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Asset vs. Investment. How Understanding the Difference will POWER your Studio

A lot of professional photographers misunderstand the word “INVESTMENT.”

When you buy a new lens… a new set of lights. A new camera… Photographers are quick to note that it is an INVESTMENT.

But is it? No. It’s an ASSET.

What’s the difference?

When you buy a car – that car is an asset to you. Granted that car depreciates in value as soon as you buy it. But if you buy a $20,000 car for cash… does your NET WORTH go up by $20,000? No. Because you had $20,000 and you exchanged it for an item worth $20,000.

It’s an asset – and granted you need that. You need a good car. And we as photographer need nice equipment.

However… knowing the difference between an asset and an investment is key to powering up your studio.

For starters… the difference between an Asset and an Investment as it relates to Pro Photographers:

When you buy a $2,000 camera… you now own something tangible. And yes – it’s absolutely necessary.

However it’s like a car. It’s something you need. But it’s not an investment.

It doesn’t appreciate in value. It doesn’t EARN you money.

A better analogy is this

If you buy a Horse… Is it an asset or an investment?

It’s actually both – depending.

If you buy a horse – yes. The horse is an asset. If you bought the horse for $5,000. And now you have an animal worth $5,000. That is an asset.

The difference is – if you have $5,000 and you bought tickets to the Super Bowl. You spent $5,000 – but now you have $5,000 less. Granted – you’ll have a blast – but your net worth is now reduced by $5,000.

So yes – a horse is an asset. You spent $5,000 and now you have a $5,000 asset.

However – if you buy a Race Horse… the Race Horse might be bought for $30,000 – but it can be considered an INVESTMENT. Why? Because with a little work – that $30,000 race horse can make you money. It can win races and suddenly your $30,000 investment brings you $100,000 in winnings.

Here’s where all the confusion comes about with Pro Photographers.

This time of year – in January – photographer are thinking about their investments.

And what happens is they confuse their camera purchases as “investments.”

Granted? You NEED to buy new equipment

Do you need to buy a new lens this year? You should.

Do need to buy a new flash? You should.

But don’t confuse them as investments.

Yes… it’s easy to argue that when you buy that new lens that it’s generating income because you need it to make money.

VALID argument. But it’s not an investment.

Here is true photographic investment: MY Portfolio. YOUR portfolio. Your “body of work” that is nicely displayed.

This time of year – I spend $1,000 and create two or three new portfolios.

These are TRUE investments.

Because I take my best pictures and put them in an album to show off.

I’m not only paying for the actual sample albums (or portfolios) – but I’m taking the time to find my best work and organize them.

But this is why it’s a real investment.

Because each $350 album – has the investment potential to bring me literally thousands of dollars in new wedding contracts.

Now is the time to invest. Invest in high quality albums and show pieces. Your clients will see these and they will want Invest in high quality show -pieces and then see how your photo business grows.

This is a missed step in with most photographers.

Most pro photographer’s business model looks like this:

Work – Buy Assets – Work – Buy Assets.

This is what we call the rat race.

You work. You do your shoots. And then you buy stuff. You buy new equipment (necessary by the way) or you buy stuff for yourself – cars, home goods, etc.

This is a better business model:

Work – Invest that Income – Buy Assets – Work – Invest that Income – Buy Assets

To be honest – I think that’s why there are so many “here today and gone tomorrow” photo businesses.

Because they work their photo jobs, make money and then buy stuff. But they aren’t investing.

But they then say… “What? I invested! Look at this camera! Look at this lens. I invested!!!!”

And that’s all well and good. But you bought an asset. You didn’t invest.

Take time to buy investments.

Yes – I’m suggesting a nice new show album. Yes – I use Black River Imaging for my show pieces.

Use whomever you want. It’s all good. The point is – take some of your hard-earned money and invest it in pieces that will attract new clients.

Don’t skip that step.

Finally – let me share with you a funny story.

I have a photographer friend that made a move from one State to another.

In the process of the move – someone stole her camera equipment.

But because she was short of cash – she was down to her last $2,000.

Here is where her wisdom came in.

Ask yourself – what would YOU do if you were down to your last $2,000 with no jobs booked?

Some people would say – “Hey… invest in a camera.”

She invested – but it wasn’t on a camera…

She took that $2,000 and invested in two bridal shows and her show pieces.

Isn’t that crazy? She did a bridal show and she didn’t even have a camera!

But she knew that if she invested on her portfol­­­io and bridal shows  – that her investment would bring her money to -in turn: Buy her the equipment she needed to do the wedding.

I get it – gutsy. But at the same time – where would she be if she just bought the camera???

Thank you everyone for your time!







 A useful or valuable thing, person, or quality: “quick reflexes were his chief asset”.





Expend money with the expectation of achieving a profit or material result by putting it into financial schemes, shares, or property.



About Gene Ho

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