Why You Should Make Money With Your Photography

There ain’t nothing dirty with money. Money is good, in today’s capitalist world. Money is a tool. Having money isn’t a sin.

1. I didn’t know money was just a tool.

Christian morality has kind of screwed a lot of us up, including myself.

I was taught money was the root of all evil. It didn’t help that most of my family’s problems were surrounded by money.

For example, my parents would always argue because we were short of money. My dad gambled away the rent money, and didn’t have a job since I was 2 years old.

I therefore grew up thinking: money is the root of all evil.

It also didn’t help I studied sociology, in a very liberal, left-leaning institution (UCLA). I didn’t want to “sell out to the man.” I still saw money as evil.

But as I matured, I realized:

Money is like fire. It is just a tool. It can be used for good or evil.

For example, my uncle gave my mom $10,000 USD to pay off her credit card debt. That was a good use of money. I am so grateful to my Minkyu uncle for doing that.

An example of evil: giving $100,000 USD to terrorists to buy AK-47 guns to kill people.

2. Money is a tool.

In today’s world, we live in a capitalist, money driven world.

But it has been that way since ancient times.

Philosopher Publilius Syrus once said 2,000 years ago:

Money is what sets the entire world in motion.

Also good advice from him:

A thing is worth what people are willing to pay for it.

Anyways, money has always been part of human civilization and society.

Therefore the more money you have, the more power and the more control you have over your life.

For myself, I don’t need more money to buy more Rolex watches, more Lamborghinis, Rolls-Royces, Versace clothing, Leica cameras, or shit I don’t need.

I need money to pay rent, transportation, coffee, and dinner.

In-fact, I see money as the best invention ever. Why? I can specialize what I’m good at (teaching, writing, blogging) and getting paid via money, to use that money to help support my family, and to help support my friends.

Berkeley, 2015 #cindyproject

And the more money I have, the more generous I can be. Even now, I feel rich as fuck, not because I make a lot of money– but because I have a high income, but low expenses. I feel liberated. So I can blog about whatever I want, to help others, without worrying whether I need to make more money to just pay for the bills.

Because I have a lot of money, I can contribute to blog without worrying about rent. I can give away free information, without charging you money to download an ebook, videos, or access to this site.

3. Your time is valuable

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

As a photographer, your photos, time, and effort is valuable.

Don’t undersell yourself as a photographer.

If you’re starting off, shoot stuff for free. But if your time is limited and valuable to you, charge money for it.

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

That doesn’t mean you gotta charge money to friends and family to make photos. You have the power to decide whether to shoot things for loved ones for free (or to charge money for it). It is up to you.

But my suggestion: have no personal qualms about charging a lot of money for your photo services, especially for big companies. Or if you value your time, charge money for your time, photographs, advice, or attention.

4. Do you give away your time for free?

Saigon, 2017

The problem: we treat others time as free.

If you send someone an email, and it takes them 15 minutes to respond, depending on what their hourly rate is– they’re investing their time and life to respond.

Assuming your labor is worth $100 an hour, spending 15 minutes to respond to an email is $25.

Saigon, 2017

Assuming your labor is worth $20 an hour, spending an hour to give “free advice” to someone at a coffee shop is worth $20 of your time.

Ultimately, your life and time is the most valuable asset.

I’m sorry for this spoiler alert, but…

One day you will die.

At best, we might live to be 100 years old. At worst, you might die today.

5. Your life is an iPhone battery at 5%

I’m gonna speak from my perspective.

I’m currently 29 years old almost 30 years old. Okay let’s say I’ll die at age 90.

I’ve already lived 1/3 of my life. I only have 2/3 of my life left.

That means, my iPhone battery is at 66.66%.

Still pretty good. But that’s assuming I will live to be age 90.

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

I might die of cancer at age 60.

So assuming I’m age 30, my iPhone battery is at 50%. Starting to get scarier.

Even worse, let’s say that I will die in a car accident at age 40. Even worse. Now, I’m in the red.

Imagine your life is an iPhone battery at 5%.

Anyways the moral of the story is this:

If you’re going to sell your time and life, don’t do it for cheap.


Saigon, 2017

Honestly it ultimately takes the following to have the confidence to charge money for your photography, art, services, and time:

  1. You are a good photographer and artist. You deserve to charge money for your photos, services, and skills.
  2. If you knew you only had 1 year left to live, how much would you sell 1 hour of your time for?
  3. Don’t think you’re “selling out” by charging for your services. You only sell out, if you betray your personal beliefs or ethics for money. If your services and photography is in accordance with your ethics you aren’t selling out.

You got this.


Photography Entrepreneurship 101

Saigon, 2017

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

How to Make Money with Photography

Photography Marketing 101

How to Hustle.

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media

How to Save Money