” model assumes that the student already knows what they need to know (in their own brain). Your job as a ‘facilitator’ is to unlock their own mind. You ‘facilitate’ their self-learning. Therefore it isn’t telling them what is best for them, but helping them discover (on their own) what is best for them.
So when it comes to “teaching” photography— you aren’t really teaching them anything. You’re rather giving ideas, suggestions and helping guide your students. You spend more time listening to their needs, wants, and challenges— and trying to give them customized (bespoke) ideas on how to help them become the best version of themselves.
Anyone can be a teacher
Okay, teaching philosophies behind— I am going to continue to use the term “teaching” (you can assume I’m talking about ‘facilitating’).
Anyways, a lot of people are not confident in their skills, and think that they can’t teach.
I think anyone can be a teacher. The secret is finding how to teach according to your own style.
For example, some of us prefer to teach in smaller groups. Other people prefer to teach in larger groups. Some people like to teach by example, and others like to teach with words, or text.
If you have a passion for photography, and you want to share that passion with others— you are a teacher.
Chapter 2: How to build a following
Okay, let’s say you have a passion for teaching. But one of the most difficult parts of teaching photography workshops is getting students. So in this chapter, I will share some thoughts on how to find students, how to build trust, and have people sign up for your workshops.
The one thing you need to build is a sense of trust. Trust is the universal human emotion which binds all of us together.
Trust is what holds families together. Trust is what makes commerce and trade possible. Trust is what allows a bank to loan money to an individual. Trust is the cement which holds together friendships.
If you want to teach a photography workshop and have people spend money to attend, you need to build up trust with your audience.
And you cannot build trust overnight. Think about it — how long did it take you before you trusted your friends, or those who you are really close to?
Nowadays, we think of big “brands” that we trust— like Nike, Apple, Tesla, and BMW.
A “brand” isn’t a company. A “brand” is a concept we have in our minds— and we trust brands. So essentially, you can replace the word “brand” with “trust.”
I “trust” certain brands, because I believe they are superior. For example, if I have a really bad headache, and I really want to cure my headache— I will spend $5 on Tylenol instead of $2 on the generic product (even though it is the same ingredients). The irrational human in me thinks that the Tylenol will help alleviate my headache. And the power of a brand is so powerful is that I will fall victim to the “placebo effect” — that indeed, if I think the Tylenol is superior than the generic, I will actually feel better.
Brands aren’t built overnight. They are built over years, over decades, and sometimes even centuries.
Nike took several decades before it built the cult-like following it has. The same with Apple, Louie-Vuitton, and all these other desirable brands.
So if you want to teach photography workshops for a living, you need to build up your personal brand— or a sense of trust with your audience.
How to build trust
One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you’re just very good at advertising and marketing, people will easily be suckered into paying money for whatever you offer.
Wrong. You need to build up your presence, and your own personal legitimacy.
How to build an online presence
Google rules the world. It is the #1 used website in the world. Whenever people are trying to search for anything, they will use Google.
Therefore for the purposes of this guide, I will focus on building your online presence. I don’t know how to really build an offline presence. There are the basics— you can become popular in your local community by giving free talks, by networking, and showing up at local photography events.
However I feel that by limiting yourself to the local area — you are limiting yourself.
For me, I use the analogy of “crop rotation.” If you keep trying to harvest fruit from the same plot of land, you will eventually run out of minerals. You need to let certain ground run “fallow” — let it replenish itself. You need to visit other places to teach (different cities in your own country, and even internationally).
For example, if I kept trying to teach photography workshops in LA, people would eventually stop attending. Because there is a certain point where a student won’t keep signing up for my workshop.
And to be honest— your purpose of a teacher is to have your students not attend multiple workshops.
Why? The purpose of teaching a workshop is to give your students the tools they need to guide themselves in their photography. You do not want your students dependent upon you.
In the early days of Google, they judged their own success by how little time people spent on their site. Which means, if a person was searching for something online, the less time they spent on Google— it meant they found what they needed to find. So they wouldn’t need to go back to Google to keep searching.
You don’t want your students to become dependent on you. Like a good parent, you want to teach them the skills they need to succeed on their own. Like the analogy we used earlier on, you don’t want to keep giving them fish to feed themselves. You need to teach them how to fish themselves.
Anyways going back to the point at hand, I feel it is desirable to build an international presence. And the best way to build an international presence is to use the internet.
Build a blog
I feel one of the best ways to build an online presence is to build a blog. Not to be a slave to social media platforms. Why? Because if you build a blog, it will be easy for people to find you on Google. If you only build a social media platform, you severely restrict the ability for people to find you online.
In the beginning, I got too caught up in the social media hype. I thought if I could get enough social media followers, I would become successful.
And as I did become more popular, I misattributed my success and popularity to social media. In reality, 99% of people found me through Google, or YouTube (another Google product).
The benefit of building a blog is that it is an open platform. Anyone can access your blog. It doesn’t matter if they have a Mac, a PC, an iPhone, or an Android smartphone. Whereas if you build a social media following, what if someone doesn’t have that social media app? Then they can’t access you.
But isn’t blogging dead?
Blogging has been around for a long time. And it will continue to exist for a long time.
The unfortunate thing is that a lot fewer people blog today than in the past. Because it is hard. It is much easier to upload photos and text to social media.
But if you share things on social media, you don’t own your own platform. Rather, you’re contributing to another platform. And you don’t build your own personal equity.
For me, the #1 most valuable asset I have is my blog. Because my blog is in my control. I pay the server fees (around $60 a month), I own my own domain name, I can upload files to it, share them easily, and I am easily discoverable on Google.
Another analogy I can use is consider your website or blog as your tree trunk. I still recommend you to use social media— but social media are the branches, leading you back to your trunk.
If you want to build a strong tree, you want a strong trunk (foundation). You don’t want to build up strong branches.
How to build a blog
Honestly, if you want to really teach photography workshops for a living, or perhaps make a different living through your photography — there are going to be some startup costs. But these costs are a lot lower than you’d imagine.
To start off, I recommend starting your own website/blog. That means registering a domain name (www.yourfirstnamelastname.com), and paying money for your website.
A quick rule: to know whether you’re building your personal equity or not, consider whether you’re paying for your service or not. If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.
I recommend signing up for bluehost.com to build your website or blog. I personally use 1and1.com— but I don’t really like them. Unfortunately at this point, I’m trapped on their server, because migrating all my information to another platform would be too much work.
After you signup for bluehost.com (or any other website), I’d recommend installing wordpress.org on your website.
What is WordPress? WordPress is an open-source platform for building your website and blog. I read some random statistic that over 50% of the internet is currently powered by WordPress.
What is the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com?
- WordPress.org is an open-source and free platform for you to host your content. You will download the wordpress.org “framework” and self-host it on your website. This is what you want.
- WordPress.com is a paid service, good for hobbyists or people starting off. This is free for anyone to register, but there will be advertisements on your website (not desirable). Also if you sign up for the free service, you will not be able to have your own website “domain” (www.yourfirstnamelastname.com). Instead, they will give you a “free” domain (yourfirstnamelastname.wordpress.com) — which doesn’t look as professional.
Assuming you use bluehost.com, there is a function that allows you easily install wordpress.org (directly from their site). Setup should be an ease. If you have any issues, you can just Google how to install it (you can search: “How to install WordPress on Bluehost”) or something like that.
Customizing your website/blog
When you register your website or blog, I recommend choosing a simple URL (website address) for yourself.
For example, don’t make a website like:
I’d rather recommend:
And if that domain isn’t available, do something like:
jeremysmithphoto.com or jeremysmithphotography.com
It is better to brand your name. Be a Calvin Klein, a Hugo Boss, or a Louie Vuitton. People remember names instead of these obscure cheesy-sounding brand names.
How do I get started blogging?
Okay, the reason you want to start blogging is because the more “content” (blog posts/articles) you have on your website, the more likely Google will rank you higher. And also the more often you update your website (the more often you upload blog posts), the higher Google will rank you.
Honestly, don’t over-think blogging. The great thing about blogging is that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
To be honest, focus on quantity over quality when you start off in blogging.
As an experiment, try to blog everyday for 30 days straight. It can be anything. Just upload 1 photo a day to your blog. Upload 1 inspirational photo quote to your blog a day. Or write 1 article a day, anything relating to your photography.
– Interview another photographer
– Share a famous photograph, and analyze it
– Share a compositional tip
– Share the story behind some of your favorite photos
– Review your camera
– Review your travel photography experiences
The more you produce as a blogger the more likely you are to hit a home-run. Every time you upload a blog post, it is like you are swinging your bat. And the more you swing your bat, the more likely you are to hit a home run.
How do I get people to find my blog?
When you’re starting off, nobody will know who you are. For me, I blogged almost daily for a year before anyone found out who I was. And honestly, it took me 6 years of consistent blogging before I became “internet famous.”
A good strategy to have people find your blog “organically” (without paying for internet advertising) is to interview other photographers. Find a photographer who inspires you, and interview them via video, via email, or maybe even in-person. And then publish an interview with them, posting their images, and transcribing the interview. Then when you publish their interview, the photographer will share that interview with their friends. That is a great way to get started.
Another idea: do “guest blog posts” for other more popular photography websites. Photography websites are always hungry for more “content” — and if you offer to write a free guest blog post for them, who would say no? The secret is to put your heart and soul into these guest blog posts — because if it is really good, you can link back to your own website/blog — and build up a following this way.
Another strategy: remember the saying “content is king.” Content relates to anything relating to information, blog posts, articles, videos, ebooks, etc. Essentially you want to create the most useful, valuable, practical information that will empower your viewer/reader.
For me, when I started off in street photography, I was frustrated by the lack of information on the internet about how to shoot street photography. I saw a lot of great street photographs online, but nobody told me how they got the photos. Nobody shared their secrets. So I started my own blog as a way to discover the truth for myself.
Therefore I started to try to learn how to shoot street photography myself— and shared this information with others.
To be honest, I had no intention on doing photography full-time for a living, nor did I think it was possible to be a full-time blogger/photography workshop teacher. I started my blog as a hobby, and a passion— and it later morphed into my living.
But going back to what I was talking about, I started a street photography blog to fill in the gap on the internet. I tried to create the most useful, valuable, and practical street photography tips, advice, and information. And I was lucky. I had good timing (there were no other street photography websites on how to shoot street photography at the time), and a lot of luck. But I hustled my ass off, writing with my heart and soul, and also hitting the pavement as often as I could (to improve my own street photography).
Now this blog is one of the most popular street photography websites/blogs on the internet. I would factor the success of this blog to timing, luck, hard work, and perseverance. It took me nearly 6 years of blogging (2,000+ blog posts) before I hit #1 on Google for “street photography.”
So know that success will not be overnight. It might take you 1-2 years before you build a following. Or maybe 5-6 years. But if you blog daily for 5 years, how can you not succeed?
Social media vs blogging
I think it is still valuable to use social media as a supplement to get people to find your blog and website. Yet in terms of the focus, I would say focus 90% of your focus on blogging, and only 10% on social media.
The problem is most bloggers focus on the opposite. They focus 90% on social media, and only 10% on blogging.
But at the end of the day, your blogging content is the most valuable asset. So if you really want to build up your following, don’t waste time trying to “network” on social media. Rather, focus on creating. Focusing on building value. Get your hands dirty, and try to create as much as you can.
When in doubt, blog.
How to stay motivated in blogging
One of the hardest things as a blogger is to stay motivated.
But honestly, I think “motivation” is overrated.
Do you need to “motivate” yourself to eat everyday? To drink coffee everyday? To talk everyday? To shit everyday?
No. Whatever is essential to you, you will do it naturally.
Therefore don’t force yourself to blog all the time. And while I do think it is important to blog consistently when you’re staring off— you don’t necessarily need to blog everyday. You can blog 3x a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Or you can blog once a week. Or you can blog once a month. Whatever you do, just don’t die.
If you want to be a successful blogger, and build an online presence, you need to blog until you die. We are seeking longevity, not short-term success.
Some practical strategies to stay motivated in blogging:
1. Accept 80% “good enough”:
Perfection is the death of blogging. Write, blog, or create blog posts that are 80% ‘good enough’ in your eyes, and just hit publish.
2. Drink lots of coffee:
I’m sorry, but if you’re not a coffee drinker, please get started. For me, no coffee (or caffeine) = no blogging. Furthermore, I find cafe’s a great place to write, because of the creative environment. So if you want to blog consistently, drink coffee consistently, and visit as many coffee shops (or tea shops) as you can.
3. Disable distracting websites:
I always get the best blogging and writing done when I’m offline. And I have no self-control. Therefore I have website-blockers installed on my computer to prevent myself from getting distracted. Like Ulysses, I tied myself to the mast of the ship, and plugged my ears with wax, because I know I cannot personally resist the sounds of the sirens. I have “WasteNoTime” installed on my Safari web browser, which blocks distracting social media websites and blogs. You can install “StayFocusd” on Google Chrome. And if you really want to focus, turn off your wifi, or go to a coffee shop with no wifi. For really extreme measures, install “Freedom” to turn off your wifi for pre-allocated times. For example, you can turn off your wifi for 2 hours (and no matter how many times you restart your computer, it will stay offline). To stay focused means to kill distractions, not to “focus”.
4. Find inspiration from everything:
I find sources of inspiration for blogging everywhere. I find inspiration through reading philosophy books, by seeing inspirational interior architecture, by listening to rap music, by intense conversations I have with friends, by traveling, by being frustrated (often writing about what frustrates you is a good motivator). The secret is just to pay attention. That means not always looking at your smartphone. The next time you wait for the bus, don’t just take out your phone. Rather, stop, listen, and look around. Let your mind relax, that is the best way to get inspirational ideas. This is how to be imaginative, to be creative— to not constantly bombard yourself with external stimuli.
5. Write down your ideas:
For me, whenever I get an idea, I write it down. I usually write it down in Evernote on my laptop, or write it down in Evernote on my smartphone. I’ve found out the more ideas I have, the more likely I have something to write about.
For example, this a current list of ideas I have written down (for potential blog posts). I wrote these all down while reading “On the Shortness of Life” by Seneca. I find reading books (especially ancient philosophy) to be the greatest source for ideas:
- Don’t be afraid to offend others
- Don’t need to be humble
- How to tell stories in photography
- What is good for photographers?
- How to change the world with photography
- How to change yourself with photography
- How to be less depressed with photography
- Photograph what you want to see
- Build what you want to see
- Be a builder
- How to be a builder
- Avoid mimicking others
- How to Teach a Photography Workshop
- How to Make a Living Teaching Photography Workshops *** (BOOK?)
- How can I teach men to fish (to make a living what they love?)
- “Photography 101” (my 1 book?) *** — take bits and pieces from old blog posts, from old ebooks, etc? — combine and remix, and distill down!
- How to Be More Ambitious in Your Photography
- How to Be Less Ambitious in Your Photography
- How to Be Less Ambitious
- How to Focus on Action in Life
- How Would You Live Your Daily Life if You Were a Billionaire?
- How to Achieve Great Things in Your Life
- What is Your Real Purpose in Life?
- How to Break Yourself Free From the Shackles of Addiction
- How to Kill Desire
- How to Stand Up For Yourself
- What is Your Single Worthwhile Goal in Life?
- How to Use Your Time Properly
- What if You Lived to Be 120 Years Old?
- Don’t Delay Your Life
- Don’t Have Expectations in Life
- Don’t Delay Your Life
- How to Focus in Life
- How to Imagine ***
- How to be less busy
The idea-taking system I have is this: I write any random ideas I have in Evernote, or any simple text-editor, and whenever I think a certain idea is really good (I add ***) to it. This helps me filter some of my ideas.
Honestly, for me, every 50 ideas I write down, I might have 1 good idea.
I also feel that when it comes down to writing down ideas, use the simplest tool possible. It might be a piece of paper, your smartphone, or just a simple text editor.
At the moment, the best minimalist tools I use include:
- IA Writer (use this to write everything, this is what I’m currently using to write these lines)
- Notes (the default Mac app)
I use Evernote to sync my ideas between my smartphone and my laptop (I have an Android smartphone, but a MacBook laptop)
I use IA Writer to write everything (I use “markdown” to write my articles, which is a minimalist syntax format— easy to create headers, italicize, and bold text). I also use the full-screen “focus” mode, so I am not distracted by writing.
I use “Notes” when I’m reading books on my laptop (I usually use the iBooks app on my laptop to read book), and then I write down notes and ideas in the “Notes” app.
So to re-cap, write down as many random ideas you have. And highlight the few good ideas you might have.
6. Listen to the same soundtrack
A practical tip to get into the “zone” while writing or blogging— keep listening to the same 1 music album, or the same 1 song.
For me, this gets me into a “zen” state of focus. I also do the same when I’m at the gym.
For example, I currently have Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” on repeat while I’m writing these lines. And specifically, I have probably listened to his “Saint Pablo” track at least 50 times, to write not only this— but half a dozen other e-books, and articles I’ve written.
The secret is to find an album or soundtrack that you can keep on repeat— which shuts off your brain. Which drowns out the noise and distraction outside.
7. Turn off your phone
When you’re trying to write, or blog, my suggestion: turn off your phone completely. This is the biggest source of distraction. Because one little notification, text message or phone call can disrupt your “flow.”
This is what worked for me
Of course to re-iterate, I’m just writing down practical “recipes” that work for me. These might or might not work for you. My suggestion, just keep experimenting until you find what works for you.
Build an email list
Another mistake I made when I started off blogging— I didn’t create an email list.
I’d recommend building an email list as quickly as you can, I prefer using mailchimp.com. They are free when you’re starting off, but once you reach a certain subscriber base, you need to start paying money.
Why email? Because email is the most ancient form of “digital communication” we have— that will (unfortunately) exist forever.
The benefit of email to contact your viewers or readers is this— they are much more likely to see your email, rather than a random social media post. Social media platforms constantly filter your posts.
For example, I have 80,000 people following me on Facebook. But whenever I post something, only 1,000 people might see it. That is only 1.25% of my followers seeing my message.
However I have around 10,000 email subscribers. Whenever I send an email, about 50,000 people might open it. That is nearly a 50% open rate. That is a MASSIVE difference.
Personally, I hate email. I think it is a horrible communication platform which encourages people to over-communicate. Not only that, but most of us are addicted to email. We check out inboxes every 5-10 minutes. It is the first thing we check when we wake up, and the last thing we check before we sleep.
Yet email is also wonderful. I can communicate with anyone on the internet. It is free. It is an “open” platform. Email (for better or worse) is the least bad form of communication on the internet.
I still use email, although very infrequently. I have got lots of important messages via email (wedding invitations, business opportunities, messages from old friends), yet I also get a lot of junk.
Therefore for me, I try to check my email as infrequently as possible. That might mean once a day, once a week, or once a month. The less frequently you check your email, the more likely you are to find “signal” (an important email) rather than get distracted by “noise” (irrelevant emails).
Therefore for me, when I send out email newsletters to my followers, I try to do it as infrequently as possible. Usually this is once a week, or once a month. Currently it is around once a month.
I send out an email newsletter whenever I have a new product, a new free ebook, or new workshops. And whenever I send out these emails, I get tons of people buying my new products, reading my free new ebooks, or signing up for workshops.
So to re-iterate, focus on building up your email newsletter (instead of building up your social media following). I think 1 “true follower” via email is 10x more valuable than a random “follower” on social media.
And in terms of how often you send emails, send it whenever you think it is something valuable. That might be everyday, once a week, once a month, or once a year. But the general rule is this: don’t do unto others as you don’t want others to do unto you.
For example, I don’t like getting too many emails. So I try to send them as infrequently as I check my personal email.
Another example: I hate it when people have these pop-up ads on their website to get me to signup for their newsletter. So I don’t do that to my followers or blog readers. Rather, I have an unobtrusive email signup module at the end of each my blog posts.
But once again, just do what feels right to you. We all have different personal ethics.
It will probably take at least a year
Usually, when students signup for my workshops, they have been following me for at least 6 months-1 year. Because that is how long it takes them to trust me before they signup for my workshops.
Most students who signup for my workshops have watched several of my YouTube videos, like my photos, like my articles, and have read some of my free ebooks.
Therefore my practical suggestion is this: don’t try to monetize your photography website or blog with annoying ads. Rather, use it as a platform to build your platform to build trust.
Create as much useful and valuable information for your followers, in the form of articles, ebooks, or YouTube videos.
You also want to employ “pull” marketing, rather than “push” marketing.
“Pull” marketing is when you gently pull people towards you. Kind of how gravity works — planets naturally are drawn to one another. Or how magnets work.
“Push” marketing is aggressive — and when you are shoving things in people’s faces. This includes annoying pop-up ads, flashing banners, or anything that is annoying.
Think about it — who do you prefer to hang out with at a dinner party? Do you want to talk to the person who is a good listener, who is interesting, and isn’t self-centered? Someone who is interested in learning about you, instead of just talking a bout themselves all night?
Marketing is not evil. Marketing is just a modern word for communicating. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to “put yourself out there.” Great artists are also great marketers. Just ask Andy Warhol, Steve Jobs, or Picasso.
Give more than you take
Another practical tip — try to give 10x more than you take. This is how you build and add value.
For example, as a blogger, for every 10 blog posts you write that are helpful to your followers, write 1 blog post that is self-promotional.
And it isn’t bad to be self-promotional. It is bad to be overly self-promotional to the point it get annoying.
There is a saying there is a reason why God gave us 2 ears and just 1 mouth. We should listen more than we speak.
Similarly — when you are at a dinner party or meet your friends, ask them more questions, rather than talking all the time.
And with internet marketing and blogging, create more value than you take.
As an entrepreneur, you need to collaborate. That is what makes us human, and successful. It is cliche to say (but true) that it isn’t what you know, it is who you know.
When you’re starting off, collaborate as much with others as possible. Write guest blog posts for others, and have others write guest blog posts from you. Attend photography lectures from other photographers, and learn from others. Co-teach a photography workshop with someone else.
However at the same time, know when not to collaborate. For example, often when you try to over-collaborate, you just get nothing done.
For example, you might talk to a friend about starting a YouTube channel or a blog together. But if you are overly reliant on the other person, you might not get anything done.
For me, all of my best blogging is done solo. When I don’t rely on an editor before publishing things. When I don’t need to get someone to ‘approve’ my guest blog post. This is why I like blogging on my own blog, and my own platform.
However early on, it is good to collaborate as much as you can with other photographers, and brands. I know that when I started off, I got a lot of help from Leica (thanks to JJ and Christian), my local photography friends, photography friends online (Charlie Kirk, Josh White, many others), Invisible Photographer Asia (thank you Kevin Lee), Digital Photography School (thanks Darren Rowse), and countless others (you know who you are).
I don’t attribute any of my success to myself. It is rather the help I got from the titans I met along the way.
Chapter 3: How to design a workshop
Okay so in this section, we will talk about the practical tips on how to design a workshop, and how to teach a workshop.
What need are you fulfilling?
Okay, before you teach a workshop — think about what need you are filling in.
For example, one of the best ways to discover this is to figure out your own personal needs.
When I started off in street photography, I was scared shitless. I was so afraid to photograph strangers, especially without their permission.
It took me a long time to overcome my fear of shooting street photography (at least 5 years). But now, I am pretty fearless when it comes to shooting street photography. And the point of me doing my “Conquer Your Fear” workshops is to help others overcome their fears.
I feel this is a great workshop to teach, because as long as we are human, we will have feel fear.
Therefore, don’t think about what your students “want” — think about what they might “need.”
You might think your students want to learn how to take better photos. But in reality, they just might need to learn more self-confidence in their photography. You might think that your students want to attend a travel photography workshop to take good photos, but what your students might need is a break away from their crazy 9-5 jobs.
Therefore, think about what need you’re trying to fulfill in the lives of your students.
And often, the best need to fulfill is the one that you’ve needed yourself in the past.
The workshop format
There are a lot of different formats in terms of workshops you can teach.
For me, I’ve done 1-day, 2-day, 3-day workshops, and 5-day workshops.
It seems that the best “bang for the buck” workshop (in terms of time spent, and value added for the students) is the 2-day workshop. It gives you enough time to get to know the students, discover their needs, and also share with them some knowledge or ideas about photography.
I will try to share some practical blueprints for these workshops in the section below:
At the moment, I am focusing my efforts on the 2-day workshop, so this is what I will outline below.
Usually the workshop is on a Saturday/Sunday, as that is convenient for people as most people don’t work on the weekends.
On Saturday, you meet the students, give a brief lecture/activity, and then go shoot with the students, give them 1:1 instruction and guidance, and then usually have dinner with them.
On Sunday, you meet in the morning, have a coffee with them, and do some more shooting with them, grab lunch with them, then do mostly classroom time (reviewing images, and critiquing photos), then having dinner with them.
That is a basic blueprint for a 2-day workshop. I will try to get more into the nitty gritty:
Usually I have the workshop from 10am-6pm. The outline looks something like this:
- 10am: Meet students, ice-breaker activity, for students to get to know one another
- 10:30am-12pm: Start “official” workshop. You can use this hour and a half to give a lecture, a practical engaging activity, or some sort of educational information.
- 12-1pm: Have lunch, chat with students, get to know them, and allow them some time to be social with one another (a very crucial part for the workshop)
- 1-6pm: Time shooting in the streets
- 10am: Meet students for coffee, recap previous day
- 10:30am-12pm: More time shooting on the streets
- 12pm-1pm: Lunch
- 1-3pm: Classroom lecture on how to choose your best photos, and giving students some time to choose their best images
- 3pm-6pm: Putting all the best student photos on the projector, and giving an honest “feedback and critique” session. Usually limit the students to share their 1-3 best photos, and let the students give one another an in-depth analysis on what they did well, and how they could improve.
- 6pm: Hugs, laughs, group photos, and have dinner with students
Basic 2-day blueprint for workshop
This is a basic outline of a 2-day workshop. Of course, you can edit this blueprint however you’d like.
Some ideas: You can start earlier, or end earlier. Another thing I’ve done is to spend less time in the classroom (and more time out shooting) you ask the students to watch a pre-recorded lecture video before attending the workshop. I generally send out the students a 1-hour video lecture (that I pre-recorded on YouTube) on practical tips how to conquer their fears of shooting street photography. Then in class, I have them do a practice assignment in photographing one another, to make them comfortable shooting. I think the most useful part of a workshop is hands-on practice, rather than just listening to theory. So try to organize your workshop to spend the least amount of time possible in the classroom, and the most time actually practicing with the students.
Therefore, let’s say you are teaching a portrait workshop. Don’t spend too much time lecturing on how to shoot portraits. Rather, maximize the time for the students to actually practice and shoot themselves. People learn while they are doing, not when they’re listening.
Or if you’re doing a travel photography workshop, spend less time lecturing, more time actually traveling, shooting, and getting feedback on their photos.
The purpose of a workshop is to put students to work. Otherwise I think a lecture-based “workshop” is probably more of a “seminar.”
Ways you can modify a 2-day workshop
Things I’ve done in the past included doing a “2.5 day” or 3-day workshop, by having the students meet Friday evening, and give feedback and critique to their portfolios before the actual workshop. So on Friday evening, the students would share their 3 best photos from their portfolio from 5-8pm. Then we would have dinner, to get to know one another.
Or you can start on Friday morning at 10am. Then perhaps use the first half of the day to critique their portfolio. Then the rest of the day to shoot. And then on Saturday, you can use that morning to review more of their portfolio.
I’ve also done a few week-long (5-day) workshops, where it is usually more travel-based.
For example, I’ve done a week-long workshop in Venice/Verona, Calcutta, Saigon, and other “exotic” cities where students want to fly out, and do a workshop “experience” (not just photography, but the thrill of traveling, having good food, and building memories with other passionate photographers).
For the 5-day workshop, I usually start them on a Wednesday, and end on Sunday evening. I think this is easier for people to take off 3 days from work (instead of 5 days, if the workshop started on a Monday).
For the 5-day format, the blue print is something like this:
- Wednesday: Meet, ice-breakers, portfolio review, time shooting on the streets
- Thursday: Each student shares their best 3 photos from Wednesday, brief feedback and critique session (either in classroom or coffee shop), then more time shooting.
- Friday: Morning critique / afternoon shooting / dinner with students
- Saturday: Morning critique / afternoon shooting / dinner with students
- Sunday: Morning shooting / classroom time to choose best 3 photos from entire week / final critique
The great thing about a week-long workshop is that it gives you more time to get to know the students. To connect with them deeper. To not only get to know them as photographers, but human beings. This is because you have more meals together, more coffees together, and more life sharing together.
One of the benefits of doing a week-long workshop (instead of a 2-day workshop) is that it is less intense. It is more relaxed. Because you have a week together, instead of just a short intense 2-days.
There is no “better” or “worse” method. Just try to be flexible, and figure out what works best for you.
What should the student cap be?
In a workshop, you want to find an ideal balance for students.
For some teachers, that might be 6 students. For other teachers, that might be 20 students. Whatever you can personally handle.
I’ve found that it doesn’t necessarily matter how many students you have— but how you divide them.
For example, in a workshop, I always pair students together. This helps them teach one another, and always have someone to interact with (when you’re teaching other students). Not only that, but having a “photo buddy” during the workshop, you get to know 1 person really well.
Another strategy that works well, when you’re doing 1:1 or hands-on time with the students, break them into smaller groups.
For example, let’s say you have 16 students. Before you go out and shoot, pair them together (either randomly, or based on what camera system they use, so they can teach each other technical settings). And you can make “small groups” of 4 students (two pairs together). Therefore you can have 4 groups of 4 students (Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4) will be 16 students in total.
This is a lot easier to manage. Because when you’re shooting on the streets, you can arrange an hour of 1:1 time with each small group.
For example, in a 2-day workshop, on a Saturday, the blueprint would be:
- 1-2pm: Group 1
- 2-3pm: Group 2
- 3-4pm: Group 3
- 4-5pm: Group 4
- 5-6pm: Meet at coffee shop, recap the day, and look at some student photos on the back of their LCD screens
Also the good thing about making small groups is that you build some camaraderie. I usually like to make small groups of 4 depending on what camera they use. For example, the Fujifilm group, the DSLR group, or the Leica group. And the benefit is they can borrow lenses from one another, share technical tips on their cameras, and learn from one another.
One of the difficult problems as a teacher is that you cannot always be with all the students, all the time. Therefore by breaking them off into pairs, and small groups, you make it more possible for you to effectively use your time, to interact with as many students as possible.
The importance of sharing meals together
I think it is really important to share meals with your students. Whether that be breakfast, lunch, coffee, or dinner — it is the time for you to connect deeper with the students.
Also you can use meal times to look at their photos (that they’ve shot during the workshop), or look at their social media accounts, and give them feedback on their work. Not only that, but during meals, people are more relaxed, and social.
One of the biggest benefits of a workshop isn’t just learning how to take better photos. It is also to make new friends, to meet other passionate people, and to build a network and community. A lot of my students have stayed in touch after the workshops, which brings me great joy.
Teach your students what is practical
When you teach a workshop, you want to give students practical information. For example, when I’m teaching a street photography workshop, I will give them practical skills, tips, and assignments which I think will help them.
For example, I will teach the students how to shoot layers, how to shoot street portraits, how to use a flash, and how to make simpler compositions. I will show them ways to setup their camera, use exposure-compensation, use manual-focusing, or address any other questions they may have.
I also feel it is beneficial to give them assignments and directions. Don’t just tell your students to go off and just do whatever they feel like. Students need focus, and direction. And you need to give it to them.
For example, in my street photography workshops, some assignments I’ve given to students include:
- Approach a bunch of strangers to take their portrait, and keep asking until you get 5 people to say “yes” and 5 people to say “no.”
- Take 1,000 photos in a day (to overcome photographer’s block)
- Practice shooting candid street photos by taking at least 5 photos of every scene they find interesting.
- Practice composition by focusing on diagonals, lines, curves, leading lines, focusing on certain colors, or using a flash
- Stand on one street corner for an hour, and photograph anyone who comes to your corner.
- Focus on a theme, or a project. Only photograph old people for the weekend, or young people, or the color red, or animals.
You want the assignments to be practical. Because if the assignments are too theoretical, it will be difficult for the students to actually put the assignment into practice.
Love your students
This is a bit cheesy— but the most important thing in doing a workshop is to show love to your students. To actually show that you care and give a fuck.
Honestly, a lot of photographers are turning to teaching workshops because it is an easy way to make a buck. And a lot of these teachers don’t really care about the students.
You can’t guarantee whether your students will have a good experience at the workshop or not. That is out of your control. Because no matter what, you will always let some students down.
However, the one thing you can control is how much you care for your students. The effort you put in. The ability for you to listen, empathize, and show attention to your students. That means really putting in effort when you’re teaching your workshop. That means not always checking your smartphone, and talking about yourself. It means encouraging the students to share their photos with you. It means giving them practical advice or suggestions, which you think will be valuable to them. It means giving them lots of fist-bumps, hand-shakes, high-fives, hugs, and kisses.
One of the lessons I learned being a teacher from my mentor Michael Lee is this: “10 years from now, your students won’t remember anything you taught them. However, they will remember whether you loved them or not.”
And it is true. I don’t remember anything my past teachers in school has taught me. However, I do remember whether they showed love to me. Whether they cared. Whether they put in effort. Whether they engaged us or not.
The teachers I loved the most were the ones who challenged us, who asked us a lot of questions, and engaged in debate and open-discussions. Thank God to my Sociology professor at UCLA (Terri Anderson) who encouraged us Sociology students to question our beliefs, to speak up, and to share ideas.
Ultimately as a teacher, you want to love your students. Care for them. Share them what you think will be useful to them, but do it sincerely, from your heart.
Chapter 4: How to make money from teaching workshops
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably interested in the practical moneymaking part of workshops— how to literally make a living from teaching workshops.
Making a living vs a killing
The first thing I want to emphasize is this: there is a difference between making a living doing something, and making a killing doing something.
Making a living doing something you love is having enough for the basics. To pay rent, to pay for your food, your basic expenses, and of course— your coffee.
To make a killing doing something you love is being able to live in a fancy apartment, driving a BMW, and having a Rolex (and perhaps a Leica).
Our goal is to make a living doing what we are passionate about. Not making a killing.
If you’re looking to become rich and making a killing from teaching photography workshops, you might want to look elsewhere.
But still, I have been fortunate enough to make a comfortable living from teaching photography workshops. I have enough to pay my rent, not worry about paying the bills, and saving some money for the future. What more do I need?
How much money should I charge?
The first question you might wonder is: “How much money should I charge from my workshops?”
Generally it makes sense to start off charging less (when you’re starting off), and slowly raising your prices, the more experienced you become, and the more popular your workshops become.
Generally as a rule, I’ve discovered that most beginner entrepreneurs and photographers under-sell themselves. Meaning, they under-charge. They don’t charge enough money.
The strange thing is that as humans— we think that if something is more expensive, it is more valuable, and is a better quality.
For example, we assume that a $100,000 car is superior to a $30,000 car. We assume that a $5000 camera is superior to a $500 camera. We assume the $100 medicine will work better than the $10 medicine.
The human mind has a lot of information to process. So it is easy for our minds to make a shortcut: higher price = higher quality.
Therefore when you’re charging for workshops, don’t charge too little. If you charge too little (let’s say $50) — that is far too cheap. I would even say that $100 or $200 is too little for teaching a workshop. My personal suggestion would be start off charging at least $300 for a 2-day workshop. At least. Then the more popular your workshops, you can decide whether to charge more money.
Focus on value, not money
When you’re advertising and selling your workshop, don’t focus on the price. Rather, focus on the value you plan on providing to your students.
Don’t focus on the “features” of the workshop (what you’re going to do at the workshop). Rather, focus on the benefits of the workshop. What will the students gain from attending your workshop? Will the workshop help them build more personal confidence and creative confidence?
If you’re teaching a business-related photography workshop (commercial photography, wedding photography, or even a workshop on how to teach photography workshops) think of the added value you can provide.
For example, let’s say your workshop costs $500. If your student attends the workshop and eventually earn $1000 in extra money (from teaching the workshop), the “added value” of the workshop will be $500. So essentially, your student is investing in themselves by attending your workshop. Sell them on that benefit.
Of course you can’t guarantee that your student will earn that much extra money from attending your workshop. But as a general tip, I recommend giving your students a “100% money-back guarantee.” Why? Because more students will sign up, because they have less to lose. Not only that, but if you have confidence in your skills, you shouldn’t be worried whether your students ask for their money back. And even if your students ask for their money back, you technically haven’t “lost” anything. You should never calculate how much profit you earn until after you teach the workshop.
For example, let’s say you charge $500 for a 2-day workshop, teach 20 students, and 2 students ask for their money back at the end. Then you shouldn’t treat it like you lost $1000. Rather, think that you earned the income from 18 students ($9000). Cheat yourself mentally by adding to the benefit, and subtracting from the downside.
And very rarely do people ever ask for their money back anyways. In the 6 years I’ve taught workshops, only 2 students have ever asked for their money back. For one student, I ended up giving him free online 1:1 Skype lessons, and turned one dissatisfied student into a satisfied student. The other student wasn’t satisfied with the workshop experience, and I only have myself to blame.
How to have confidence in yourself
The biggest barrier to starting a business is confidence in yourself. Trust me, I suffer this myself. I under-sell myself, because I often don’t believe in myself and my capability. But honestly, a lot of this negative self-talk is B.S. This is because we are taught that we should do art for art sake, and somehow by charging money, we are “selling out.”
In truth, the greatest art is to make money from doing what you love. And it takes great skill, personal confidence, and courage. Whoever that claims you for “selling out” is just projecting their own self-insecurity to you. Those people probably want to make a living doing what they love. And to see you pursue their dreams hurts their own self-esteem. So like Ulysses and the Sirens, simply ignore them by stopping up your ears with wax. Just ignore the haters, and don’t acknowledge what they say — just how a noble steed (horse) ignores the barking of dogs.
What if nobody signs up?
There is no “failure” in business, only feedback.
If you advertised a workshop, and nobody signs up — don’t be discouraged and think you are a failure or something. Rather, treat this as “feedback.”
Maybe your feedback is that you charged too much. Try charging less next time. Or perhaps you didn’t advertise it enough. Or perhaps you didn’t sell the benefits and added value enough. Or perhaps you aren’t popular enough, or don’t have a strong enough following (yet).
The secret is to constantly tweak, iterate, and “fail forward.” Don’t take it personally if nobody signs up, or “not enough” people sign up. Just think of how you can keep tinkering with your advertising language, what you offer, and the content on your blog (or social media).
When you’re starting off— the great thing about doing a workshop is that the startup costs are very low. You can start off by teaching a workshop at a coffee shop, and you don’t even need a venue to rent. But once you get more students, it is generally nice to have a venue, where you can rent a projector, and easily work on photos while drinking coffee.
However with technology, you can innovate. Perhaps the entire workshop will be shot on smartphones, and you can quickly review and critique photos that way. Perhaps you can somehow integrate tablets and laptops, and make your workshop very mobile.
The biggest tip I have is this: keep your expenses as low as possible. Don’t seek to increase your profits, but lower your expenses.
This way if anything goes wrong, your maximum possible loss is very little. Don’t go off renting expensive studios, classrooms, or spaces if you are starting off. Be “lean” and scrappy — invest in the minimum possible, and focus on maximizing your value for your students through your instruction, practical knowledge, and 1:1 time.
How to handle payments
Personally, I handle all my payments through PayPal, and get people to signup with their information via Google Forms/Sheets. It has been a pretty seamless way to charge money, and also organize the students.
Chapter 5: Transitioning into doing what you love for a living
For this chapter, I will try to give some practical tips how you can end up doing what you love (let’s say teaching photography workshops) for a living.
Lower your living expenses
If you really want to make a living from teaching photography workshops, my practical suggestion: lower your personal living expenses as much as humanly possible.
That might mean cancelling your smartphone plan, moving into a smaller apartment (or renting a room), it might mean moving to a cheaper city or country, it might mean not eating out as much, it might mean selling your car, or getting rid of any superfluous expenses in your life.
If you really want to do what you love for a living, you will have to make a lot of personal sacrifices.
As a practical assignment, see how cheaply you can afford to feed yourself for a week. Elon Musk survived on $1 a day in food when he was starting his own personal business, eating only hot dogs and spaghetti. My personal experiment has been surviving only off eggs, water, and coffee. So don’t worry, you won’t starve to death.
And even regarding your rent (the biggest source of stress for most people), imagine your worst-case scenario. You won’t become homeless. Perhaps you move into a cheaper studio, you rent a room from a friend, or move back in with your mom (sometimes this can be an advantage, like free food, and your parent’s love).
Everyone’s irrational fear is a fear of death. So if you plan on pursuing photography for a full-time living, don’t fear death. You won’t die. You won’t be rich, but you won’t necessarily be living in poverty either. Your assignment is to make enough to live on the basics, and to focus all your creative energy on what you are passionate about — photography, teaching, and creative work.
Should I quit my job?
My practical suggestion: Don’t quit your day job, until you start earning enough from teaching workshops, where you think you can literally make a living from teaching workshops.
The benefits of having a 9-5 job is many. You can use your down-time at work to blog, build up your social media following, and also save up money. I personally had a full-time job when I was building up my blog. I blogged before work, during lunch, and after work. I used dead time at work to build up my social media following, and do research. I used my lunch breaks at work, and time after work to take photos. And on the weekends, I devoted all my physical and mental energy to building up my blog — because I so desperately wanted to (eventually) do what I loved for a living (street photography).
If you have a steady job, and you really want to do photography workshops for a living — start saving up money. That doesn’t mean you have to earn more money at your job. It just means lowering your expenses. Pack a lunch to the office, and don’t drink $5 lattes at Starbucks. Brew your own coffee, go out less with your friends, and stop buying stuff you don’t need. And the biggest error we make as photographers: stop buying gear you don’t need. Honestly, I have some friends who are even making a living teaching iPhone/smartphone photography workshops. So don’t thin that not having a good enough camera is preventing you from doing photography for a full-time living.
My personal story is that I was building up my blog, and had a full-time job. Fortunately, I got “made redundant” after about a year of working there. And fortunately enough, I worked up enough on my blog, to have a strong enough following.
When I got laid off, I had no idea how I would make a living from street photography or my blog. I experimented with the idea of doing workshops, and from 2011-2016 I’ve made it my full-time living.
I’m one of the lucky few. And honestly, this guide won’t guarantee any success for you. My honest hope is that it helps push you in the right direction, and has some practical ideas, thoughts, and formulas for you to try out.
But times are always changing with technology. So a lot of this information might not be relevant in the future.
However the principles remain the same.
- You need to build up trust with your audience (personal branding)
- You need to offer value in your workshop (what will the students benefit from attending your workshop?)
- You need to charge money (how can you make a living if you don’t charge money?)
But the truth is— the harder you hustle, the more hours you work, the more connections you build, and the more heart, blood, sweat, tears, and soul you put into your work — the more likely you are to succeed.
Does a world-class boxer become world-class without sustaining punches, bruises, bleeding, sleep deprivation, starvation, and getting beaten up? No.
Entrepreneurship is the same. You will go through emotional highs, lows, bouts of self-doubt, anxiety, frustration, fear (of going broke or death), and possibly depression.
Elon Musk once said starting your own business and trying something risky was like eating shards of glass and staring into the abyss.
But your life is short. Why spend your short (and only) life on doing shit you don’t want to do for the rest of your life? If your passion is at the intersection of photography, teaching, and technology (like it was for me) — why not try to make your passion(s) your living?
I know for me personally, once I was able to make my passion for photography my living— I have been able to flourish so much more creatively, personally, emotionally, and spiritually. I now have more time to think, meditate, write, create, and share valuable information and knowledge with others. It is incredible how much more you can accomplish in life by having an extra 8 hours a day of mental, physical, and emotional energy. And the fact that you don’t need to stress out about office politics, worries about pleasing the boss, or getting ahead in the “rat race.”
But once again, there is no point in complaining about reality. Rather, take reality to your advantage, and pursue your dream with all your heart and soul. Do the absolute possible minimum work at your job without getting fired, and spend all your spare time and energy pursuing your passion.
Nobody has enough time, but we all have distractions. So rather than trying to “find more time”, relentlessly prune away the superfluous in your life. Stop watching Netflix, don’t waste time with games (video games, smartphone games, etc), don’t waste time on superfluous office or networking opportunities that won’t help you, and learn how to ignore, and say “no” (in a nice way) to others. If you don’t take control of the steering wheel in your life, others will always steer your boat for you. And the sad thing is that nobody has your best interests in mind.
Think about death
Honestly, the best way I’ve been able to focus in life, doing what I love, and entrepreneurship is thinking about death. To literally imagine like every day were your last.
If you went to sleep tonight, and you knew you wouldn’t wake up the next morning, what would you not do today? And what would you do instead?
What kind of positive action can you take in your life, today — to take a step in the right direction towards your dreams?
Don’t let society crush your dreams, your ambition, and your idealism. “Reality” is just a false reality. It is like Plato’s allegory of the cave— we are all prisoners, staring at shadows on the wall, rather than trying to free ourselves from our shackles, and go outside and see the true light.
So friend, follow your dreams with your fullest passion, heart, and soul. There is nothing holding you back. Believe in yourself, have confidence, and pursue your dreams with your upmost ability.