This debate is likely as old as the chicken vs. egg question. Who decides whether or not a photographer is a professional? I know many amazing photographers who don’t attach the moniker to themselves. I also know of some self-professed ‘professionals’ whose work isn’t all that great.
So what is the criteria? Years of schooling? Lots of paid work? Grabbing a camera and calling yourself a pro?
Yes to all, I suppose. The case can be made for each one.
Personally, RyKie Photography contains many years of hands-on experience, paid work, public showings, extensive knowledge of editing software, an online presence, a studio, and access to high-quality printing services. Does that make ME a professional?
What it boils down to is this: if you are making money from something, then you are technically a professional in that field. However, this word seems to be lauded around too much – watering down or misdirecting the true meaning. Professional, amateur, hobbyist – whatever the title, can the person elicit quality images for you?
I sometimes see American Idol photogs out there. What the heck does that mean? Well, with the example of the popular show, it describes a person who thinks that standing in line for a few hours, belting out some tunes and appearing on TV makes them a fantastic singer. People close to them may also have built them up with positive comments, only to spare the person’s feelings. It isn’t until Simon berates them live on national television that the ‘star’ gets a hint of reality.
Same goes for the art of photography. There are some folks out there that think all you need is a camera and a Facebook page to qualify as a photographer. They may even call themselves ‘professionals’ to quantify why a client should hire them above others, many times offering a bargain basement price for their work. I’ve posted on the dangers of judging photographers based solely on price previously, so I won’t get into it here – just scroll down further!
Sure, it’s nice to have street cred, listing all the courses a photographer has taken. But if that knowledge is not applied, then how useful is it? The training centre is happy because they are a few bucks richer; of course they will pummel you with accolades – you’re paying them to do just that!
Would I call myself a ‘professional photographer’? Sure. I do make money from capturing images of clients. It’s a pretty dry definition, I prefer a more lofty and true-to-life description. Photography is an art. I would gladly wear the title of Artist over Professional any day of the week.
Except Mondays. Nobody likes those.