I Almost Didn’t Get A $30 Photoshoot Because It Was Too Expensive

How “living the moment” can sometimes take its toll.

I Almost Didn’t Get A $30 Photoshoot Because It Was Too Expensive
Image by the author from the $30 photoshoot in Bali.

How “living the moment” can sometimes take its toll.

$30 might not buy you much in the US. But for $30 in India, I can get:

  • A good dinner at a fancy restaurant. 
  • A room in a nice resort in the city outskirts.
  • 2 weeks’ worth groceries.
  • 4 hours’ worth of pole dance classes.

I could go on, but you get the gist. In Asian countries, $30 is valuable. That’s why when I was faced with the possibility of getting pretty swing photographs for $30 in Bali, I almost said no.

In my head, my logic was clear: I’d get a few good pictures, and I mostly never share personal photos on socials. So what’s the point spending so much money for this? I’d rather eat more and better for this money some other time.

I shared this thought process with my partner, and he told me, “No!”

Usually, I’m the one without any expense control in our relationship. His reply confused me. When I asked him to elaborate more, he told me I’d be in Bali only once. The swing photographs might not end up on my socials, but they’ll be imprinted in my brain for good.

The tipping point that made me shed my inhibitions and go for the $30 photoshoot were his words, “You’ll have fun.”

The best moments of my life have always been based off impulsive decisions. I decided to make this one.

I was in Bali a few weeks ago for my first international solo trip. The exchange rate over there is crazy. 1 Indian Rupee is equal to 191.5 Indonesian Rupiahs. This alone convinced me I could buy a ton of stuff in Indonesia with the limited money I took with me.

But boy, was I in for a culture shock when I landed!

The prices, even when converted to INR, were high. Simple things like a cup of coffee or a bottle of water costed almost 3x of what they’d cost in India at similar shops. Just by hiring a porter at the airport and getting myself a sim card, I’d spent the total daily budget I’d set for myself before embarking on this vacation.

This wasn’t made easy because I was in Bali to attend a pole dance retreat organized by a Danish lady. The 15 other women who attended the retreat were either from the US, Australia, or some European country. For them, everything was insanely cheap, and they kept commenting all the time how they were barely spending any money while getting such quality products and services.

For me, it was all about not spending too much so I could complete the trip within the budget I’d previously anticipated. I mentally counted my expenses each time I paid for something. I kept calculating how much I’ve left of the money I’d taken with me. 

In such a situation, spending $30 for a “luxury” buy like swing photographs felt like a stretch. I’m sure you can understand why I was hesitant to go ahead.

The moment my partner told me to have fun, it was almost as if a switch flipped in my head. I knew I was taking a risk by going for this photoshoot. I deserved to have all the fun I could from this experience.

And so, I threw myself into it.

Right from picking out the outfit to posing on the swing and laughing with the ladies from the pole retreat, I made sure to be present and intentional about everything I did.

I selected red because that’s a color that’s always complimented my skin tone. I posed on every swing available, and even though I was terrified of swinging across the rice fields, I asked the team to give me a push.

It was exhilarating, and I laughed so much, my cheeks ached. I even suggested all the ladies who opted for the photoshoot to come together for a group picture.

Group photograph by the author from the $30 photoshoot in Bali.

The adrenaline rush from this beautiful photoshoot won’t last forever, but the memories will. 

I learned from this experience that sometimes, your middle class mindset might ask you to be cautious about spending.

But some experiences are worth going over your budget for.

Especially if it’s an experience you can only have once in your lifetime, the money aspect shouldn’t stop you from going for it.

I usually never worried about money, but vacations can be stressful if you’re taking a break. I started my solopreneurial journey with much excitement. But things slowed down after a while when I started feeling the burnout. I wanted to take a break from client work and only focus on creating the kind of content I love and feel passionate about.

Doing this can take a toll on your bank balance, especially if you haven’t sent an invoice in two months.

The trip happened at the worst possible time, financially. But mentally, it was the break I needed and deserved.

I’ve come back to India with a heart full of memories and a notebook full of stories to share. This is the first in a series of unique experiences I had in Bali that I’m going to write about in the following weeks.

TL;DR: It can be difficult for people from third-world countries to travel with Americans and Europeans. But if you budget well, plan ahead, and decide to live in the moment, no one can stop you from having the best time of your life.

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