What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
Paul B Jones
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Words have Definitions
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

Dictionaries provide standard definitions for words. For example:

Professional - a person engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime."a professional boxer"

Mystery solved!

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AdSR
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In reply to MysteryLemon, 10 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.

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.

That depends a lot on the quality of education in a given field, though. I don't know about photography but in IT a common problem in many parts of the world is that there is no obvious correlation between someone having (or not) a CS diploma and the quality of the software they develop. This leads to a common practice where, when you recruit someone, you have to test them thoroughly on your own and you get suspicious of promising resumes. I guess it's actually simpler in photography because you can just ask for their portfolio.

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

The one who takes photos for money. No relation to quality of work.

I say this because even though I am not a lawyer, I have guided my own lawyers on how to proceed on my cases. They are the professionals, but I was simply better than them even when they were charging $500 or so an hour.

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pavi1
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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'?

You are a "Pro" only if you have enough after tax dollars to pay for your life. Anything less is a hobby.

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

The one who takes photos for money. No relation to quality of work.

I say this because even though I am not a lawyer, I have guided my own lawyers on how to proceed on my cases. They are the professionals, but I was simply better than them even when they were charging $500 or so an hour.

Do you cut your own hair?

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donaldsc
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If You are Paid Anything - You are a Pro
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

What could be simpler.

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Don

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AlbertInFrance
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Re: If You are Paid Anything - You are a Pro
In reply to donaldsc, 10 months ago

Yup! It's all down to money.

I've known professionals in a number of fields whose work was rubbish, but they were paid for what they did. That makes them professionals.

They may have been lacking in professional knowledge, ethics or attitude, but that has nothing to do with it.

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bosjohn21
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to Aberaeron, 10 months ago

of course you are. its about how you make a living not about how good you are at your craft, this is one of several definitions but all are similar (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

"a professional boxer"

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Aberaeron
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to bosjohn21, 10 months ago

bosjohn21 wrote:

of course you are. its about how you make a living not about how good you are at your craft, this is one of several definitions but all are similar (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

"a professional boxer"

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John aka bosjohn21

Yes. I tend to agree that anyone who accepts pay for a job is doing so in a professional capacity. An amateur does not generally get paid.

However, there are exceptions on both sides and any definition has to be seen in its context.

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

"A person that takes pictures with an expensive camera."

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GeraldW
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Re: If You are Paid Anything - You are a Pro
In reply to AlbertInFrance, 10 months ago

Was Henri Cartier-Bresson a "pro"?  Ansel Adams certainly was.  Cartier-Bresson didn't do it for the money.  Yet both had far reaching influence on the art.

Is it Money, or is it "professionalism" and the standards that accompany it, that makes a photographer a true Professional.

In most sports, professional simply means you do it to earn money and are good enough to be in the upper reaches of the sport.   In golf, it has a much more rigid definition.  You become certified by the PGA as a touring or teaching professional.  In photography, you can rent a store front, set up a studio, and hang out a sign saying John Doe, Professional Photographer.

I guess, to earn the title, Professional; it should not be self-proclaimed.  Except in photography, who else will bestow the title????

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Lightpath48
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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!)

Now you're pulling our leg!

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Lightpath48
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

As a photo retailer I sold to both amateurs and pros. The pros ran up huge bills for operating their photography businesses in a number of areas, and had major responsibilities toward the IRS, accounting for those expenses. Their primary incomes were clearly from their photography. They didn't have time for other jobs, and probably wouldn't have been posting on gear forums. They were too busy making a living with photography on a daily basis.

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Let's make it simple:
In reply to fredphotog, 10 months ago

Have you ever seen a bad hollywood movie? I don't know how cinematic you are, but ever notice those badly cloned wires, lack of continuity (most abundant flaw in hollywood flicks from wardrobe to lines) sloppily dubbed parts (couldn't be bothered to get that one studio line right on the set? had to dub in post?) and if course in the big picture: bad plot, bad concept, bad execution, bad camera work, bad music, and bad acting.

If bad movies can get to top 20, how bad do you think you can find in place 6542? But I'm sure I don't have to drive this point home, I think anyone who's ever seen a movie has seen a bad movie.

It's is very likely that the people responsible for the bad movie paid $100 grand to go to film school/acting school, spent years studying their chosen profession and in the case of directions, have millions worth of gear to use for their work.

They're called professional directors and professional actors, and especially if you look at the directors who aren't good enough to get Miramax or Disney to splurge a few million on them you can find some pretty abysmal performances.

Then there are the guys with $2000 worth of gear that make movies that make you cry every time you watch them, and make you want to watch them again and cry again and again. Most of them didn't go to film school and didn't pay tuition fees, but that doesn't mean they didn't train - with their dad's consumer video cameras and VCR recorders and later on old tv cameras gotten from tv studios that were getting rid of them switching to new equipment and mixing rooms some nice guy at the TV studio let them use after hours when their own people didn't need it.

According to some people here, only the latter kind of people should be called professional, and the fat cats who spent $100 grand on film school only to not learn how to make movies that move people should not be called professionals.

I think it stands to reason that anyone managing to sell their film, be it a guy with a $2000 camera or a guy with a $200k Arriflex and a crew of 300, deserves to be called professional. Likewise for photography.

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bosjohn21
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to Aberaeron, 10 months ago

Aberaeron wrote:

bosjohn21 wrote:

of course you are. its about how you make a living not about how good you are at your craft, this is one of several definitions but all are similar (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

"a professional boxer"

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John aka bosjohn21

Yes. I tend to agree that anyone who accepts pay for a job is doing so in a professional capacity. An amateur does not generally get paid.

However, there are exceptions on both sides and any definition has to be seen in its context.

agreed but maybe what is really wanted in this discussion is a different term other than professional however I cannot think of one.

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

Aberaeron wrote:

FrancoD wrote:

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.

I disagree. It is not necessarily the case that a professional can make enough money from their profession to make a living [wage].

Sort of true: that's why there had been so many 'struggling artists' through the history...

It's not about the amount of money one makes, it's about making money from it. The more money may just mean he/she is a 'better professional' (or more dedicated, harder working, more talented...). In some cases, it could be just luckier than the others...

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Aberaeron
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Re: What is a 'Pro' Photographer, really?
In reply to bosjohn21, 10 months ago

bosjohn21 wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

bosjohn21 wrote:

of course you are. its about how you make a living not about how good you are at your craft, this is one of several definitions but all are similar (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

"a professional boxer"

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John aka bosjohn21

Yes. I tend to agree that anyone who accepts pay for a job is doing so in a professional capacity. An amateur does not generally get paid.

However, there are exceptions on both sides and any definition has to be seen in its context.

agreed but maybe what is really wanted in this discussion is a different term other than professional however I cannot think of one.

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John aka bosjohn21

I suggested the word "prostitute" in a previous post.

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

pro·fes·sion·al adjective

(of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

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Rservello
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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?

Technically if you accept financial compensation for services rendered you are a professional.  Quality has no bearing in the definition.  I know plenty of professionals that are just awful.

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

WRONG.

I have no interest in 'degrading' anyone's 'title'.

Let me ask this:

If you were a 100% paid 'Pro' ANYTHING, if you retire or quit doing it, are you still considered a 'Pro'?

YES

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