Know Your Worth… Money Ain't Everything

I haven’t blogged in A LONG TIME. Why do I always go through these lapses? My excuse this time… I’ve been hard at work building my portfolio and getting ready to launch my photography site. It’s about damn time.

It’s crazy where my life has been and where it’s led me to today. Never did I think I’d be a struggling artist. For the most part, I am not. I have my personal training to fall back on and that’s what I’ve done in order to continue shooting and pursuing my passions. If you asked my parents, they’d assuredly tell you that I was going to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. I was speechless when my mama told me that she supported my endeavors in photography. I was totally expecting her to be disappointed and angry that I wasn’t in a conventional 9-5 (or more like 7-7) career. She told me to do what makes me happy. Do you understand how refreshing and relieving that was for me to hear? A first generation Vietnamese-American male, the only son, and since my pops passed away, the assumed patriarch of my family. And for that to come from a traditional Vietnamese mother, an immigrant, a refugee, a three time prisoner of the Communist re-education camps and overall, one bad mutha… er, I mean mother (thank you mama for allowing me to pursue my passions in life without having to worry about disappointing anyone but myself).

I hated being a trainer when I was at UCLA and Equinox. I was around people who trained for the sake of money and not because they wanted to help those in need. So I gave it up when greener pastures came calling. Now here I am again, training. The difference now is that I am in love with it again. I’m in a private setting with my clients, no longer bothered by selfish, deceiving, and money hungry so-called trainers who care more about the dollars than their clients’ well-being. Obviously not all trainers are like this but I was around enough of them that it left a permanent bad taste in my mouth.

If you know what my training rates are, then you would probably say I’m a hypocrite when it comes to the money hungry part. I know I’m expensive… but like I’ve said before, I might be expensive but at least I care about you. I’m expensive because I know what I’m worth. I know what I can offer you. And if you’re willing to pay me what I’m worth then that means you value my knowledge and you value my work. It’s like someone who purchases a Ferrari… it’s expensive but they know what they’re getting. On top of that, it keeps you accountable to me and yourself. Do you really want to waste the money you spend on me? No, so you’re gonna come in and bust your ass. Are you gonna buy a Ferrari and trash it? No. If that’s how you operate, pay for a shitty trainer and go waste his time instead.

If I were indeed the money hungry trainer, I’d train any and every person that asked me to train them. But I don’t. I pick and choose my clients. If I interview you and your motivation and goals are not in line with my philosophies, then I don’t train you. Here’s a tip: if you want to train with me then your training goals should never include wanting to look like Megan Fox. Wrong motivation. I have one particular client that I am very proud of. She never speaks of how she looks or how much weight she’s lost. All she talks about is being able to keep up with her family when they go hiking. How she never gets left behind or how she never holds anyone back. She’s ecstatic that she’s now a part of the family again. That makes me happy and reinforces why I love training so much.

I’ve tried to apply the same mindset to my photography. As an artist, I’d like to get paid for what I’m worth but it’s much different than being a personal trainer. With art, it’s subjective for the most part. With training, the results are measurable. How do you do that with photography? I think that’s where your style comes into play. Developing a style that is unmistakably you. When you look at an Ansel Adams photo, you know exactly who took that photo. I’m currently in that stage of my development as a photographer. With digital cameras being so cheap, EVERYONE is a photographer these days. It’s gotten to a point where people have tried to get me to do photo shoots for next to nothing. How do I set myself apart and get them to value me as an artist and the work that I produce? I am in no way comparing myself to the great artists of our time but from a business stand point, I need clients to see me as the next Helmut or Annie and not just a kid with a camera. I think that’s the hardest part for me right now. At the same time, prospective clients need to understand the value of my work and why they approached me in the first place. Again, in no way am I comparing myself to the greats but you don’t go into an art gallery and offer pennies for a Picasso.

It’s so weird that I’m even writing about this cause I tell a good friend of mine all the time… if I could shoot and train everyone for free, that’s what I would do. These two things make me the most happy in life and I would be very grateful to be able to provide these services to people who genuinely need it but can’t afford it. In the meantime, I’ll have to continue charging what I do for my services and give back to the less fortunate as often as I can. But my ultimate goal is to be able to train and shoot for free and figure out how to monetize my life in other ways. I’ve made it easier by changing my lifestyle from one that required material possessions to be happy to a lifestyle which seeks and chases life experiences to be happy. That one little change means I don’t have to make as much money to keep up with the Joneses. I never plan on going back to work ever again as I’d rather struggle and be passionate about what I do than sit behind a desk all day. Like they say, love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Ps. Thanks Taryn for the photo. =)

show hide 5 comments

cindooboo - words to live by for reals — love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

great post my friend.

stephanie ~ paisley petunia - Well said, Quoc.

Randi - Quoc- you’re better than any Ferrari! ;)

I love the post- it’s so true, and I’m so proud of you!

Soul - OUTSTANDING post! This is exactly what I’m laser-focused on at the moment! My mission? Inspire a local to global grass roots movement to re-awaken an awareness that life is worth MORE than a buck! To help this along, I’ve published the ONE and ONLY book: “Pay Me What I’m Worth.” Everything you talk about here (and more) is covered in many ways. Yup – this book has .0001% to do with $$. It’s all about – “who are you” (do you know) and what are you called to do (care to find out)?

Awesome post once again!! Thanks for sharing this!!
Author / Speaker / Radio Show Host

Prosy Delacruz - Quoc, you made me cry. Okay, I am now more motivated than even. May I post this in my facebook, it is quite inspiring!

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