June 7

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Do What You Love. (And The Money Will Follow)

By Dan

June 7, 2016


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About 25 years ago, I read a little book called “The Seven Laws of Money” by Michael Phillips, and it had a profound impact on me.

I don’t usually get into self-help type books, but this one really struck a chord in me. I read it right around the time I went to Nepal with Galen Rowell as an aspiring professional photographer, and  I still live my life according to the insight I gained from this brilliant little 130-page manual.

The first law of the book is based on the whole “Do what you love, and the money will follow” concept. The actual title of the chapter is “Do it! Money Will Come When You’re Doing The Right Thing,”

Now we’ve all heard that saying many times, but it’s important to understand what it really means, and how it can affect your life. First, however, let’s quickly establish what it doesn’t mean.

Just doing what you love isn’t an automatic recipe for getting rich, or finding success. This rings so true especially with photography and any creative idea, but that’s not why we do these things. In fact, if you enter any creative or propreneurial venture with preconceived notions about money or income, then you’re not doing it right.

The whole concept behind being a propreneur vs, an entrepreneur, is that you end goal is not to make money, it’s to spend your life doing what you enjoy, and this, according to the first law in Michael Phillips’ book, is the key to success.

Aerial photos of the Chugach Mountains, near the top of Colony Glacier area shot at sunset. Alaska

“Do what you love and the money will follow,” basically says that money will come when you are doing the right thing. What is the right thing? It’s the thing that you love to do, and the craft, skill or area of knowledge that you’re willing to put in whatever time and energy are necessary in order to perfect.

The notion behind “Do What You Love” is about focusing almost all of your energies on your passion instead of worrying about the money. Sure, we all need money to survive, but if you truly have the passion and commitment to succeed at your skill, then you are likely to be resourceful enough to overcome whatever obstacles get thrown in your way.

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Let’s equate this to photography. If you’re smart enough to figure out all the technical aspects of composition, lighting, and are able to find models, master the intricacies of light and expertly operate your camera with confidence, chances are you’re smart enough to figure out how to bring in the necessary cash to keep you afloat along the way. You’ll also be driven to make your life be what you want it to be, which could mean living more frugally in order to make this all work.

Keep in mind, this isn’t really about making money, it’s about finding success, and that doesn’t necessarily have to mean you’re trying to making a living at your creative venture. If you truly love what you do, your passion and dedication will open doors for you in the world, and every new door leads to a new opportunity.

And more importantly, even if you didn’t make money at it, or find success, whatever that means, you’d still be doing this thing because you love it so much. That’s how you know it’s THE RIGHT THING.

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If you want to see a good example of this concept, check out the movie “Julie and Julia.” Based on a true story, the plot revolves around a young woman named Julie Powell who decides to follow her culinary passion by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s French cookbook and blogging about her experience as she goes along.

(Minor Spoiler Alert) The blog eventually gains a following and in the end she finds a certain level of success and recognition for her efforts. Of course, her road is not without a number of bumps and challenges, but that’s what makes everyones’ journey worth the effort, right?

They key here is that Julie didn’t set out to find success, she set out to complete a personal project she felt passionate about. She loved what she did, just as I love taking pictures. Sure, I make money at my craft, but when I find myself in the outdoors with my camera in my hand, money is that last thing I’m thinking about.

25 years later, my passion and drive for photography is still carrying me, and every year, I achieve a new level of success that has built on efforts that I made in the past. Nearly every aspect of my photography business revolves around carrying forth with an idea in the best way possible, and seeing where it takes me, and every day, I strive to be better at what I do, whether it’s shooting action photos, blogging about photography, or teaching workshops.

And it never ever feels like work.

Ultimately, success comes to those who are good at what they do. If you decide that photography is really what you want to do in life, even if it’s just your hobby and you have no intention of going pro, then focus on being the best photographer you can possibly be. Spend vast amounts of creative and intellectual energy honing your technical abilities, style and knowledge base about photography.

Most importantly, don’t worry about the money.. Be confident that you’ll figure out how to make ends meet. Worrying only saps energy that is better used for your photography. If you’re smart enough to be a self employed photographer, then you’re smart enough to figure out how to pay your bills.

Bottom line- if you pour your heart and soul into your photography, you’ll make the doors open yourself.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

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