What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?

Started 7 months ago | Discussions
René Schuster
Forum ProPosts: 12,036
Like?
Re:
In reply to MysteryLemon, 7 months ago

MysteryLemon wrote:

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

Once again - this might be true for the US but not for Germany!

In Germany, it is not about money at all!

"Photographer" is a recognized occupation requiring formal training, it takes years of training and school, passing tests and taking examinations, before I am allowed to call myself a "photographer", a professional.

I could make a million a year with my photography; without a photographer's diploma issued by a chamber of commerce I am not a photographer, just an "amateur photographer"!

No matter in what field, you won't become a "pro" over here by just doing something successfully or making money by doing it; to be allowed to call yourself a "pro ...." it always takes training, tests, examinations, time and sweat and money to get there.

I think our system is o.k.; only that way I can be sure that e.g. the plumber, the electrician or whomever I might need to fix something in my house is a pro who delivers (expensive!) quality work and not some amateur, whose maybe lousy (but less expensive) job might result in my house being flooded or burnt down one day.

RS

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
darklamp
Senior MemberPosts: 3,289
Like?
Some one who doesn't have to ask (nt)
In reply to fredphotog, 7 months ago
No text.
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
MysteryLemon
Regular MemberPosts: 262
Like?
Re:
In reply to René Schuster, 7 months ago

René Schuster wrote:

MysteryLemon wrote:

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

Once again - this might be true for the US but not for Germany!

In Germany, it is not about money at all!

"Photographer" is a recognized occupation requiring formal training, it takes years of training and school, passing tests and taking examinations, before I am allowed to call myself a "photographer", a professional.

I could make a million a year with my photography; without a photographer's diploma issued by a chamber of commerce I am not a photographer, just an "amateur photographer"!

No matter in what field, you won't become a "pro" over here by just doing something successfully or making money by doing it; to be allowed to call yourself a "pro ...." it always takes training, tests, examinations, time and sweat and money to get there.

I think our system is o.k.; only that way I can be sure that e.g. the plumber, the electrician or whomever I might need to fix something in my house is a pro who delivers (expensive!) quality work and not some amateur, whose maybe lousy (but less expensive) job might result in my house being flooded or burnt down one day.

RS

That's how it should be.

I'm in the UK though and here, anyone can pick up a camera with no qualification or training and setup a studio or go and shoot a wedding.  They are classed as a Professional because they get paid for doing that job.

It's quite frustrating for real Pro photographers who see ametures, calling themselves a professioan photographer, shooting weddings and leaving the clients unhappy with the results.  It gives the profession a bad name.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Mike_PEAT
Forum ProPosts: 10,286Gear list
Like?
nt)I did mention weekend wedding photogs in subject.
In reply to Glenn NK, 7 months ago

nt=No text

Glenn NK wrote:

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.

 Mike_PEAT's gear list:Mike_PEAT's gear list
Lytro Light Field 16GB
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
canonpro
Senior MemberPosts: 1,119
Like?
Re:
In reply to René Schuster, 7 months ago

My opinion, René Schuster, that those types of schooling do not always give you Pro results, there are 15 year kids that I've met that are turning out work way beyond those who spend time in college and training classes, or even the teachers teaching the classes. Schooling doesn't teach creativity, it sometimes actually kills it. If you look at a lot of the big names on the world circuit, most never went to school, and learned by experimenting and doing things the "trained" photographers shy away from. Most quoted example is Joey L, who was 15 years old when he started entering contests and was booking Pro gigs when he was 18, all with out schooling. And by his personal exploration without schools teaching him the wrong/right ways to shoot he started what has become almost a signature style. (can't tell you how many people now look at some shots and say, thats looks like Joey L's work style). Now when it comes to other professions, such as a plumber and electrician, Id agree with you, as those are professions that if the work is not done properly, injury or death can occur. But when your talking about painting, drawing, photography or other arts, schooling is not needed to produce spectacular work. Creative is the key. . And as far as learning something that schools could teach, now a days with the internet, anyone can watch a learning tutorial and learn specific techniques that could better them in a specific area that nurtures their goals, and not an outdated curriculum taught by schools. I think the paid approach to who is Pro is more relevant then those who had more schooling, as Art is only worth what one will pay for, and Art is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes down to it you can help nurture Art with school, but you can't teach Art.

(And I have family in Germany, and while over in Heidelberg I got to look around at the photographers in town, and though they all have gone through higher education schooling, their work looked like it was from the 90's, outdated and unoriginal. Photos that would make high school kids with their iPhones look like professionals. But there were some street venders at the Christmas Market there, that were unschooled, that were selling prints that were simply stunning. When it comes to photography, I look at it as its 10% skill, and 90% creativity).

-- hide signature --

Take any advice given on a forum with a grain a salt. (that includes mine). Nobody is
perfect, though many claim to be.

--
----------------------------------------------------
Take any advice given on a forum with a grain a salt. (that includes mine). Nobody is
perfect, though many claim to be.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Dennis
Forum ProPosts: 13,547
Like?
Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 7 months ago

fredphotog wrote:

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

Irrelevant.

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

Why would that change ?

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

Maybe a part time or one time pro. I've freelanced for our local weekly small town paper twice in the last few years. And have submitted unsolicited work that's been printed over a dozen times. I'm no pro.

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

If they make money, they're pros.

So TODAY, what makes a 'Pro'?

Same thing as always.

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.

That's a fabricated definition that eliminates the meaningful distinction made by the actual definition.

Thoughts?

Pros can do good work or bad. Amateurs can do good work or bad. Amateurs can occasionally do better work than pros (though they aren't doing it on a clients schedule and don't have income at stake if they fail).

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Bill Robb
Senior MemberPosts: 3,332
Like?
Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 7 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'?

If you earn 50% or more of your income from photography you are a pro photographer.
If you earn less than 50% of your income from photography you are an amateur photographer.

There is no need to complicate this stuff further than that.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
chkproductions
Contributing MemberPosts: 801
Like?
Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 7 months ago

I just last week had a client after our shoot send me an email complimenting me on how "professional" I was.  That had nothing to do with my fee.  I took his use of the word that it meant more of how I handled myself, my experience in photography as it applied to the shoot at hand, and my relationship with him.

I have always taken "professional" to mean working to an accepted and established standard with some validated accreditation.  Now I know that this is not verifiable in today's photography game, and maybe it never was.

So applying "professional" to photography to me is a false statement.  All I could say is that one is a "working" photographer and that's about it.

I also wonder about calling the people we do shoots for clients as opposed to customers.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Jack Hass
Regular MemberPosts: 392Gear list
Like?
Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 7 months ago

Anybody who uses a DSLR of course 

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Jack Hass
Regular MemberPosts: 392Gear list
Like?
Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to Bill Robb, 7 months ago

Bill Robb wrote:

If you earn 50% or more of your income from photography you are a pro photographer.
If you earn less than 50% of your income from photography you are an amateur photographer.

There is no need to complicate this stuff further than that.

So the house mom who doesn't have a job, but sells a photo a week for $25 is a pro?

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
hdr
hdr
Senior MemberPosts: 1,560Gear list
Like?
Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to Jack Hass, 7 months ago

Jack Hass wrote:

Anybody who uses a DSLR of course

Carrying a DSLR no doubt makes one feel like a pro, particularly for those who are image-conscious, with or without the pun.

-- hide signature --

Depth haz been the mizzing dimenzion for long enough, but still, few are bothered with 3D.
Enjoy Free-Viewing Colorful 3D Without Glasses:- http://www.SingaporeGallery.com

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Dennis
Forum ProPosts: 13,547
Like?
Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to chkproductions, 7 months ago

chkproductions wrote:

I also wonder about calling the people we do shoots for clients as opposed to customers.

I think of a client as someone you do work for and a customer as someone who buys something. So if you're selling prints, someone who buys one from you is a customer. If someone hires you to shoot something, he or she is a client. In one case, you're providing a service; in the other, a product.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
René Schuster
Forum ProPosts: 12,036
Like?
Re:
In reply to MysteryLemon, 7 months ago

MysteryLemon wrote:

René Schuster wrote:

MysteryLemon wrote:

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

Once again - this might be true for the US but not for Germany!

In Germany, it is not about money at all!

"Photographer" is a recognized occupation requiring formal training, it takes years of training and school, passing tests and taking examinations, before I am allowed to call myself a "photographer", a professional.

I could make a million a year with my photography; without a photographer's diploma issued by a chamber of commerce I am not a photographer, just an "amateur photographer"!

No matter in what field, you won't become a "pro" over here by just doing something successfully or making money by doing it; to be allowed to call yourself a "pro ...." it always takes training, tests, examinations, time and sweat and money to get there.

I think our system is o.k.; only that way I can be sure that e.g. the plumber, the electrician or whomever I might need to fix something in my house is a pro who delivers (expensive!) quality work and not some amateur, whose maybe lousy (but less expensive) job might result in my house being flooded or burnt down one day.

RS

That's how it should be.

I'm in the UK though and here, anyone can pick up a camera with no qualification or training and setup a studio or go and shoot a wedding. They are classed as a Professional because they get paid for doing that job.

I could imagine over here this would come to a very quick end as soon as the real "pro" on the other end of town would learn about it! All it would probably take is one phone call to the chamber of commerce, lol!

That doesn't mean I couldn't go and shoot the wedding of a good friend, just to do him a favour, but it would be against the law if I pretend being a pro (without being one), to make/and make money that way.

RS

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
René Schuster
Forum ProPosts: 12,036
Like?
Re:
In reply to canonpro, 7 months ago

canonpro wrote:

My opinion, René Schuster, that those types of schooling do not always give you Pro results, there are 15 year kids that I've met that are turning out work way beyond those who spend time in college and training classes, or even the teachers teaching the classes. Schooling doesn't teach creativity, it sometimes actually kills it. If you look at a lot of the big names on the world circuit, most never went to school, and learned by experimenting and doing things the "trained" photographers shy away from. Most quoted example is Joey L, who was 15 years old when he started entering contests and was booking Pro gigs when he was 18, all with out schooling. And by his personal exploration without schools teaching him the wrong/right ways to shoot he started what has become almost a signature style. (can't tell you how many people now look at some shots and say, thats looks like Joey L's work style). Now when it comes to other professions, such as a plumber and electrician, Id agree with you, as those are professions that if the work is not done properly, injury or death can occur. But when your talking about painting, drawing, photography or other arts, schooling is not needed to produce spectacular work. Creative is the key. . And as far as learning something that schools could teach, now a days with the internet, anyone can watch a learning tutorial and learn specific techniques that could better them in a specific area that nurtures their goals, and not an outdated curriculum taught by schools. I think the paid approach to who is Pro is more relevant then those who had more schooling, as Art is only worth what one will pay for, and Art is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes down to it you can help nurture Art with school, but you can't teach Art.

(And I have family in Germany, and while over in Heidelberg I got to look around at the photographers in town, and though they all have gone through higher education schooling, their work looked like it was from the 90's, outdated and unoriginal.

Yes, after years of mainly taking silly passport pictures, a couple weddings a year and now and then a portrait, many pro photographers can look pretty outdated. Often a bit sad to see how many people are satisfied and happy with pictures that are just technically o.k. (exposure time, aperture, focus), but don't show any creativity beyond this technical aspect!

Photos that would make high school kids with their iPhones look like professionals. But there were some street venders at the Christmas Market there, that were unschooled, that were selling prints that were simply stunning. When it comes to photography, I look at it as its 10% skill, and 90% creativity).

With the exception of that highlighted sentence in your post I think I can agree with you.

Without a special eye for subjects or a certain amount of creativity, means the "art" part of the game, the best schooling will only produce a perfect technician, but not necessarily an "artist".

On the other hand, the German word for "art" is "Kunst" and that word comes from "können", "can", like in "I can do it", pointing mainly to the technical aspect of art. Just what you can hear all the time: "Good art is usually based on 10% of inspiration and 90% of perspiration".

RS

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Bill Robb
Senior MemberPosts: 3,332
Like?
Re:
In reply to canonpro, 7 months ago

canonpro wrote:

My opinion, René Schuster, that those types of schooling do not always give you Pro results,

Opinions are nice, even when they are meaningless. Pro comes down to money, nothing else. "Pro results" is as meaningless a term as is possible to come up with.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Greg A A
Contributing MemberPosts: 798
Like?
Pro photographer - it's your occupation
In reply to fredphotog, 7 months ago

Professional literal definition: A person engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

Pro photographer is nothing more than saying your occupation is a photographer. A professional wedding photographer is going to immediately know how to deal with a wedding and do a great job on the shots that their customers like. A pro that makes their money on stock is also likely to be an outstanding photographer.

Being a pro has nothing to with how good a photographer you are. However, most professional photographers are very good as well. An amateur photographer could very well be a better photographer than a pro, but probably not as a rule.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
yardcoyote
Senior MemberPosts: 2,390Gear list
Like?
Client vs. Customer
In reply to chkproductions, 7 months ago

I have worked for plenty of clients doing graphic arts projects, and I can assure you there's a huge difference between a client and a customer. You have to work with a client. A customer takes it or leaves it. The client usually has input into the design of the finished work, and he/she has to approve the final design before you finish the work and get the check.

I work with a client to create a custom T-shirt design. The person who buys a T-shirt with my own design on it is a customer.

Of course, the same person could fill both roles-- if somebody buys and likes one of my T-shirts and then wants me to design one for them, they become a client as well as a customer.

I'm assuming the same is true for photographers.

 yardcoyote's gear list:yardcoyote's gear list
Pentax K-30 Pentax smc DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Tone Row
Regular MemberPosts: 334Gear list
Like?
Re: A Pro makes money...
In reply to MysteryLemon, 7 months ago

MysteryLemon wrote:

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.

Wow, didn't know the bar was so low into the world of "professional". Last weekend I grilled hot dogs for my daughter's school carnival and people paid money for them, which means I'm now a professional chef!!!!!!!

 Tone Row's gear list:Tone Row's gear list
Sony SLT-A55 NEX5R
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Bill Robb
Senior MemberPosts: 3,332
Like?
Re: A Pro makes money...
In reply to Tone Row, 7 months ago

Tone Row wrote:

MysteryLemon wrote:

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.

Wow, didn't know the bar was so low into the world of "professional". Last weekend I grilled hot dogs for my daughter's school carnival and people paid money for them, which means I'm now a professional chef!!!!!!!

Are you paid to be stupid too? Or do you do that for fun?

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Mark_A
Veteran MemberPosts: 9,312
Like?
Why does it matter so much?
In reply to fredphotog, 7 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?

fredphotog, why does it matter so much?

There are amateurs and professionals producing very mixed work, some excellent some rubbish.

I had a period of paid photography so I could have claimed then that I was a pro.

I have been a photographer for about 14 years so I am no beginner, but I would also not yet claim to be expert.

If people want to call themselves pro, when you might think they are not, does it really matter?

Mark

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads