So does that make me a "professional"?
where there’s smoke there’s forum fire
Although I studied still photography in college, I'm now a "professional" television cameraguy (yes, they actually pay me!). In video production, we traditionally have had three broad "categories." All of those working in the industry are professionals, in the sense that they are getting paid to shoot, but they shoot in different segments of the market:
3. Event (weddings, etc.).
In still photography, I see the gamut in my job:
1. Commercial/advertising/PR (people that often work under the direction of an art director).
2. Magazine photographers (those who shoot for national magazine covers and editorial spreads, etc.).
3. Photojournalists (those who shoot for major newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times).
4. Agency photographers (those who shoot on assignment for major wire services (AP, Getty/WireImage, Corbus, etc.).
7. Event (weddings, etc.).
Near the top of the day rates are those photographers that shoot A-list celebrities for national magazine covers. These guys make serious money: I believe between $2,000-$7,000/day. While most specialize in a particular field, some photographers also wear different hats at different times:
I used to hire a photographer to shoot brochures for a company I used to work at, so when I hired him, he was a "corporate/industrial" photographer at $1,200/day for medium-format and 4x5. But when not shooting for us, he shot all of the fashion newspaper ads for a major department store for about $2,500/day.
An agency photographer I know, who mostly shoots celebrity events, also shoots weddings. For weddings, his "day rate" starts at about $20,000 (he only shoots rich people's weddings). He shoots "arty" candids on a Leica (he's a Leica beta-tester as well), while two of his assistant photographers shoot the formal stuff on Hasselblads.
Most of my friends are agency photographers. The main difference between agency photographers and paparazzi, is that the agency guys are invited by the event. Paparazzi are not. I think most agency shooters make between $50K-$100K+, depending on how much they work. Paparazzi can make anything from nothing, to several hundred a day, depending on who they get. Get a shot of an A-list celebrity's first baby or something, then it can go into six- or seven-figures for a single shot.
Yes, anyone who gets paid to shoot is a professional, but there are many market segments, and many niche markets amid those segments, all of which get served by a wide variety of skill sets, at a wide variety of day rates.
Canon fanboys just have to purchase a white lens. Then they become a "Pro". LOL
I actually think this is a valid question. Sure, the brass-tacks definition of a "professional," is someone who gets paid. But, in the context of the OP's original query, I would venture to define a "professional" as someone who practices their craft at a level of competency at about the same level of their presumed peers in that industry. Using this definition, the title then becomes "market-administered."
Meaning, that, in just about any work environment or freelance market, your competency will be compared with the past performance of your presumed peer group in that field. If your competency isn't observed to be at a certain baseline level, you won't be competitive, and you won't garner any clients. You won't be considered "professional." However, if your skill set is acknowledged to be comparable to other professionals in that field, you will then generally be regarded as a "professional."
One thing that I think is interesting here is that nobody's really brought up the flip side of the "professional" thing. An amateur (digging deep into my high school Latin, which is rusty from not having been used in a couple of decades :) ), by definition, is someone who's doing something for the love of it. Not to get all philosophical and stuff, but whether or not you get paid for it, the joy you derive from it should always be somewhere in your work.
It's a good point, ASD. Those terms shouldn't be mutually exclusive.
I have derived much of my living in agriculture, either as a farmer or a scientist. Photography is to me a crucial part of documentation, appreciation, and sure is a fast way to take notes. I do list my self as a professional photographer but it is quite secondary to me as just our way of life. Most of my clients don't know about me until the see the images. Todays client is the son of the VP for the biggest photo business in the USA. But I take photos because I feel it is one form of expressing my appreciation for the beautiful world we live in and sometimes environments that are threatened. I have owned many thousands of dollars in camera gear. Have I used it to its fullest potential? No! Have I helped others to learn how to help capture images important to them? Yes.! I also follow Nikon Rumors as when I buy new photo gear I need to invest wisely in cameras and lens that will stand the test of time. I do know one of my first photos taken with a Kodak Instamatic 110 camera was of a woodchuck in a tree. It is still a pretty photo and has a message to many who see it. I felt bonded to him and he certainly looked safe in the tree and happy to have all that good foot to munch on. Photography at its best to me is being able to relive precious moments. I took four years of latin and actually gained much from it. If I am an amateur at least I have to admit I do photograph for the love of it! I have had Chevy Corvette (which was my own car) 3ft.x 9ft. images at the International photo show on in ads for one big photo lab. I guess I always think each time I pick up a camera........I need a picture of this. I would hate to have an editor make my decisions for directing much of my photo work. I believe William Henry Jackson said he photographed best when he just wanted to share a scene with others that took his own breath away and that he thought seemed like it should last forever.
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professional, only source of income is photography
professional, only source of income is photography
Good one, Picturepro!
A finer definition (kinda like the IRS version for "business use" of say, a home office) is if you garner 50% or more of your income from it. However, I believe there is a another category: "artist." And that may address ASD's thoughtful post. My best friend is another "professional" television camera operator, but shoots stills as "art," and while he has had a number of gallery showings, he certainly doesn't derive more than 50% of his annual income from still photography. That said, convincing a gallery in a major metropolitan area (e.g., Santa Monica) to show your work, I think would likely fall outside the category of "amateur."
The "dictionary.com" defintion of a "professional" is pretty straight forwards "Following an occupation as a means of livelihood..." A professional, photographer takes photos in order to cover living expenses. In contrast the word "amature" is defined at "dictionary.com" as "a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons." That being said, being a "professional" or "amature" is a non restricting statue. There are other terms to discribe photographers, such as "master" which "dictionary.com" defines as "...a person who has been awarded a master's degree." As far as degrees of skill are concerned "Novice" is defined at "dictionary.com" as "a person who is new to the circumstances...", "Intermediate" is defined as "being, situated, or acting between two points...", and "Expert" is defined as "a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field...". I don't mean to be overly pedantic, but I know I'm not the only one who cringes when someone smuggly says "I'm a professional" when in all reality they haven't sold a picture in their lives. Personally I consider my self an aspireing novice. I've learnt that there is much more to learn when it comes to the art that we shair, and appreciate.
This might be somewhat off-topic, but I didn't want to clog the forum with a new thread; it's related to what we're talking about here. What do y'all think is the role of ego in photography?
I think that there's some amount of ego involved in doing pretty much anything creative, because the moment you press the shutter, or pick up a paintbrush, microphone, guitar or whatever your weapon of choice is, you're saying that you're adding something to the world that someone else will want to see. I'll grant that not everybody does this for the sake of money or fame. But I don't think that anyone does it for the sake of obscurity either; it's an essentially social activity.
Let's keep this thread on-topic please. Next time if you don't "want to clog the forum with a new thread" then use this thread instead:
only source of livelihood is photography = PRO.
whenever clients ask, I clarify and tell them I'm semi-pro - I have a day job, I don't have the volume of clients to be pro (although would love to leave my desk job for something like a pro staff photog). . .
If someone pays you to take photographs - you're a professional. If not - you're an amateur. That's the fundamental definition of professional/amateur.
Strictly speaking, MOST of your income should come from photography to be classed as a professional.
Professional does not necessarily equal talented; simply an ability to deliver photos to the standard that the payer wants
I think confusion here can be around Professional vs. professionalism and Amateur vs amateurish.
Some people who may make their sole income from photography are very amateurish in their work and interactions. Some Amateurs can show professionalism in how they work.
I am strictly a hobbyist, but if asked to shot for some group I am to display professionalism in my work and demeanor. I think that is where many get confused.
I can't believe this thread is at three pages already and people are still giving different definitions!
Amateurs all of you!!! ;^P
YOUR MOM'S AN AMATEUR!! ;-P
Show some professionalism guys! 8-)
Don't worry ma'am, I'm a professional and I know what I'm doing... now let's take this top off.
I have always said a professional is someone that can get "the photo" on a consistant basis. Someone that has spent the time to learn the trade enough to be able to get what they want out of their camera. If your paid or not you can be a professional. Your just a paid professional. My 2 cents.
I found this picture on google
How to get a strap
What makes a professional photographer for me is someone who makes money out of their photography, and is a "professional" in terms of their skill in using the camera.
Of course, there are some "professional" photographers who have less expertise than amateur photographers, but that's another story.
I think the problem is people are labeling someone a "PRO" because of one quality. I disagree. Here is what I think makes a true PRO:
1) Professional Level Equipment
2) Professional Education
3) Professional Experience
4) Professional Income
5) Professional Quality
Ex 1: I give my 7 year old a D3X and an 85mm f/1.4 for his birthday. He has never used a camera before, but now he has PRO equipment. Does this make him a PRO now based on his equipment? NO.
Ex 2: I take PRO classes, and have never taken a picture in my life before. I get a degree, and yet manage to go through not taking a picture, just learning how Aperture and Shutter work, and composition. But yet without actually doing it, am I a PRO? NO.
Ex 3: This is a tough one, and can be interchanged with #2, but I look at it like a resume for a job when hiring someone . . . let's just say someone straight out of school, but no experience, are they a PRO just because they have a job in the Photog industry? NO.
Ex 4: I take some snapshots on a disposable camera of a party, and someone gives me $5.00 for a set of prints. I just made some money off my photography, am I now a PRO? NO.
Ex 5: Same disposable camera, but the pictures had awesome composition and the f/22 plastic lens got everything in focus, I must be a PRO. NO.
To me it is a combination of everything. You can call someone a "Photographer with Professional Equipment", but keep in mind, the equipment is PRO, not the photographer . . . if I have enough money I can buy an F1 car . . . does that make me a Pro Race Car Driver? No. The car is PRO level, driver is not. Drivers need education, and real world experience . . . .
I have seen so called "PRO" photogs shooting crap pictures, but they call themselves PRO because they think that all they need is to make a living at it, and that makes them a PRO, when it does not. A Plumber must go through certifications and pass an exam to be a Master Plumber . . . a lawyer has to go through Law School and pass the Bar, Doctors have their own hurdles too . . .
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