Some free things aren’t free when you have money.

Girl Ninja and I were hanging out with a bunch of high school kids the other night at Young Life, when I started talking with one of the Junior guys about some of his photography shots I’ve seen him share on social media.

As we talked about our mutual love for nice lenses and photography, he said something to the effect of “I would love to take pictures of Baby Ninja and your family to help build my portfolio”.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. 

Say what? 

– You are offering to take free pictures of my family. 

– With your $3,000 camera and $1,500 lens? 

– And this will finally keep Girl Ninja from nagging me about getting family photos? 

– And you are actually good at photography? 

HECK to the YES I’m interested.

So last Monday, this high school kid came to our adorable little city on the Puget Sound and took a bunch of pics for us. Here are a few of those shots.


Baby Ninja is always so stoic…

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Except for when he is not…

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He’s got crawling down…

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And standing…

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at Mar 12, 2015, 9.47.10 PM

But he’s still a little cautious of shoulder rides…

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But he’s definitely not scared of Nova…

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And just for kicks, here is an action shot of Nova…

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He gave us about 50 shots in all and we couldn’t be more thrilled, but we do feel a little bad.

In his mind we helped him out by giving him some shots to add to his portfolio which is cool and all. But it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out why he wants to build his portfolio.

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So he can start charging people to take pictures of them.

Isn’t that exactly what he did for us? Why shouldn’t WE pay him then?

Can you imagine how excited he will be to get a nice “Thank You” card containing two crisp $50 bills?

I can’t wait to see him at Young Life this next Monday and surprise him.

It’s things like this that make me SOOOOOO thankful we have our financial crap together. Without thinking twice, Girl Ninja and I can give what seems like a relatively insignificant amount to us, $100, to a high school kid and he is going to be so pumped he just got paid ONE HUNDRED FREAKING DOLLARS for doing something he loves. How is that not a win-win situation?

Moral of the story: Get your financial crap together so you can joyfully give people some of your money. 

12 thoughts on “Some free things aren’t free when you have money.”

  1. Those are beautiful photos! That kid definitely has a future as a photographer! Love the doggie action shot. And, that’s really kind of you to pay him–he’s going to be over the moon. That’s absolutely an advantage of being in a stable financial position!

  2. Kudos to you for deciding to pay him! Those are great pictures and Baby Ninja is a sweetheart. I like you guys for being so level-headed and kind.

  3. Some of the shots appear better-composed to me than others (Baby and Dog with both in the same profile looking like very wise old friends is especially good; Ninja and Dog looks like it was just thrown together, and though I like Baby’s expression in the first picture I don’t see the brick wall as contributing anything). But I much prefer the spontaneity of these pictures to the artificial crap you see from the professional picture studios. Your gift of $100 is very fair.

  4. Depending on how well you know this kid, I’d say you could give him a VERY valuable lesson in properly valuing his own work/worth. I know he wants to build a portfolio, but you can do that by offering DISCOUNTED sessions, not free ones (although kudos to you for paying him anyways). And he clearly has talent, so he should start learning exactly what his skills are worth out there….plenty of people will take a risk on a new photographer if the discount is enough (in other words, he doesn’t need to work for free just yet).

    • The progression is usually work for free, then start charging people. Having people pay him when he hasn’t even charged them will help him to determine his worth so that when he’s ready to charge, he has an idea where to start.

      These pics turned out great, but he may still need experience and practice before he’s ready to charge. I do think Ninja’s gift will help him to get there though.

  5. The shots look great – and keeping the wife happy is PRICELESS.

    That was nice of y’all to make his week by paying him anyway. Who knows, this might be enough to really boost his entrepreneurial efforts. That$100 might provide the motivation to really pursue his passion as a viable business.

  6. Our daughter (age 20) started taking photos in high school for fun, then worked at a summer camp as their photographer when she was 18 and now is a freelance photographer while in college….so it’s a great path for your young friend…..and what a nice way to show him how to get started by paying him unexpectedly!

    Beautiful photos and family! I love hearing about your youth group activities – I bet they love you and girl ninja and baby ninja and doggie ninja!

  7. Here is another way this kid can make some money and get portfolio pictures. Tell him to contact a dog or cat rescue, and offer to give people who have adopted pets from them a “Half-off Rescue Deal”. We did this through the rescue we adopted from. We paid the photographer $100 dollars just for the photo session at local park. For that we got two digital photos for free and could order the others at the standard price.
    The photographer got pictures for his portfolio, we got pictures of our family (which is us and the dogs) for the holiday cards for only $100, and they were about 1,000x better than what we can point and shoot.
    People will spend $$$$ on their pets. Ask me how I know.

    I love being able to donate money to causes I care about. It’s one of the reasons I feel RICH, even though I think I would not qualify as rich on whatever scale most people use. I have SO MUCH, so much that all my needs and many of my wants are covered, that when I want to support a cause, or just give money away, I can. Last year some folks came to our church and gave a talk about how they are helping homeless people in our city, and I wrote the director of the shelter a check for $200 without thinking too much about it. It feels great to be able to do that.

  8. Love this way of paying it forward! At Cinch, we’re trying to help you save that extra $100 or so from some of your biggest bills, so you hardly have to lift a finger and then can “get your crap together” so you can start sharing the wealth!

    Cinch Financial

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