What is the definition of a professional wildlife photographer?

Started Aug 29, 2013 | Discussions
oklaphotog
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Re: What is the definition of a professional wildlife photographer?
In reply to garyknrd, Aug 30, 2013

garyknrd wrote:

What does it take to be a professional wildlife photographer?

A picture that makes it to a top wildlife magazine?

Someone that sells a pic or an article about wildlife?

Kinda curious what the professional photographers here think the definition is?

Presently living in Asia

Generally, it is considered that someone who makes their living from photography (75-100% of their income) is a professional.

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antoineb
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a "professional" makes most of his/her income from a given pursuit
In reply to garyknrd, Aug 31, 2013

garyknrd wrote:

What does it take to be a professional wildlife photographer?

A picture that makes it to a top wildlife magazine?

Someone that sells a pic or an article about wildlife?

Kinda curious what the professional photographers here think the definition is?

Presently living in Asia

Photography is no different than any other pursuit as per the definition of what defines a professional:  it is someone who makes most of her/his income, from photography.  Which has obvious implications about solid quality and reliability of work, ability to deliver in most circumstances, a network to sell enough images into, and a reputation for these images to sell at high enough prices that one makes an actual income.

A big difference between photography and many other pursuits, is that many professions actually require you to have a diploma of some sort.  Whether you are a physician not to mention a surgeon, a builder, an architect, a nurse, a plumber, you name it.  Photography is quite unique in this, that there is no standard diploma, nor is any diploma generally required.

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Toccata47
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Getting paid...
In reply to garyknrd, Aug 31, 2013

Making your living from making photos.

garyknrd wrote:

What does it take to be a professional wildlife photographer?

A picture that makes it to a top wildlife magazine?

Someone that sells a pic or an article about wildlife?

Kinda curious what the professional photographers here think the definition is?

Presently living in Asia

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Detail Man
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Re: What is the definition of a professional wildlife photographer ?
In reply to Detail Man, Aug 31, 2013

Detail Man wrote:

(Seems to me that) actually being "wildlife" would be the closest fit. If such a creature sports a Rolex watch, we might assume also assume that (at least some) "profession" may be involved ...

Yes, you may make a living from photography, but who among them can match the real deal ?

Source: http://blogs.reuters.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/monkey12.jpg

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teseg
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Re: Professional or For-Income?
In reply to Zee Char, Aug 31, 2013

Agreed.  A professional in any industry is much more than being about making a paycheck.  That individual must embody that profession and maintain a certain level of professional decorum, skill and ethics.

I know plenty of people  working in various jobs I  would sooner describe as a 2 bit hack than a professional.

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Leon Wittwer
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Re: Here's my take...
In reply to garyknrd, Aug 31, 2013

At some point, a professional photographer still has to take some good shots and publish/sell them.  The workshops, etc. come mostly after the reputation gained from doing good photography, promotion, contacts, bits of luck, etc.  It does seem to me that workshops, etc have become more necessary for many pros to make a good living.  The selling side alone does not seem to quite do it (any more).

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happysnapper64
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Re: Professional is one who is earning a living.
In reply to Zee Char, Aug 31, 2013

Zee Char wrote:

Apewithacamera wrote:

Just to add. There are a lot of roofing companies in our city. A person can be fired from 12 different companies because they are just not good at what they do, That person can go to Home Depot and buy a hammer, start a company and put an ad out in the paper. Now that person is a professional but it does not mean his company is qualified and can produce consistent quality work.

The word "professional" has another meaning, like in "professional misconduct" etc. It concerns living up to certain standards that befit someone who charges a rate for his/her services. There is an expected standard that one who calls themselves a "professional" should live up to. Just being paid, is not the absolute meaning of "professional"

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David Rosser
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Re: What is the definition of a professional wildlife photographer?
In reply to garyknrd, Aug 31, 2013

Obviously as has been said many times making your living by that pursuit.  However in the case of wildlife photography the photography part is a given, the skill is in understanding your subject, knowing where to be and when to be there to get that extra special picture that the tourist however skillful and well equipped just cannot achieve.

A few years ago I encountered what might be termed the three stages of wildlife photographer

1) Amateur - me staying at a lodge in a remote area of Botswana for three days and taking pictures on game drives.

2) Semi-pro with all the gear - staying at the same lodge but for 2 or 3 weeks, photographing from game drives but also sitting in hides near waterholes all day etc.  Goes home and sells pictures to magazines that he has links with but this only really pays for his annual Africa trip and for his gear.

3) Real pro - In the same area but living from a fully equipped Land Rover for 6 months following one pride of Lions but also photographing other wildlife like Wild Dogs. They (husband and wife team) also employ local trackers.  Did I say the semi-pro had all the gear? This pro team had 3 or 4 top Nikon bodies and a full set of the long exotic lenses.  Their Land Rover was equipped with special Camera mounts bolted to the bodywork.  Having spent 6 months in the field they then spend the half of the year when not photographing selling, knocking on doors and no doubt lecturing.

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TrapperJohn
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In reply to garyknrd, Aug 31, 2013

The number of people who make a living photographing wildlife is very small. Many work for NatGeo, more or less the Mt Everest of non news professional photography. You have to be very good, with an exensive portfolio, and in the right place at the right time to get a job like that.

Sporting/hunting publications do buy wildlife photos, but most of that is freelance.

What a perfect job that would be... fly around the world and capture wildlife...

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