Dear friend,

To continue PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101, realize: there is no “blueprint” for success in photography.

However, I want to share some things that has helped me become “successful”. Of course this advice won’t help you, not apply to you.

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1. Love the hustle

Hanoi, 2017 by CINDY

I love working hard and hustling. For me, if things were too easy, they would be no fun.

I add resistance, weight, and difficulty to my workouts. I always try to improve myself, and take myself to the next level.

Why? Because it is fun. It is non-boring. Even the ancients said, “It is hard for even the Gods to avoid boredom” (therefore humans were created, to be the playthings of the (bored) Gods.

In photography, I try to innovate for the sake of improving my vision, and my visual acuity. I want to improve my skills and visual prowess.

Children shall inherit the earth. Why? They love to play.

When is the last time you just played for the hell of it? Just for fun?

Hustling ain’t about forcing yourself to work when you don’t wanna. To “hustle” isn’t answering emails. To hustle is to make stuff. Make art. To believe in yourself.

For me, as a blogger I hustle by blogging and writing a lot.

If you’re a photographer trying to make a living by making photos, make more good photos. Innovate with your composition, color combinations, and emotions.

Always be hungry to innovate by studying other artists whose work you love.

2. Onto the next one.

Hanoi, 2017

“I’m onto the next one.” – Jay-Z

Don’t rest on your success and laurels for too long. When you have any sort of success, move onto the next one.

For example, if you land a big deal. Aim bigger.

Imagine yourself like an adventurous hiker. You climb higher and higher mountains. And when you climb Mount Everest, you build a new mountain to surmount.

So let’s day you make a good photo. Don’t be satisfied. Hustle harder to make better photos, that are more dynamic, have more emotion, more innovative color palettes, and are more interesting to look at.

3. Own your own platform.

Portrait by Frank Steltzer

I’m inspired by Jay-Z, who bought Tidal, and effectively owns his own platform. He owns the masters to his music, which means he doesn’t have to sell on other platforms against his power.

For example, Magnum was founded, so the photographers could own their own copyright.

For myself, I don’t work with other publishers, because I want 100% control of my content and information. Cindy has built HAPTICPRESS as a platform for publishing good art, still giving power and freedom to the artist.

Practical advice: you will never become successful as a photographer if you’re a slave to Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. Don’t waste time building followers on someone else’s platform. Build your own platform.

To build your own platform, own your own website. Use and then install and I recommend buying and using the Genesis theme.

Just because you pay for the platform, doesn’t mean you own it.

But be careful, not all paid platforms can be “owned” by you.

I even advise against using platforms like Square Space and other platforms you pay for. Why? You have less freedom to modify, export, or change things. And if the platform decides to change something for you, you lose freedom.

For example, let’s say there is a function or feature you like. The platform has the power to revoke that feature, against your will.

The benefit of using other platforms.

The benefit of using other platforms: they just work. For example, using Apple products work very well. You lose a little bit of control and freedom, but it is a “walled garden”, or a “golden prison”, however you see it. This is why I prefer to use an Android phone instead of an iPhone. I like to hack and modify my phone so Android is better for me.

So just ask yourself,

Do I like freedom, control, flexibility, hacking, or something that just works?

Why not just use Instagram?

Problem with Instagram: you’re their slave.

Instagram (owned by Facebook) isn’t an altruistic platform to make you become a great artist. No. Instagram (and Facebook) are advertising platforms. They want you to use Instagram and Facebook, and get addicted and dependent (like a cocaine or coffee dealer) so you need them.

For example, if you share something on Instagram, not 100% of your followers will see your post. Maybe only 5%. If you want a higher percentage of your followers to see your post, you gotta pay Instagram/Facebook money to “boost” your post.

On my Facebook fan page, I have around 100,000 fans. Yet, if I post something, only 1,000 people might see it. Do I want more of my fans to hear about my new workshops, products, or photos or posts? Well, I pay Facebook $10-50 to “boost” my post for more of my fans to see my post.

Now this seems unfair. It isn’t. You’re using Facebook’s “free” platform. How us Facebook gonna make money as a company? You betcha: charging money for you to access more of your own fans, or by selling you advertisements.

Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion. How do you think Facebook is going to recoup their investment? Yeah, they’re gonna get you addicted to using Instagram, analyze your user behavior, to annoy you with new advertisements.

Conclusion: Freedom is the key.


The key to success as a photographer or entrepreneur: have freedom.

Avoid anything that diminishes your personal freedom, even if it makes your life more difficult.

For example, I decided to work for myself, because I have more freedom. I have freedom over my time, focus, and attention. I don’t have to go into a stuffy office everyday, for 8 hours a day, and dutifully answer my emails. I can decide when to work, or when not to work.

I have the freedom now to work where I want. I can work at my apartment, my hotel room, my favorite coffee shops or on a plane.

Now I’m my own boss, I’m self-owned. No more bullshit office politics, or sucking up to my boss or higher-ups.

I also make more money now that I’m an entrepreneur. I’m not hunting for small incremental “raises” at work. I’m shooting for the moon.

So friend, know that if you want to make your passion of photography for a living, it’s gonna be fucking hard. You’re gonna leave your golden cage, to the wildness. It is fucking scary. You’re gonna stress out about finances. You will go to sleep at night, ridden with self-doubt and fear. You’re going to worry about how to pay for health care, rent, and expenses.

But, you will control your own life, and own sweet sweet freedom.

And isn’t that all we ultimately want, freedom? Freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, without being forced or compulsion to do what you don’t want to?



ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP // Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

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


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