Coming Soon: How Two Surf Photographers Became Multi-Millionaires - Stab Mag

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Captivating minds beyond the surf world does help. Here's one of Morgan Maassen's images, as seen in a Corona x Parley installation in 2018. Photo supplied by Morgan

Coming Soon: How Two Surf Photographers Became Multi-Millionaires

Personal failures, crushed dreams, 3 AM panic attacks, and more.

premium // Sep 22, 2021
Words by Brendan Buckley
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Stab is a surf-based media platform. 

We think of clever ideas, then we put in the work and turn them into videos. We run surf events. We share surf news and opinions. We tell the stories of the most fascinating people and happenings in our world. We do not normally talk about personal finance. We will talk about personal finance today. 

In the first edition of My First Million, Ryan Miller and Morgan Maassen explored the financial side of a Tahitian uber-swell and how it relates to the current state of surf photography. To refresh, both of them are surf photographers who became multi-millionaires. In this edition — which will be broken into two parts, one focused on each individual — they will explain how they did it. 

I’m sure some of you will be skeptical. This is a step away from Stab’s norm, and not everything is for everyone. Maybe it’s not for you. You might even think it has no place in surfing. Surfers are rebels, renegades, people who raise middle fingers to the system instead of pumping money into it. What would Miki Dora do, etc. 

To that, I’d respond: 

There’s something to be said about hosting this conversation here, about exposing people to information and ideas they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise. Miller and Maassen both shared some deeply personal details when laying it all out there for us — from personal failures, crushed dreams, 3 AM panic attacks, and more. So I will too, in my own little way. 

I do not currently have a single dollar invested. No stocks, no IRAs, no real estate, nothing. Reading their stories made me feel stupid — in the best possible way. The primal type of stupid that you learn from, that spurt of shame that motivates you to change your behavior. 

My parents never invested any money. None of my close friends talk about this, at least not with me. In the past, nothing has pushed me to learn anything about the world of finance. I would imagine many of you could say the same. I would also imagine that some of you will walk away from this with a new perspective. 

And why does that matter? 

The reason is simple, at least in my eyes: The more you financial freedom you have, the more time you can spend surfing.

Lastly, aside from the financial savvy you may glean from these articles, they’re fascinating stories in their own right. Both of these individuals used money made from taking photographs of people surfing — an endangered career, if there ever was one — to set themselves up for life. That is inspiring. 

Keep an eye out for Miller’s piece publishing tomorrow, then Morgan’s on Friday. 


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