The great thing about life and being alive: you can live your life however you desire, and to pursue it in a way which you find personally-meaningful and important.
To start off, why write this?
This is advice I want to give to the youth, and to everybody in general; especially if you’re an entrepreneur, or trying to enact some sort of social, political, or economic change.
If nobody has done it before, that is why you must do it.
Innovation is doing new things in a new way. Innovation is novelty mixed with technology. Innovation is following your own gut, and doing things differently from the masses, and seeing things differently from the masses.
In praise of individualism
America is weird: as children growing up we’re told that we are special, unique, and that we should follow our own gut and intuition. For the most part, we are encouraged to innovate, try out new things, and to pride ourselves in our individuality.
Yet, this individualistic ethos is marred by Christian guilt and morality of selflessness, as well as Puritan values which were imported from England from our forefathers. Thus American culture is in a pickle:
How can you be both individualistic and selfless at the same time?
Well, I don’t think you really can. But I’ve found my own version, which has suited me:
Follow your own gut, your own instincts, your own intuition, and innovate for the sake of empowering and helping others.
So outlined as an arrow:
Empower yourself in order to help others.
I do think the ultimate goal is to help others, but if you’re weak and anemic, how can you carry others on your back? You need a strong chest and back, and muscles abounding if you are to carry yourself and others on your back.
First water your own garden
“Don’t water the garden of others if your own garden is parched.” – Publius Syrus (written 2,000 years ago)
I believe it is the moral/ethical duty of strong humans to help weaker humans. I don’t think this is a universal law, nor “should” it be a universal law we superimpose/force upon individuals and society. Yet, this is something I personally believe in and pursue.
Why? Growing up, I was weak, poor, and disadvantaged, yet I got a lot of help from others; my teachers, mentors, community, mom, and the American government, to become the strong person I am today. And now at age 30, I feel like a bit of an “OG” (original gangster), and I have finally had enough life experiences to give to the newer generation (kids in their teens and 20s), but also to share my experiences with those older than me.
I’ve been “successful” in my photography in the traditional sense: broke the $200,000 a year income as a photographer (combined with Cindy), built a substantial savings (over 250k with Cindy), traveled the world (more cities than I can remember), bought expensive stuff I desired (Leica, etc), got internet famous, had solo exhibitions all around the globe, had books published, self published my own books and created my own products with Cindy and HAPTIC, made some iconic photos, gained “financial freedom”, lived nomadically, etc.
I feel like on on top of the world, and on top of my photography game. I get recognized on the streets by random strangers usually once or twice a month, I’m one of the most famous/influential street photographers/bloggers, and I’ve made several photography projects I’m very proud of (SUITS, ONLY IN AMERICA, CINDYPROJECT).
Now the question is: how did I become “successful”, what does success mean to me, what advice would I give to younger photographers and individuals, and what’s my next step?
Well, in the words of Frank Sinatra and JAY Z: do it your way.
This is my reasoning:
Never let anyone define success for you. You must define success for yourself.
If you allow others to define success for you; you ain’t gonna feel successful, or be successful. It’s funny, because the word “successful” is such a modern concept. I haven’t heard it anywhere in ancient literature. The closest concept is “glory/honor” which usually came from victory in battle in ancient Roman times. And it didn’t even matter that much if you won or lost the battle; dying for a cause you believed in, or for your country with bravery, confidence, and courage was enough to be “successful”.
Anyways, from an entrepreneurial perspective, this is why it makes sense (and cents) to do things “your way”:
The unreasonable man makes the world adapt to him; instead of adapting to the world. – Bernard Shaw
Reality is malleable. Steve Jobs would often use his “reality distortion field” (like the Borg in Star Trek) to get/create what he wanted. Elon Musk started an electric car company (Tesla) and space rocket company (SpaceX) at almost nearly the same time (unheard of).
True innovators and entrepreneurs ignore traditional wisdom, and ways of doing things. That’s the only real way to innovate.
Now, unfortunately a lot of modern “success” comes down to money. Money is easily quantifiable to the simple human mind, and we use it as a marker of success.
However, this is silly. Why? Vincent van Gogh didn’t sell a single painting when he was alive, and didn’t achieve any acclaim until well after he died. Many great artists, innovators, scientists aren’t acknowledged, appreciated, or rewarded/regarded until decades, centuries, after they’re dead! Ada Lovelace only has recently gotten more credit for innovating and starting the first modern computer. Tesla should have been given as much credit as Edison, but Tesla died broke. Vivian Maier was unknown for her photography while still alive, and want discovered until recently.
So realize: as an innovator/entrepreneur, you shouldn’t expect to be rewarded. You might never be rewarded. But would you still try to do it?
Doing it your way is a risky business. Why? You can lose money, lose social credibility, and risk being ostracized by your peers and family.
Yet, I think the best way to think of ourselves as entrepreneurs are like Spartan soldiers (consider the movie 300). We put our lives, reputation on the line for what we truly believe in.
Now, the great thing is that we won’t die for pursuing our entrepreneurial ideas. At worst, we will become bankrupt, and the great thing is that bankruptcy is a modern invention which prevents us from falling into indentured servitude or slavery. In the past if you went broke or couldn’t pay your debts, you would be sold into slavery. Thus Christianity tells us to forget those who owe us money, in order to free them from slavery. To get a vivid view of how shitty slavery is, just watch “Spartacus” by Kubrick, or “Django Unchained” by Terentino.
Anyways, when you pursue things your way, there’s a very high probability that the result won’t be what you have in mind. But my suggestion is this: as an entrepreneur, consider yourself a “mad scientist”: you might have to try out an experiment 10,000 times before you get 1 successful result!
And even funner: sometimes your “mistakes” can end up being useful inventions! This is how scotch tape (Bell Labs, failed experiment for strong glue), the microwave oven (failed Xray experiment), and many other things have been invented.
But it has never been done that way!
The worst advice someone can tell you is this:
“Don’t do it that way. Nobody else has ever done it that way, and therefore you will fail!”
Ignore nay sayers. Just experiment and find out for yourself (without killing yourself in the process, of course).
Steve Jobs was the first person to ever even think of making computers or electronic devices” beautiful”. I still remember growing up, all computer PC’s were ugly beige boxes. Now all mobile phones and devices are beautiful (thanks to Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad) and the innovations of Steve Jobs, Jony Ive, and the design team).
Steve Jobs did Apple his way: defying all “common knaokedge”. He got rid of the external ports on the Macintosh computer, even though Steve Wozniak wanted them to be there (back then all computers had many slots). Steve Jobs was the first to put design first over engineering. Steve Jobs created a ruckus when he refused to put USB ports into the iPad, because he didn’t want to screw up the minimalist design aesthetic.
The true innovator is a bit of a tyrant, in the sense that they superimpose their tastes and values upon others; rather than letting the herd/masses dictate their taste. And if the entrepreneur or artist is diligent, persistent, and lucky enough; he/she will succeed. It might take decades, however, or sometimes will only succeed far after you’re dead.
Let me talk about my best friend Kanye West; the first black rapper to wear skinny jeans, pink polos, backpacks, to popularize autotune and singing in rap, to speak his mind freely (George Bush doesn’t care about black people), to crossover rap and rock music, and to also successfully break free from the “producer” category to get into rapping, then eventually to break out of rapping to get into fashion and design.
Love him or hate Kanye; it doesn’t matter. He is doing his life his own way.
Die with no regrets
You’re going to die one day. Don’t you want to lie on your deathbed with no regrets?
Live today to the fullest, because you never know when you’ll die; whether crossing the street from a drunk driver, or from an accidental overdose.
MEMENTO MORI and MEMENTO VIVERE!
# Photography Entrepreneurship 101 >
Never stop innovating: “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography Entrepreneurship“.
How to Make a Living from Your Passion
- How to Measure Your Progress as a Photography Entrepreneur + Come Up With New Ideas
- How to Make a Living From Your Passion in Photography
Put a Dent in the Universe.
- Fear Disguised as Reason
- Distraction is the Enemy
- Innovate for the Sake of Innovating!
- Reality is Malleable!
- Stoic Entrepreneurship
- Against Self-Preservation
- The Purpose of Life is to Make New Stuff!
How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur
- You Have No Limits.
- Calculated Risk-Taking
- Invest in Yourself
- The Secret of Happiness: Shoot for the Moon!
- Moonshot Thinking
- Why We Should all Be Photography Entrepreneurs
- Memento Mori Entrepreneurship
- Why it is Better to Beg For Forgiveness than Ask For Permission
- How to Become a Digital Nomad
- Why You Must Own Your Own Platform
- First Principle Thinking for Photography Entrepreneurs
- How I Became a Digital Nomad
- Better to Beg For Forgiveness than Ask For Permission!
- Spurn Pleasing Others!
- Create Your Own Niche
- How to Gain More Exposure For Your Photography
- Intense Focus
- How to Conquer Your Fears as an Entrepreneur
- Define Yourself
- Let Dissatisfaction Drive You Forward!
- It Doesn’t Matter if Someone Else Has Done it Before!
- How to Succeed as a Photography Entrepreneur: Be Extremely Resourceful
- Open Source Business Model in Photography Entrepreneurship
- Entrepreneurship 101: Growth and Innovation Over Self-Preservation
- How to Create Value as a Photography Entrepreneur
- Why Become a Photography Entrepreneur?
- Why You Must Ignore Nay-Sayers to Succeed in Entrepreneurship, Business, and Life
The Modern Photographer: Tips, Strategies, and Tactics to Thrive as a Visual Artist in the Digital Age
Marketing, Branding, Entrepreneurship Principles For Success
MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER is your new philosophical and practical primer to succeed as a modern photographer in today’s digital world.
– MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER KINDLE EDITION ON AMAZON
– SEE ALL PRODUCTS ON AMAZON
## Business Mental Models
– How to Succeed as a Photography Entrepreneur: Be Extremely Resourceful
– Open Source Business Model in Photography Entrepreneurship
– Entrepreneurship 101: Growth and Innovation Over Self-Preservation
## How to Monetize Your Photography
- Photography Entrepreneurship 101: INFLUENCE
- Should I Monetize My Passion for Photography?
- 10 Practical Photography Monetization Strategies: Pricing, Google SEO, & Entrepreneurship
- How to Make Money From Street Photography
Why Become a Photography Entrepreneur?
Take control of your own photographic destiny:
THE MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER
- CREATIVE CAPITALISM
- How to Monetize Your Photography
- 5 Practical Photography Career Tips and Advice
- 10x Thinking
- How to Hustle as a Photographer
- How to Become Your Own Master Marketer
- The ‘T’ Technique of Success
- Go Ahead and Sell Out
- What is Your Unique Voice?
- Why You Must Self-Promote Yourself
- What is Your Unique Angle as a Photographer?
- Photography Content Marketing 101
- Why You Must Become Your Own Publisher
- The Art of Cross-Pollination in Photography
Photography Entrepreneurship Articles
- Why You Shouldn’t Trust Your Pictures to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Flickr
- How to Make Money From Your Photography
- Photography SEO and Blogging: How to Become Number One on Google
- Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation
- Now is the Best Time to Be a Photographer
- What Is The Value of a Picture?
- Your Photographic Labor is Not Free
PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS 101
- Chapter 1. How to Make a Photography Blog
- Chapter 2. How to Price Yourself
- Chapter 3. How to Find Your Market
- Chapter 4. Why Teach Workshops?
- Chapter 5. How to Build Trust
- Chapter 6. How to Market Yourself
- Chapter 7: Why Should Someone Attend Your Workshop?
KEYS TO SUCCESS
- Why You Must Be a “Personality” in Order to Succeed
- THRIVE OR DIE.
- Impatience is a Virtue
- Create Your Own Category
- HOW TO DREAM BIG.
- Will Not or Cannot?
- Why Not?
- How to Think BIG
- How to Stay Ahead of the Curve
- How to Invest in Yourself
- The Two Camera Rule
- MEANINGFUL DIFFERENTIATION
- Advice For College Students
- How to Thrive in Uncertain Times
- CANNIBALIZE YOURSELF.
- DO AND GROW RICH
- Does Fear of Punishment Hold You Back?
- HOW TO GET MORE FOLLOWERS
- How to Innovate
- How to Build Your Own Empire
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO HARD WORK.
- PICK YOURSELF.
- OWN YOUR PLATFORM
- 10 KEYS TO SUCCESS
Table of Contents
Learn how to make a living from your passion:
- Preface. BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PHOTOGRAPHY
- Chapter 1. How to Create Value
- Chapter 2. ZEN CAPITALISM
- Chapter 3. Scarcity
- Chapter 4. How to Brand Yourself
- Chapter 5. How to Build a True Following
- Chapter 6. The Blueprint to Success in Photography
- Chapter 7. HOW TO BE BOLD
- Chapter 8. How to Sell Out
- Chapter 9. GO AGAINST THE GRAIN
- Chapter 10. EXTREME ABUNDANCE
- Chapter 11. Photography Experience Economy
- Chapter 12. Why You Should Make Money for Your Photography
- Chapter 13. How to Become a Famous Photographer
Photography Business 101
How to Make Money with Photography
- How to Charge More Money in Your Photography
- Why You Should Not Pursue Photography as Career
- Can Photography Make You Rich?
- How I Earn $200,000+ a Year From Photography
- How to earn $10,000 a month as a photographer
- Why you must be an expensive photographer
Photography Marketing 101
- Why Have More Followers?
- Why You Should Do Photography Work For Free
- How I Became an Internet Famous Photographer
- Photography Blogging Ideas
- Why You Should Promote Your Own Name
- How to Build a Following
- How to Stand Out as a Photographer.
- HOW TO GO VIRAL AS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
- How to Master Marketing
- How to Sell Yourself
How to Hustle.
- Entrepreneurial Advice to My 18 Year Old Self
- How to Become Insanely Productive.
- 5 Lessons From Hesiod on Hustling
- It is Better to Beg For Forgiveness Than Ask For Permission
- The Free Way to Become Rich
- JUST DO IT.
- 7 Steps: How to Make a Living From Your Passion
- How to Do What You Love for a Living
- How to Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- How to Fail Big
- How to Invest in Yourself
- How to Be Bold in Photography and Life
- Mission: Cover Your Rent and Food
- 1,000 True Fans
- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
- Make More Value Not Money
- We Live in a Photo Utopia
How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
- Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers
- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
- How to Brand Yourself as a Photographer
- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
- How to become rich from photography blogging
- How to Make a Living with Blogging
- 50 Blogging Tips For Beginners
- How to Start Your Own Photography Blog
- A Photographer’s Guide to SEO, Blogging, and Social Media
How to Teach Photography
- How to Become a Photography Teacher
- How to Teach a Street Photography Class
- Why I Teach Street Photography Workshops
- Why I Deleted My Instagram
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
- Why Do You Need More Likes or Followers?
- Instagram is Going to Be the Next Facebook
- Don’t Trust “Free” Photography Social Networks