What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?

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fredphotog
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What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
10 months ago

We discuss it here, we see people say 'I am no Pro..', but these folks take darned good photos.

So what make a 'Pro' a 'Pro'?

It used to be if you made 50% or more of your income from a 'hobby' then you were considered a 'Pro'.

Some folks think if you are published then you are a 'Pro'.

I see people with $20,000 in equipment call themselves a 'Pro' but create crappy work.

So TODAY, what makes a 'Pro'?

To me, I think if you put thought into your exact equipment, you plan your shot(s), you take care in framing, exposure, color, background, and you spend time in PP coming up with a good photograph, then you are a 'Pro', after all, normal people just take a P-A-S and 'go click' without regard to anything about the camera or subject matter.

It used to be a 'Pro' had that title tied to money, but I see a lot of 'Pros' publish good work for little or no money, so that doesn't fit in the discussions we have here once in awhile.

I see a lot of folks premise a picture with 'I'm no Pro', but these folks are doing awesome work - some of it better than a lot of the 'Pros' I know that make a living at it.

Thoughts?

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fishywisht
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

Looks like you already confused yourself. You say that Professional meant earning from photography, then you move on to preferring a value judgment on their skills. This is just "worthy" vs. "non-worthy" photographers.

When you have to photograph things for other people rather than yourself, you often have to rely on technique rather than inspiration. An amateur can make himself look cool posting a couple of heavily worked photos a month, but that's not a work rate to rely on for earning money.

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Mike_PEAT
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It's your job (incl weekend wedding photogs), PERIOD!
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

You make regular money from it, you're a pro....you don't, you're an amateur.

Not saying pro is better...I know many amateurs who are better and more serious about photography than most of the pros I have met.

I used to be proud to say I wasn't a pro...but I got a job offer I couldn't refuse so now it's my day job.

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kafou
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

fredphotog wrote:

We discuss it here, we see people say 'I am no Pro..', but these folks take darned good photos.

So what make a 'Pro' a 'Pro'?

It used to be if you made 50% or more of your income from a 'hobby' then you were considered a 'Pro'.

Some folks think if you are published then you are a 'Pro'.

I see people with $20,000 in equipment call themselves a 'Pro' but create crappy work.

So TODAY, what makes a 'Pro'?

To me, I think if you put thought into your exact equipment, you plan your shot(s), you take care in framing, exposure, color, background, and you spend time in PP coming up with a good photograph, then you are a 'Pro', after all, normal people just take a P-A-S and 'go click' without regard to anything about the camera or subject matter.

It used to be a 'Pro' had that title tied to money, but I see a lot of 'Pros' publish good work for little or no money, so that doesn't fit in the discussions we have here once in awhile.

I see a lot of folks premise a picture with 'I'm no Pro', but these folks are doing awesome work - some of it better than a lot of the 'Pros' I know that make a living at it.

Thoughts?

You can compare that to hockey players. A lots of guys play hockey, some are good some are bad, some play for fun, some earn money to play hockey, these one are the only one that we can call "pro". You can say the same thing for many other activities where some people do it as a hobby and other as a living. We have to place a line between a hobby and a work and I think that that line come with: Do you do it to pay your bills or as a hobby.

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Jim Cassatt
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

I consider myself a "semi-pro".  That is I am retired with a good pension, so I don't have to do photography to make a living.  Rather I do it because it is fun, I meet interesting people and the little bit I charge pays for my equipment.

However, once someone pays you, you do have a responsibility not to screw up. That means having adequate equipment plus backup.  That means having sufficient technical skills to get the job done.  That means if your are doing portraits having the people skills to get a good picture even with camera shy people.

I enjoy the challenge.

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FrancoD
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

If you just use the full word ,professional, you then get the definition.

So ,anyone makes a living out of photography, is a "pro".

Nothing to do with personal ability. many amateur photographers can take better photos than some pro but they do it for fun or occasionally for some re numeration but not as a profession.

I can cook but I am not a Chef.

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Glenn NK
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Re: It's your job and it might be part time.
In reply to Mike_PEAT, 10 months ago

Mike_PEAT wrote:

You make regular money from it, you're a pro....you don't, you're an amateur.

Not saying pro is better...I know many amateurs who are better and more serious about photography than most of the pros I have met.

I used to be proud to say I wasn't a pro...but I got a job offer I couldn't refuse so now it's my day job.

What if you do photography and make regular money from it but have another part time job from which you earn more money?

I'm not picking an argument with you - rather I suggest that we could discuss this topic forever and never come to a definition or conclusion.  In short, the time would be better spent doing anything else - particularly photography even if we didn't earn any money from it.  There are so many lame topics on photo forums (not just this one) that it makes my head spin and my eyes water.

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René Schuster
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

fredphotog wrote:

We discuss it here, we see people say 'I am no Pro..', but these folks take darned good photos.

So what make a 'Pro' a 'Pro'?

It used to be if you made 50% or more of your income from a 'hobby' then you were considered a 'Pro'.

Some folks think if you are published then you are a 'Pro'.

I see people with $20,000 in equipment call themselves a 'Pro' but create crappy work.

So TODAY, what makes a 'Pro'?

To me, I think if you put thought into your exact equipment, you plan your shot(s), you take care in framing, exposure, color, background, and you spend time in PP coming up with a good photograph, then you are a 'Pro', after all, normal people just take a P-A-S and 'go click' without regard to anything about the camera or subject matter.

It used to be a 'Pro' had that title tied to money, but I see a lot of 'Pros' publish good work for little or no money, so that doesn't fit in the discussions we have here once in awhile.

I see a lot of folks premise a picture with 'I'm no Pro', but these folks are doing awesome work - some of it better than a lot of the 'Pros' I know that make a living at it.

Thoughts?

It depends on the country where you ask your question.

In Germany, being a "pro", no matter in what field, is always about school and education, apprentice, master, diploma, etc.

I can be a pro photographer without making a single dollar in that profession, but I can not call myself a pro photographer, no matter how much money I can make as a photographer, if I don't have the appropriate diploma. I could imagine the chamber of commerce would cause me a lot of trouble if I would call myself a photographer without actually being one.

One of the girls at work, a very good secretary, is actually not a secretary but a pro photographer. Even if my pictures are just as good, she is the photographer, the pro, I am not a photographer. I take pictures, my hobby is photography, but I am not a photographer.

RS

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ABA DABA
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

There are many definitions of "professional", financial is only one that seems important for the DPR overnight professionals.

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JTC111
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Re: It's your job and it might be part time.
In reply to Glenn NK, 10 months ago

Glenn NK wrote:

Mike_PEAT wrote:

You make regular money from it, you're a pro....you don't, you're an amateur.

Not saying pro is better...I know many amateurs who are better and more serious about photography than most of the pros I have met.

I used to be proud to say I wasn't a pro...but I got a job offer I couldn't refuse so now it's my day job.

What if you do photography and make regular money from it but have another part time job from which you earn more money?

I'm not picking an argument with you - rather I suggest that we could discuss this topic forever and never come to a definition or conclusion. In short, the time would be better spent doing anything else - particularly photography even if we didn't earn any money from it. There are so many lame topics on photo forums (not just this one) that it makes my head spin and my eyes water.

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Glenn NK

I don't think there is a definitive definition for this, but in response to your question, I'd argue people can have more than one profession.  Someone might be an engineer during the week but a wedding photographer on the weekends.  That person is certainly a professional photographer, as far as I'm concerned.
Using my own life as another example, I'm a high school teacher but I'm also a singer/songwriter whose music has appeared on a number of television shows for which I get a royalty check every 3 months.  It's not a lot of money but it satisfies the IRS in that I can claim music gear and instruments as business deductions on my tax return.  So I'm a professional musician ...something I really never thought would happen.

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yardcoyote
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to FrancoD, 10 months ago

Exactly.  Many home cooks can produce every bit as good a meal, plate for plate, as a trained chef, but to do it consistently,  with a variety of dishes, day after day on a business basis, is the realm of the professional.  As an artist, I am happy to tread the line between amateur and semi pro, since I have the freedom to create my best work for myself, selling what I can when I can, rather than doing work for hire to please a client.

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OceanFroggie
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?

Somebody who's primary income source is derived from photography irrespective of their skill level or their equipment.

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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

A pro photographer is one who has good knowledge and practical mastery of optics, art and photographic equipment at the same time. Money has little to do with it.

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fredphotog
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fishywisht, 10 months ago

No, not really, as I said, it used to be all about the money, but using the Olympics for example, are you going to tell me the competitors are NOT Professionals?

They use pro hockey players, pro basketball players, the top athletes in their respective events are all paid, yet they are not 'professionals'?

I'm not confusing myself at all, what I am saying is the line between pro and non-pro is not what it used to be.

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fredphotog
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Re: It's your job and it might be part time.
In reply to Glenn NK, 10 months ago

It it's a lame topic, why are you chiming in?

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fredphotog
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to yardcoyote, 10 months ago

I can agree with this.

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fredphotog
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to hdr, 10 months ago

The last two replies are both correct, IMO.

Let me ask this (it's a theoretical):

My first gig is shooting a wedding, they pay me $2,000, I supply the work, the check bounces, so did I get paid?  Am I a pro?  (DON'T LAUGH - I said it was a theoretical!)

Let's say I shoot for a big newspaper full-time, I get paid full-time, but someone else in Podunkville shoots for the local newspaper for the cost of materials, they don't 'profit', are they both 'pros'?

I KNOW this topic will never get a majority agreement, I just wanted to see what folks suggest.

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fishywisht
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

fredphotog wrote:

The last two replies are both correct, IMO.

Let me ask this (it's a theoretical):

My first gig is shooting a wedding, they pay me $2,000, I supply the work, the check bounces, so did I get paid? Am I a pro? (DON'T LAUGH - I said it was a theoretical!)

Let's say I shoot for a big newspaper full-time, I get paid full-time, but someone else in Podunkville shoots for the local newspaper for the cost of materials, they don't 'profit', are they both 'pros'?

I KNOW this topic will never get a majority agreement, I just wanted to see what folks suggest.

You seem to be obsessed with taking away someone's badge of "Professional" away from them as if it means something, like taking the badge from a Sheriff in the old westerns. If in the end you don't get money for it, then the only reason you'd call yourself a Professional would be to impress people to think you had the ability and were employable. You can be a prolific and competent shooter of anything for your community, but if you don't earn money then there's no point calling yourself a professional. Simple, really.

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MysteryLemon
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A Pro makes money...
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

A professional photographer is someone who gets paid for taking photographs.

The word professional doesn't take into account what quality their work is.  It just means that they get paid for it.

You could be an athlete in that you train daily and take part in events and competitions but you only become a professional athelete when someone sponsors you and you get paid for taking part in events and competitions.

The same goes for photographers.

I see shocking work from some people who I wouldn't even class as a photographer, but they are right to call themselves a professional photographer because someone out there is stupid enough to pay for their work.

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hdr
hdr
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Re: A Pro makes money...
In reply to MysteryLemon, 10 months ago

MysteryLemon wrote:

... I see shocking work from some people who I wouldn't even class as a photographer, but they are right to call themselves a professional photographer because someone out there is stupid enough to pay for their work...

If the 'shocking work' is exactly what the buyer likes and is will to pay for, then it makes no difference whether one calls the photographer a pro or not. But the fact that an ignorant buyer is wiling to pay for his work is no indication that the photographer is a pro in the true sense of the word. Of course if many knowledgeable buyers admire and buy his work, then he is without doubt a pro.

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