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It’s Time for Pro Photographers and Hobbyists to Call a Truce

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I’m a professional photographer. I also recognize that, increasingly, this designation seems to be losing its impact.

Besides being able to deduct equipment purchases on your taxes, what else does the title bring you?

How many of us are making it solely from our freelance photography income today? And what prevents someone who earns their primary income as an accountant or chiropractor from also calling themselves a photographer?

Let’s not get so hung up on the labels. I think it’s time for pros and hobbyists to call a truce.

Emerging from the Darkroom

Yes, I understand the reasons that traditional pros resent hobbyists, amateurs, “mamarazzi” or whatever you want to call today’s prosumer photographers.

Let’s look at the photographers with roots in film. I am among those who cut their teeth shooting film — miles and miles of it.

We’ve only recently emerged into the light, with our pasty-pale complexions, after spending a good portion of our careers “souping” film or developing and printing in the darkroom.

We had to learn contrast control, film latitude and exposure the tedious way. We shot, took notes on the settings we used, processed the film, made prints and confirmed what worked versus what didn’t.

Then we’d go out and do it again.

We spent a fortune in film, paper and chemistry, and we had no shortcuts in learning how to expose. We had to reconcile what our meter saw, what our eyes saw, what the camera recorded and, finally, how to make a good printable transparency or negative.

So you can imagine our annoyance when we see a newcomer show up with the latest, greatest DSLR that exposes 95 percent of the scene perfectly. It’s only natural to feel a little resentment at those who haven’t paid their dues.

Camera Owners Aren’t the Same as Photographers

It’s also true that, while having a DSLR makes photography easier, it doesn’t make you a good photographer. It only makes you the owner of a good camera.

A lot of hobbyists don’t seem to recognize the distinction.

Most DSLR owners, from expectant parents to vacationers, start with the objective of documenting events. They almost never make enlargements bigger than an 8 x 10 print. Most of their images live online, to be shared with friends and family on social networks.

Gamut, resolution, color temperature, file size and pixelation are meaningless to their online viewers, because at web resolutions, those flaws aren’t noticeable.

When I compliment the images I see on Facebook, I’m generally complimenting the photo’s subject on how good they look. I’m not complimenting the photographer, because at 72 pixels per inch, it’s just too difficult to tell if it’s actually a good picture.

But I’m sure there are many camera owners who, after hearing compliment upon compliment on their photos, start to believe they should be doing this professionally.

So they hang up a shingle online. They have invested in photo equipment, a suite of Photoshop plug-ins to mask their mistakes, maybe the magical one-touch skin softening software. They have not spent time learning the ins and outs of how to light, work with makeup artists, and all the other skills of established professionals.

And because it’s so easy, and because they make their living doing something else, it’s only natural to charge a fraction of what the pros charge, right?

Calling a Truce

So here we are. Now what?

First, you should realize that whether you’re a crusty old pro or a DSLR newbie, you can’t be everywhere to shoot everything. There are plenty of pictures for all of us to take.

So how about this for a compromise:

If we old pros promise not to snicker when we see you shoot on program mode and light a group of 20 people with your built-in pop-up flash and kit lens, will you newbies stop telling photography customers that you can do everything we can do for half the price?

Sounds fair enough to me.

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93 Comments (Open | Close)

93 Comments To "It’s Time for Pro Photographers and Hobbyists to Call a Truce"

#1 Comment By skymyrka On May 23, 2011 @ 12:17 am

no offense, but blah!
this subject has been discussed so many times.
In short, customers always get what they pay for. Let some of them learn the hard way. Whatever.

In terms of what makes pro a "pro" is not hours spent in a darkroom, although it counts for a lot in a long run, but talent. You can buy the best equipment, you can't buy talent. It's the one and only thing that sets you apart nowadays. Although it most likely means you don't bank proper income. So what?

#2 Comment By jerycgarcia On May 23, 2011 @ 3:36 am

I'm a pro who has cut his teeth shooting film as well. But guess what? No one cares. While we whine about it like old soldiers telling stories about their war wounds, the newbies are out there taking pictures and getting better at it with every new camera that comes out. And that's all that matters, even back in the days of film. It's all about putting out good product. Our advantage as professionals is we know how. Now, if we could just stop bellyaching and get back to work.

#3 Comment By SequinMiner On May 23, 2011 @ 8:19 am

Sorry Peter, this ones a miss. The issue is devaluation of our product in the Clients eyes.. but ultimately, Jerry (above) is right. In fact, he's so right I'm going to get back to my editing.. 😉

#4 Comment By tomcat On May 23, 2011 @ 9:12 am

I certainly am a amatuer, started with photo, and moved to video, but I agree with many of the comments here. My belief is to purchase the best equipment I can afford and then work on my skill level to bring it up to the level of gear I have. I do not rely on Photoshop, or any other program to tweak my pics or video, as I believe it should be talent that shines, not how good you are at faking or masking the shot. Just my opinion..
At the end of the day, the end user is the one that has to be satisfied with our work.. No different than any other line of work. Good quality work will always stand out from the crowd.

#5 Comment By Ken Tam On May 23, 2011 @ 9:15 am

"If we old pros promise not to snicker when we see you shoot on program mode and light a group of 20 people with your built-in pop-up flash and kit lens, will you newbies stop telling photography customers that you can do everything we can do for half the price?"

I always pretend no seen them, but they also not pretend no seen me too 😉 I am now in China. Client really don't see the different of quality.

#6 Comment By Jim On May 23, 2011 @ 9:30 am

I'm NOT a professional photographer.

I have, though, shot hundreds of thousands of frames, both on film and digital, going way back to the early 1970s.

I have also spent hundreds of hours in darkrooms, sniffing the developer and the fixer and combing the occasional shard of shattered enlarger bulb out of my hair.

I'm not sure what my point is, but then I'm not sure what yours is either.

I'm a photographer. So are you. Judge me by my images, not by my source of income. I'll do you the same favour.

#7 Comment By William Beem On May 23, 2011 @ 11:04 am

Wow. You call for a truce, but the article is dripping with bitterness and derision. I used to shoot film and you know what? It sucked! It was expensive, it was a pain and I don't miss it one single bit.

Get over your bitterness and learn how to do business. It's not my fault if you fail.

#8 Comment By Brian Tremblay On May 23, 2011 @ 11:31 am

Yeah, right. That'll happen.

The line has been drawn.

#9 Comment By Rob On May 23, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

Ya know... In the end people pay for what they value... IMO all that's happening is that people who don't want to pay but had no choice in the past now do have a choice.

I have never earned a dime from photography and frankly don't want to - it's just not what I want to do for money since it's a love for me pure and simple and I don't want those to mix. I want to take and share stuff of my family and I want to have fun with it. Sometime I pay for classes & workshops - strangely enough taught by photographers that seem to find better $$ in teaching hobbyists then this high flying work you imply. For the record - yeah I started with film and manual camera in the 70's - so may be able to expose & develop better then some but worse then others.

However and I think this is the professions main issue... as a former photography customer who has paid to get mostly meh work.... and paid very well - not the wally world types for the most part. In that sense that revenue has been lost to the photography profession. The photographers I have paid in the past should look squarely in the mirror for the reasons for that.

Let me flip it around as a computer programmer..... How many of you "pros" have paid for a web site instead of lifting free or cheap wordpress / flash / html templates? How many of you pro photographers purport to be into SEO? or even know what that stands for? How many of your professional organisations are pushing that stuff? How do you think that looks to some of us that do know what we are doing in those areas - probably a lot like the weekend wedding guy with a camera does to you..... funny and sad at the same time.

We are all doing far more then what has traditionally been included in making a living..... it's part of the times.... but it also means we are far from out core knowledge and that makes the product poorer in a lot of ways.

#10 Comment By ian campbell On May 23, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

am or pro, it's no matter as we've all been done in by the market, anyway. We were done in when Time magazine bought a cover pic off a website for $37 bucks, because there's no way anyone, pro or amateur, can live on $37 sales.
We are becoming a part time job, like writing, and nothing will change that. More and more people can do it themselves, and fewer and fewer people care about the quality.
It's not a debate any more -- it's simple mathematics. Press, commercial, portrait and yes, even weddings, especially with 50 per cent of all weddings being survivably iffy...
And, by the way, I for one am irked by the constant snarling about everything on this site: accept the differences, but stop sticking the knife in with every response.
Play nice, children.

#11 Comment By Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Photography On May 23, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

Sounds good to me! The professional photographers are the people who have helped me find my own niche and improve my photography.

I love photography; but long ago I decided that if I'm going to invest time and money in this hobby, I'm going to learn what I'm doing. I didn't understand the bitter divide between amateurs and pros - I'm not trying to steal anyone's business. But the longer I write my blog, the more things I witness that do cause me to raise an eyebrow.

More and more I see people buy a DSLR from Costco, sign up for a business license the next day, and start taking clients right after, not knowing what they're doing, completely uninsured, charging next to nothing, and editing everything with Picasa.

I doubt that these individuals are attracting the same clients as more experienced professionals; but I can imagine that pros may get calls from people who only want to pay $50 for a session.

#12 Comment By Tom Grier On May 23, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

Ian is right ... seems like a lot of snarkiness on the site lately.

I like Peter's articles. I don't always agree with everything he says, but I enjoy reading his thoughts and the those of the many other articles. I learn at least something from almost every article, and frequently find things to share with my students.

To Peter and all other posters: keep making us think!

#13 Comment By Ian On May 23, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

The major flaw/presumption in the post is that the amateur is not as skilled as the pro... guess what, some are, and happy to shoot for free. Try that out in your business model.

#14 Comment By Tobias W. On May 23, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

Sorry, that truce is just wishful thinking.

My wife has an entry level DSLR with a small Four Thirds sensor and she takes food photography images for Getty. She's self taught, she has the eye for details and composition. She started food photography less than a year ago and her images are for sale on Getty.

Face the reality.

#15 Comment By Dave On May 23, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

Generally, I agree with a lot of BSR articles, but this one's kinda silly with the article totally contradicting the title, it's another 'bash the amateurs who didn't go through film's hardship' article offering nothing to bridge the two segments.

#16 Comment By Anthony Hereld On May 24, 2011 @ 2:36 am

Yet another "photography is dead" type article from a pro photographer. This is 2011. No one cares if you used to shoot film, and it certainly doesn't add any credibility. It's the modern day equivalent of walking uphill both ways to school.

What you "old pros" need to get a handle on is your outdated business practices. You don't own the market anymore, the internet and social media has changed all that...forever. It's not about your 20 years experience or darkroom war stories. The consumer cares about price and the final product.

If you guys were half as good about marketing yourselves as you are about whining, this would be a non-issue.

#17 Comment By Ted On May 24, 2011 @ 3:32 am

And this is why I call myself an artist, not a photographer.

#18 Comment By Tony Blei On May 24, 2011 @ 4:32 am

Film. For some reason I was never really in love with it. (Well, maybe that Kodak P3200 because it allowed me to shoot in a manner that I previously couldn't.) I don't miss dark fixer spots on my clothes or the way I smelled after souping my day's shoot. It was a necessary step.

I realized a long time ago that there are some amazing amateur photographers whose work we will never see. Digital photography has made it so that you can send an image around the world with Polaroid ease. The once-invisible photographer is now in your face.

Today's cameras create wonderful pictures, by anyone's standards. Great things happen when a wonderful tool is put into the hands of a smart person.

While you called for a truce (because I know you are a wonderful and peaceful person), maybe what you meant to say is that maybe we should all respect each other.

I am grateful for the amateur photographer's contribution. Without them, our already expensive gear would cost a lot more — and do less.

We all simply need to respect each other.

#19 Comment By Mark Holmes On May 24, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

A professional is someone who earns their living from photography isn't it? Not someone who has done some kind of apprenticeship and initiation. One of my students is what some might call a "mom with a camera." In the past year she has built up a photography studio from nothing into a busy and successful business. There's a lot she doesn't know about photography, but she certainly understands the business of photography. I'd call that a professional.

#20 Comment By Mike M On May 24, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

I came up in an odd household. Back in the early 70s when I was a child we had a darkroom in a large walk-in closet. My father was in the Navy and earned his living from the Navy. But he also enjoyed photography and spending time in the darkroom. He was an amateur photographer. He passed his love of photography down to me as well as his skills in the darkroom. I spent many an hour as well in that room with the red bulb. I was a kid with a camera. My mother on the other hand was a professional. She took images for newspapers, magazines, etc and received payment for them. She was a professional photographer.

We all used the same darkroom, same camera, and same equipment. So that was not what separated us. As a child I shot as a child, mostly out of focus or framed wrong but occasionally I would get a great shot where everything fell into place. My father was much more skilled and would rattle off great shot after great shot and could work an enlarger like no one else, but he was not a pro. My mother would also get some great shots and could work magic in the darkroom. The only difference between her and my father was she was getting paid for it.

So I grew up realizing that it's not how much you earn per print, it's the work that's the reward.

Do I earn money with my camera today? Sure, family portraits, senior portraits for my sons school, occasional magazine work, etc. Jobs most "professionals" tend to think is below them (at least in this area).

As it turns out I still consider myself an amateur because 90% of my shots are done for me simply for the love of it. I think we need to maybe change the definition of pro and ama from where it is now (paid or not paid) to maybe what % of shots you take are for money and what % of shots you take are for the love of it.

#21 Comment By Mark Holmes On May 24, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

We keep pretending there is a distinction between pro and amateur when:

1. Digital photography is easy. If you never get out of full auto, as long as you shoot within the camera's sweet spot you'll get great results.

2. There's no barrier to entry. No need to buy $300 of film if you want to shoot a wedding. Just go and shoot it.

3. It's ubiquitous. No need for an agent. No limit to where you can sell and who can see it.

4. Buyers are broke. Newspapers and print media is dying. Online media is mostly free. Who you selling to?

5. Individuals won't buy paper. It's a bit difficult to sell your packages for big bucks when everybody knows they can be printed at Walmart for cents.

6. Everybody has a camera and can use it. The bottom has fallen out of the UFO pictures market since nobody can take grainy out-of-focus pictures anymore.

It's time to drop the subject of amateur v pro, old days versus new, state of photography. Times have changed. No doubt there are still celebrity and niche photographers who are doing well, but the space at the top gets smaller and smaller as the tide rolls over to eat away at it.

Image making and creative media continue to develop and we are still at the beginning of the digital age. I recommend we get some articles that look forward instead of flogging a dead horse.

#22 Comment By Dan On May 24, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

A good photographer can make a powerful image with a camera phone. As long as the subject matter, composition and idea is all up to scratch then I think it's possible to ignore deficiencies in quality of the technical details.

#23 Comment By skymyrka On May 24, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

wow, i read some of the comments here, and it's just well... wow.
Don't get me wrong, I still think the article is well... blah! but let's *not* write off the "veterans" of film just yet. For what it's worth, film taught you discipline no auto-metering/exposure could, can and will. Evolution may be moving forward, but "photographers" are retarding in their chimping stance. It's backwards, the more productive equipment is to art, no matter how you spin it. If not for the sheer volume factor which devalues the industry. That's the problem here if anything.

Professionals for whom photography is primary means of income may be far too few in between, but the professional is not dying off.

In reality, it's up to the clients. You want results delivered solidly, reliably, you go with a pro. You want 10xDVDs with shots of success rate 1 out of 100, get $500 wedding photographer, why not! (:

There's also much to be said for separation between am's and pro's simply because it's business vs hobby: different stakes, different attitude, different results. Period. No compromises/truce in that regard there.

#24 Comment By Sharon On May 24, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

Wow, sounds like a lot of sour grapes. Why is Peter so bitter?

#25 Comment By Elene On May 24, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

After I read you post I think you are just upset that you are loosing $$$ but whose fault is that. Mine? Did me , an amateur photographer took your clients? You lost some income? No I did not. And please think of your self when you just started getting good paid jobs. Where you so called PROFESIONAL at that time? There were time when you yourself been so called newbie.
I just want you to read what you wrote from that perspective and see how offending it is.

I will shoot who ever, when ever, for what ever $$$ I decide.
And I do not feel like I have to compromise on something with you.

Best regards.

Newbie :)

#26 Comment By W. Lotus On May 24, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

I used to feel intimidated when I'd encounter other self-titled photographers, see their huge lenses and VERY expensive camera bodies, and listen to them throw around photography lingo as easily as I breathe. It took me a little while to realize, as you pointed out, having a good camera doesn't make you a good photographer. There are people slinging $3,000 of camera equipment and making photos they could have made with a $99 point-and-shoot.

I'm not intimidated, anymore. :-)

About that truce: there will always be professionally trained photographers who will look down their noses at self-trained amateurs or hobbyists whose photos are popular enough for them to make money from them. There will always be self-trained amateurs and hobbyists who think just because they have a camera with a million bells and whistles, they are just as skilled as a professionally trained photographer. All I can do is continue to learn from people like you and pass on what I know just like you pass on what you know. I'm not interested in whether there is a truce, because I'm not jumping into the battle. I'm to busy growing as a photographer.

#27 Comment By ian campbell On May 26, 2011 @ 12:35 am

I think the point was not so much sour grapes as the fact that lower than dirt prices is making it virtually impossible for anyone to make more than a meagre living as a photographer, pro or amateur.
Me, when I used to work for clients I wanted enough from the job to cover the gas to get there, at the very least, not to mention all the other things.
There's nothing wrong with doing a $20 job, but if you only get 4 a week, you're not going to be living off that...

#28 Comment By Carlos On May 26, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

I don't know why saying you're a professional photographer should cause some impact. The problem you see in camera owners versus photographers is the same reason you probably started shooting. If not you, a bunch of others - including me.

#29 Comment By Jeffrey Blake Adams On May 26, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

Lots of great comments here, am v pro is funny, I think we pros should be nurturing and mentoring the newbies, welcome them into the fold and teach them the biz side of it, liabilities and risks so they don't risk their family's futures and do biz correctly.

Their energy and enthusiasm is wonderful, and while its not true anyone with a new DSLR can be a pro over night, the learning curve is faster, not just thx to the cameras, but the info overload available 24/7 on the net.

Some may remember when you had to go to a library, try totranslate to a librarian what you wanted to know, and then dig thru a book, (horrors!) to try and find it...

I have yet to see a fortune 50 company use anything less than pro work to represent themselves, but since the advent of computers and DTP programs on, many many with no budget think they can DIY and make wtvr "good enough" hopefully those clients weren't the market your biz needed.

Those clients usually aren't in biz very long anyway.

There is ALWAYS room for great new talent, it GROWS the entire market.

Yes, newbs w no idea about biz that play at it a year or so, then their spouse complains enough about the expense and quits are sad to see.

Not just for the overall erosion of the perceived value of a product, but for the loss of a talent,,, why not mentor them, and help them succeed??

You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved."
— Ansel Adams

Jus sayin,

#30 Comment By Peter Phun On May 27, 2011 @ 3:17 am

Thank you all for your excellent comments.

I am relieved someone else also thought there were some snarky remarks.

Even when I thought I was trying to be funny in a previous post [2], there were quite a few snarky remarks.

I had feeling this topic would provoke some reaction. It's inevitable when it has to do with pro vs am.

I especially appreciate those who disagreed and did so vehemently.

Whenever I feel compelled to comment on any forum or website, I usually follow the back link to see what kind of work the person I disagree with does and try to get a sense of their persona.

I think it is a disservice to the community when commenters don't give everyone this opportunity by not providing a back link--just a first name.

How else can the community weigh in and decide for themselves who is the one that's been smoking crack. :)

I'm not here to be controversial to drive traffic to my website. Only 14 folks knocked on my door the day the post went live.

It's too bad I was perceived as bitter. It wasn't my intent.

They're only words and ideas.

It's even true that this topic is the proverbial dead horse.

Let's see those complaining step up then.

Thank you Tom Grier for reminding everyone that this is a very high paying gig and posters should be subjected to as much ridicule as possible 😉 I owe you a beer.

#31 Comment By John L. Shinn III On May 27, 2011 @ 7:35 am

Like Peter, I, too, started shooting with film.....spent countless hours in the darkroom learning from my mistakes...
I reluctantly joined the digital bandwagon in 1997 when DSLRs were priced somewhere around $12,000---when I bought my first digital camera (a Canon PowerShot 600) for $1,200.
I never looked back since because as a freelance photojournalist based in Los Angeles...most of my expenses went to developing and printing as well as buying rolls of film.
Today, fourteen years later, I found myself in an entirely new job working as a "paparazzo" here in Hollywood.
Of the 400+ "paps" in Los Angeles, only about 20% photographers who can considered professionals in the sense that they know what they're doing. The rest were pizza delivery drivers, waiters, valet parking attendants, a few homeless vets and other professions totally unrelated to photography---who simply tune their camera's shooting dials to program mode.
In some instances, I find myself shooting a known celebrity along with 5 or 6 of them. While I have that many competitor shooting the same subject, I'm the least worried since I know my images will always come out better than theirs.
One day, one of them---the guy who used to deliver pizzas---asked me why, after his boss to bought him a $7,000 Canon camera---his images of Tom Cruise were still blurry of too soft.
When he showed me his gear I found out that he was, as I expcted, shooting on program mode with 100 ISO. Not only that, while his camera was a top-of-the-line EOS 1, his lens was a $150 70-300mm Canon lens.
Even if he had all the right gear, I knew he still would not get any celebrity photos that would sell. Why? Simply because he has no background in photography.
And this is where you separate the pros and the amateur hobbyists.

#32 Comment By John L. Shinn III On May 27, 2011 @ 7:57 am

I started shooting with film back in 1982.....spent countless hours in the darkroom learning from my mistakes...

I reluctantly joined the digital bandwagon in 1997 when DSLRs were priced somewhere around $12,000---when I bought my first digital camera (a Canon PowerShot 600) for $1,200.

I never looked back since because as a freelance photojournalist based in Los Angeles...most of my expenses went to developing and printing as well as buying rolls of film.

Today, fourteen years later, I found myself in an entirely new job working as a "paparazzo" here in Hollywood.

Of the 400+ "paps" in Los Angeles, only about 20% photographers can considered professionals in the sense that they know what they're doing. The rest were pizza delivery drivers, waiters, valet parking attendants, a few homeless vets and other professions totally unrelated to photography---who simply turn their camera's shooting dials to program mode.

In some instances, I find myself shooting a known celebrity along with 5 or 6 of them. While I have that many competitor shooting the same subject, I'm the least worried since I know my images will always come out better than theirs.

One day, one of them---the guy who used to deliver pizzas---asked me why, after his boss to bought him a $7,000 Canon camera---his images of Tom Cruise were still blurry---or too soft.

When he showed me his gear I found out that he was, as I expected, shooting on program mode with 100 ISO. Not only that, while his camera was a top-of-the-line EOS 1, his lens was a $150 70-300mm Canon lens.

Even if he had all the right gear, I knew he still would not get any celebrity photos that would sell. Why? Simply because he has no background in photography.

And this is where you separate the pros and the amateur hobbyists.

#33 Comment By Jay DeSimone On May 27, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

I'm not a pro, just a hobbyist who enjoys taking photographs. I have a prosumer DSLR. I also shoot B&W film, and have a darkroom. I'm one of those people who hears regularly, "You should be selling your work!" The problem is, I recognize that those comments come from people who really aren't that great at evaluating a photograph. I don't allow myself to be deluded into thinking it would be worthwhile...I know where I need to develop my skill, and I wouldn't want to be in the position to have to deliver or else. I've been to weddings where my camera is more modern than the hired pro's is, and was noticed by him, and thanked, because I wasn't obnoxious trying to get the same shots as him...I stayed out of his way. I had no illusions about his pics being far better than mine, esp. since I wasn't using a flash to avoid accidentally blowing his shots.

I think the pros that have a real problem with this are the ones who are at the lower end of the pro scale. They take pretty good shots, better than the average amateur, but they're threatened by the more skilled amateur who offers better or equivalent photos for substantially less. Pros who can back up their high fees with high quality will get business from those who want high quality and can afford it. Amateurs who take ho-hum or borderline lousy pics that look more like snaps will get business from people who can't afford better. They are two separate markets, much like Hyundai and Ferrari. If there were only Ferraris for sale, most people wouldn't drive. The introduction of Hyundais into the market wouldn't cut into Ferrari's business, because the people buying Hyundais wouldn't have bought a Ferrari.

#34 Comment By Stanley Leary On May 27, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

I believe all great pros are also great amateurs. The word has it's roots in the Latan Amator meaning lover.

When it comes to the client experience the one who is focused more on the client and giving them what they need and want with a little icing on the cake is the one who will be hired again and again.

For me a real pro is defined over time in that they remain shooting for a living after 3 years. I think it takes this long to build a reputation and most will fail long before then.

Pro verses amateur to me is not always about how good your pictures are, but more about how happy your clients are with you.

#35 Comment By Jeff Settle On June 8, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

Our problem is not each other. There have always been pros and amateurs; good and poor of each.

A friend told me about a customer she had. This images were placed onto one of the expensive online services for ordering. The customer had saved screen prints, watermark included, and printed them at home.

The real problem is that the customer considered them 'good enough' and didn't understand or respect copyright. She may have also figured that whatever she could do, she had a right to do.

No one survives by marketing to ignorant customers.

#36 Comment By Jim Duncan On June 8, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

If you are still competing against 'amateurs' for work, it's likely you might not be as 'professional' as you think you are.

Did you buy your camera and immediately say "I'm going to become a professional!?"

Your attitude is very pompus and, as many here point out, juvenile and UNPROFESSIONAL!

It's like screaming "I AM COOL!" If you have to tell everyone you are, then likely you are NOT!

#37 Comment By Talbert McMullin On June 16, 2011 @ 11:26 pm

Good proposition. Amateurs don't bother me. I beat amateurs all the time for one simple reason: I will do what amateurs won't.

I do not confuse equipment with ability. I do not get discouraged and give up--I find a way or I make one. I never forget that one of my intentions is to make money. I do not accept the philosophy that says digital is replacing film--I accept them both as separate media for different purposes. I don't let foul weather stop me from shooting. I don't have the notion that I know everything. I study photography and learn something new every week.

What do you think, Phil?

#38 Comment By Talbert McMullin On June 16, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

Excuse me! I meant to say, What do you think, Peter?

#39 Comment By Will Childress On June 20, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

Firstly, I am merely a dad with new babies and a camera. I am not nor will I ever attempt to make money taking pictures or offer my time and equipment in place of a professional.

In every profession you have someone with less skill trying to peel off his little piece of the money pie. The important part of being a real pro is the professionalism part. Customers are ignorant. If they knew all about photography they would know the difference between a pro and amateur. They would also be able to take the photos themselves. It is the duty of the professional photography to educate them. Maybe solving that issue will help you avoid competing / hating the pro wannabe.

I've been able to glean just a few points from this thread that would help me pick my next photographer.
1) From Talbert - someone with the right attitude and equipment to shoot in foul weather.
2) From Jeff Settle - someone who knows to put transparent layers over their images so that a user can't right-click and save the image.
3) From Peter Phun himself - someone who is more than willing to do poster size prints.

Maybe posting a "How to spot a Pro" article will serve better purpose.

#40 Comment By Ryan Courson On June 25, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

I've read this article as a new photographer with a pro photographer attitude. The last thing that I want to do is pass myself off as something that I'm not. I've spent a great deal of time researching and studying other very talented photographers. During my research, I've come across many "professional" photographers who, to my amazement, passed themselves off as pros.
I've been at it about a year and within that year, been hired by 2 magazines and picked up by a publisher. That's what makes a photographer a professional.

#41 Comment By jose On July 16, 2011 @ 9:17 am

This may sound strange and out of the topic but please be kind to understand my point (as a part of the truce).
I am a professional airline pilot, that´s my job, I learned to fly in a fabric body airplane with no flight instruments at all, just a couple of gauges and two wings, I learned to navigate with a big and complicated paper chart and also I used to calculate fuel consumption and descents in my brain. Then the years passed, and today I find myself in a last generation glass cockpit, in my right there´s a 23 year old copilot who didn´t even knows needles inside a gauge existed ever and guess what! his logbook says he´s a PROFESSIONAL PILOT! and guess what HE IS A PROFESSIONAL PILOT! even if old school pilots don´t like it, if he can take off, fly and land safely and sometimes even better than I do then..........I´m OK with him making money as a PRO.
By the way, I started with film, I studied a professional photography diploma (and I´m not a PRO), I don´t print my pictures,or sell them, I love photoshop, I spend my money in expensive gear when I can etc...and I belive that everyone has the right to shoot and sell the way they want, and call themselves however they want, the market is tough right? just show your PRO skills and beat them, don´t hate them.
Thanks for letting me give my opinion in this "truce"

#42 Comment By MM On July 22, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

All these stories of who is what and how good they are are meaningless.

Photography was not devalued by advanced amatuer/hobbyist/newbie-DSLR shooters charging low fees. Photography was devalued when any joe-blow could buy a decent point and shoot camera and take a decent picture.

At that point, their willingness to pay for expensive pro photography was diminished considerably. That created a market for the advanced amateur to take a better picture than an iPhone or cheapo P&S could produce, and charge a little money for it to cover some expenses.

If a pro is honestly threatened by advanced amateurs then they are probably working in the wrong market. Don't blame the advanced amateur for being willing to service the "middle" market.

The advanced amateur may get a wedding or two, or may get a few pictures published in a magazine. But the advanced amateur will never work 40-50 weddings per year or get the cover of Vogue.

Pros need to realize that the market split into cheap and expensive, and decide which one to work. Work in the cheap market and you need to do tons of volume. Work in the high end market and that cover just may pay the rent for a year.

But as was said, there's plenty of pictures to be taken out there- plenty of room for all.

#43 Comment By Karen Johnson On July 23, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

I get it.
You're old school.
That makes you better than me.
So what?

#44 Comment By declan hehir On July 26, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

peter has a good point, for many of us been a photographer is a full-time job, paying morgage, kids education, putting food on the table. To earn a living you have to have the gift of photography, but since digital, the whole business has been over-run with people entering the business of photography and everybody's income has suffered.The market has been flooded with people wanting to be a photographer and is causing a serious crisis in the business. And lets face it any fool can take a photograph, but have you talent and can you make a living from it. These are big questions

#45 Comment By Wil On July 27, 2011 @ 9:00 am

I've been a professional photographer for years and I think your comments wreak of smugness and arrogance. I'm disgusted at the way you guise your sarcasm and petty comments under the cover of a proposed truce.

Photography is not the dark art it used to be back in the day, times are changing and you can plead insincerely to the enthusiasts to stop telling everybody that they can do everything for half price but you can't do anything to stop it. get over yourself and move forward with the rest of the world for crying out loud. Amateurs making you worry about your bottom line? - you come off extremely insecure to have invested this much time to communicate your point so smug in this article.

#46 Comment By Talbert McMullin On July 27, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

Wil, you talking to all of us?

Yes, many, if not most people have some strange ideas about photography. So, many average Joes think that all there is to photography is aim, press the button, and let the camera do the work. Isn't it strange how when they need a photographer at the office party how often they ask if you would take photos? (That has happened many times.) I do not argue with those people. And I do not take photos at the office party. I do something different: I show them a photo of my 4x5 with the bellows extended all the way!!!! This usually shuts them up. I tell them that I do not own a digital camera and their jaws drop to the floor!!

Yes, I went right back to 4x5 film photography! Now if you shoot large format and have also used smaller formats, you know the difference between the two. Rank amateurs don't know much about large format photography. It's a mystery to them. They don't understand it. They are intimidated by a 4x5 camera.

Are you getting the picture?

#47 Comment By Kathy Nairn On July 28, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

@Jeffrey Blake Adams: Bravo! Nice to see someone else agrees with 'taking the bull by the horns and teaching it new tricks.'

@MM: Photography wasn't devalued when "any Joe-Blow could buy a decent Point & Shoot." That would mean that this industry hasn't been profitable for over 10 years. It became devalued when many people were forced to seek alternative methods of income during the economic downturn and at the same time, camera mfrs made their entry level DSLRS more affordable during the same time frame. People also dusted off their cameras after realizing there was some decent money to be made in this industry DURING THIS TIME. Hence, the over-saturated markets. Unfortunately, many people are not 'confident' of running a business and many never have. Thus, we see failure. So while they are trying to justify charging market and competitive rates for labor and product, they don't realize that they are under-cutting (under-bidding) the work. If it's a temporary financial resolve, many will not charge market rate. If it's a long term goal and definite change of career, they will do the research and know what the market can bare.

Your neighbor may have been a damn good hobbyist and never thought of doing it as a business until their Unemployment check stopped arriving in the mail. On the other hand, this industry may have topped out just like many others and it took the down economy to turn it upside right (? debate-able I'm sure). Now, everyone is looking to blame someone. I say move past it, get over it and help your neighbor learn the ropes so everyone can prosper together and clients benefit too, and in more ways than one. Additionally, it will create more jobs. 😉

#48 Comment By Talbert McMullin On July 29, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

@Kathy:The difference in successful people and those who are not is that the successful people will do what the unsuccessful people will not do.

Digital photography is a primary example. The public is currently dazzled with technology and embrace it quickly. Pros are not dazzled until they evaluate it carefully and consider all the good and the bad. When the dazzle wears off (and it will) amateurs will realize that they are just that.

Photography is a business for me. The business gets what it needs. Period. Sooner or later, professional wannabes learn there is more to pro photography than just clicking the shutter. Marketing your product is the most difficult part of your business and only true entrepreneurs know that.

#49 Comment By declan hehir On July 30, 2011 @ 7:47 am

I would say over the last twenty years i would have encouraged new photographers into the business, there was'nt that many. I had a good working relationship with all my fellow photographers, but in recent times, there has been a flood of people entering the markets, some part-time, with government jobs to supplement their income, people retired with big redundancies ect, all with-in a small area. Of course for those in the business awhile it means we have to dig deeper, work harder, but we have to face up to the fact that the market is over saturated and that there are going to be casualties. There are no guidelines that could regulate the business so that it would be more sustainable for those trying to make a living out of it

#50 Comment By Talbert McMullin On July 30, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

@Declan: Looks like you hit the nail directly on the head! There has been a tremendous influx of new self-proclaimed "photographers" in the past several years. There has also been an increase in the number of self-employed "painters", "landscapers", "house cleaners" and all manner of "professions". This is symptomatic of the horrible economy we are all in. Better hold on, it's gonna get worse before it gets better.

#51 Comment By rose On August 4, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

I agree with you and I'm fairly a newbie in photography, I've only been shooting professionally for 3 years. However, as a Graphic Designer/Web Designer for over 12 years, I understand your points. Many of the things I learned in school that took hours in photoshop can be accomplished in two steps on a plug-in for lightroom/aperture...also...even on the iphone now!

Technology has come a long way, but I agree that learning the ART takes time and practice and really learning your craft. My background also is journalism. I began to study the old pictures of Time Life, and the photographers behind them..learned about hEnri cartier bresson and wanted to look through his eyes. I started to get involved in the"lomography" movemet and learned about old film cameras....I wanted to go backwards!

and so here I am..still learning...any photographer that thinks they know it all is just that, a know it all....as for the customers who buy the cheap stuff...you can compare that to the customers who would pay 250,000 for a 200 year old painting. Yes, most of the bread and butter today are brides and families, but you will have those brides etc who value the art of photography and pay for it. The only ones really hurting are those photogs that underprice themselves.

#52 Comment By Paul Danger Kile On August 10, 2011 @ 6:34 am

If I run a foundry, and we are in a recession, then I am NOT going to hire a professional photographer, I AM going to buy aluminum. We ARE in a recession, and complaining that your fans, the ones that love your work so-much that they want to be you, are devaluing your work is pathetic. Imagine if professional ball players complained because anyone can buy a good basketball these days?

Everybody starts somewhere, and technology is making everything easier, that means that you pros can produce more, it doesn't mean that I am, or ever will be a pro.

My ability to put photos on the Internet is irrelevant. The magazines don't accept unsolicited photos, and people that need pros do not accept unsolicited photos.

#53 Comment By Talbert McMullin On August 10, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

Paul, I think you are completely missing the point. Trying to explain why you are missing the point would be a waste of time and energy.

#54 Comment By Krystal C. On August 10, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

My husband is a pro, with more than 30 years under his belt, I have been a 'semi-pro'. The one at work that everyone gave the camera to to get everyone in the shot.. and then I started working as an assistant to my husband shooting weddings then after many classes I felt comfortable as a second shooter.

After six years of exclusively weddings we are opening up a 'brick and mortar' shop to showcase our work and to have a place to shoot during Illinois winters. I told the people at my work that was what I was doing, and the first thing out of most of their mouths was how I should charge very little, (give it away pricing) so I would have 'lots of business'. In my town of 8,000 there are about 8 mom's with cameras that are doing that and 1 pro (Master CPP photog) who charges the price range I am looking at in town.

I've done the marketing classes, and read the benchmark surveys. In order to pay my bills, including insurance, rent and household bills I need to make $X per year.. which means I can do 400 sessions Okay, or 150 great sessions with great results. As well as our wedding photography.

It was hard to come up with real numbers. But if someone wants to do photography full time, they need to know what it takes to do it.

I'm all for people taking images as a hobby, but when they would have to shoot 50 sessions to pay for the camera and lens that they are using; it makes you realize that they are doing it for fun, and not because they are looking at income.

#55 Comment By Paul Danger Kile On August 10, 2011 @ 11:45 pm


I was not directing my comments in your direction. If that's what it looked like, then I am truly sorry.

I agree with every comment made by the amateurs above. Many of those comments cover the same ground that I did.

I am a 43-year-old man; I know exactly who I am. I am not going to stop "when the dazzle wears off."

The economy is the real reason that business is tough.

So why did I use the word “pathetic”? Here’s what I was thinking: I have had two of my favorite photographers; write some pretty nasty things about amateurs, on Facebook:
-- One told a story that included, "and then the fists were flying," why were the fists flying? Because someone at the racetrack admitted that he didn’t get paid to take photos.
-- The other one used a derogatory word for amateurs, and claimed that they were hurting his business, multiple times.
-- A third photographer also claimed that he would assault other adults, but his ire was directed at the racers themselves.

Here is what I was trying to say in less abstract terms:
-- These three people weren’t losing business, because of the racers and the amateur photographers. The economy affects the racers directly. Some of them lost work, and most of them lost sponsors. They need to buy fuel and tires, and those things are extremely expensive. If they don’t buy a pro’s photo, that’s about the fuel, and the tires, and not the pro’s expertise.
-- The pros biggest fans in motorsports are amateur photographers, and racers. These are also the people that read their words on Facebook.
-- Calling their biggest fans names, or threatening to assault them, even in jest, is pathetic.

I know that there are professionals in other areas of photography that have the same wrong beliefs.

Have fun,

#56 Comment By Andrew On August 16, 2011 @ 7:36 pm


How about that for a truce: I promise I will do *everything* you do, with the same quality, composition, lighting, direction, image processing and everything else think you have -- for FREE. And you -- you will carry on whining? Also, for free? How do you feel about that kind of truce?

My point is that I have steady income from my day job and photography for me is a form of entertainment. But I think I'm good at it and I can do a lot -- it's just that I'm lazy and not interested. Therefore, I don't charge for my services. And more than that, I spend my time and money to educate myself (you also missed that point: nowadays we have Kelby TV and Strobist and numerous ways to quickly ramp up the knowledge -- to learn *exactly* same things that you discovered over the years using your "try-and-fail" method).

The thing is -- the world has changed. The ship has sailed. Easy photography business has tanked and won't emerge ever again. Quit.

You remind me of a typewriter dealer complaining about "how easy it is to write using computers nowadays".

#57 Comment By Talbert McMullin On August 17, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

Andrew, I don't know what Peter thinks, but I think you're bonkers, and I'm getting a good laugh at your post. Point is, when you try to get something for nothing, you usually get nothing for something. If your services and product cost nothing, they they are probably worth nothing.

If I charged nothing for my services and products, I would not brag about it.

#58 Comment By Paul Danger Kile On August 17, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

If you are a guy like Stuart Little, or Trey Ratcliff, then you have fans who are amateur photographers, so you teach classes to them. If you aren't that good, then you just insult them online, and hope they will go away. It's anywhere from unprofessional to pathetic, but that's what these people do.

This movie describes exactly why we do it: [3]

#59 Comment By oliver On September 11, 2011 @ 6:20 am

Guys, being a photographer doesnt require any license, exams, or any certifications, so whenever a "pro" charges higher than the "hobbyists", there is still no way to whine about it because the beauty of photography is freedom of expression. I knew a couple, who was charged a much higher price than the usual for their anniversary, the guy just bought a new camera instead of paying the "pro", so who's fault is that?! he can get the same quality pictures, with the same price, on top of that, he has a high end DSLR to wipe to the face of the "pro"

#60 Comment By Paul Danger Kile On September 11, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

Great photography is a struggle for me. I am no Trey Ratcliffe. I am not even an Uno, or Dos, Ratcliffe [obligatory_rimshot/] (I don't know where Trey is from, but Texans usually have a second generation Junior, and that person always uses the name "Trey", even though that's not his wallet name.)

Anyway. I went to the website of a pro that is rude about amateurs, to see what his pics were like. There were ahandful of low-rez pics there. Three of those four are worse than what I delete. That's r

#61 Comment By Paul Danger Kile On September 11, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

D'oh! That's what I get for writing on a tiny phone screen... Anyway, the proof is in the photos. It's just as Oliver says. There is no licencing test. No State Medical Board. Nothing. It's like that with computer programmers. I only worked with a few that were really bad. They were better at acing an interview than actually doing the job. Photography is like that. One might be able to get work, based on claiming, "I have been a pro for 30 years," or whatever, but the proof is in the photos.

#62 Comment By Talbert McMullin On September 11, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

Hey, Paul. How about a link to the website of that rude photographer?

#63 Comment By Paul Danger Kile On September 11, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

No thank you. There are many sites where people are upset about amateurs calling themselves photographers. It could be any of those people on any of those sites. If your photos are exceptional, and I have no reason to believe they aren't, then no worries.

#64 Comment By Talbert McMullin On September 11, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

Aw, come on Paul! Be a sport!

#65 Comment By Andrew On September 11, 2011 @ 10:30 pm


There's absolutely zero correlation between price you're paying and quality you're getting. For instance, I think you really overpaid for your website: I found 3 issues on different pages there. Even if you got it for free, its still was too much. One can only hope to get good quality by paying lots of money for something -- but without good quality control on customer's part the result will always be worthless. Your website design, functionality and content is a prime case in point.

All in all, the bottom has fallen out of the professional photography market. There's nothing any of us can do about it. The technical knowledge that took pros decades to master now available for $19.99 a month in unimaginable quantities. One can spend day, week, month, year and learn things that took others a lifetime to learn. One's lifetime stride to learn all technical aspects of photography worth exactly that: $19.99 a month.

And as you pointed exactly right, since that lifetime experience nowaday costs virtually nothing, it worth virtually nothing as well.

#66 Comment By Talbert McMullin On September 11, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

Andrew: Yeah, I had to rebuild that site. It was attacked by a hacker in France. I learned my lesson on that one and that was to update my template when the distributor tells me to!

#67 Comment By Paul Danger Kile On September 12, 2011 @ 1:11 am

It's like that for computer programmers that don't have salaried IT positions too. During the recession that they called dotBomb, 78,000 IT and telecom workers lost their jobs in the Dallas Metroplex alone.

The magazines wrote about Silicon Valley startups tanking, but it affected entire cities. My house was in a housing complex just north of Telecom Corridor and most of my neighbors had foreclosures.

The economy does come back, but these are jobs that can be put off. New Human Resources System? Yeah, we are going to put that aside and buy some more aluminum, because we can only afford raw materials now. The boss is getting married? He didn't get that bonus, so instead of a professional photographer his brother is going to help out.

That's what's happened. It has nothing to do with the number of amateurs that post, and saying so just means they need to follow someone who figured out how to make them a into a fan and customer, and not you.

#68 Comment By Talbert McMullin On September 12, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

Wow, Paul, nice glum picture you present for us, not that the most observant of us suspected. For those of you who expect things to get better, don't hold your breath.

The business of photography (and everything else) will continue to change, sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worst. We just don't know. That kind of uncertainty makes for a very unstable economic situation.

What a wonderful time to be retired!

#69 Comment By Demon Lee On September 21, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

I do shoot Digital, but many clients are now beginning to understand why I never sold my Canon 1N 35mm or my Bronica ETRSi (6x6) when the see and hold a real print with real negatives, so I never feel threatened by weekend warriors or wannabes, because the dark art of Developing and Printing Film was lost to most a generation ago..!!

When the camera on your phone is as good a a cheap DSLR, most of them will disappear back into the woodwork again and the Pro's will get on with what they have always done - watch the next 5yrs, even the camera manufacturers are expecting this.

#70 Comment By Talbert McMullin On September 21, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

Demon, are you thinking that camera manufacturers will start making more film cameras again? What about film manufacturers? You think film will be around in five years?

#71 Comment By Demon Lee On September 21, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

Talbert, I don't think there will be much change in the current situation with film and film camera production and use, it has pretty much settled down now, but to give you an example of the problem, whilst at my Suppliers last Saturday picking up a replacement 50mm Lens, an elderly lady just off on holiday came in and picked up 12 rolls of APS Film...!!!

I think the main shift we will see next is that with improvements in technology, the entry level DSLRs will disappear as who will want one when they can shoot on the latest camera phones? Much of what we have seen with Camera Owners calling themselves photographers is because they are taught photoshop etc and not photography, so when they can shoot and be happy with a pic off a phone, these amatuers will disappear from the market and manufacturers such as Canon and Nikon will concentrate again on the Pro DSLR Cameras and Digital Film Cameras (like the RED) and the pro-sumer market will dry up...

For Digital I shoot on a Canon 1Ds MKIII with a MKII as a backup, but when I stick the 70-200mm L Series Lens on my Canon 1N 35mm and I print landscapes or portraits at A3+, the quality is amazing, the depth of field beautiful... in fact, I would say the advancement of quality in Lens Production makes shooting on film even more enjoyable now. I managed to get an adaptor to use my EOS Lenses on the Bronica thinking that if I never got any decent results, it was still £49.99 well spent, but the 24-105mm (f4) and the 85mm (f1.2) give incredible results..

I will keep an open mind on the future, over my 27yrs I have seen many changes and I am likely to live to an age where I will see many more!

#72 Comment By Talbert McMullin On September 21, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

Good points! I've been into photography 42 years now. Film is getting better, though I miss K25.

#73 Comment By Demon Lee On September 21, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

K-25 (195-2001 RIP) Now you are talking Photography... originally a derivitive of the Film Industry available (in slower versions) this was in a class of it's own and it's a shame that Kodak would not licence continued production to a smaller company to carry on producing it for us boring old farts.. I would kill for some rolls to shoot it again...

When starting out I did an apprenticeship backed by Kodak and Agfa (before they agreed a common developing process for Tranny and Negs) in Processing and learned that a lot of professionals shot on K-25 and the company putting me through the apprenticeship made 5x4 Negs from them the quality was that good...

We will have to cut this out, the others will get bored with us old guys chatting about 'the good ol days' ha ha, many of them will have never enjoyed the pleasure of film, the hours spent huddled over an enlarger (I started of with a Zenith and ended up with a Durst L1200)

Interestingly however, coming back to film the biggest market has been Eastern European Countries over the last few years, film is King in places like Lithuania..!!!

#74 Comment By Alab del Rosario On April 18, 2012 @ 12:19 am

What's wrong with using Kit Lens ? I can duplicate the effect of your f/1.2 aperture in photoshop in two minutes

#75 Comment By William On August 15, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

I've been interested in photography since i was a child, however, growing up during the 80's cameras still used film and my parents were not willing to spend the money needed to feed my hobby as they saw it. Now, I'm married, kids of my own, with a new canon. I respect those who used film and are able to develop photos the old way, to me that is not only a profession skill but it's an art all in itself. I am currently taking lessons to learn how to use manual mode, to use external flash, remote flash, reflectors etc. It's time consuming and difficult at times to try to take a great shot all through manual mode and do little editing on photoshop. I believe what it is said, the better you take a photo, the less time you have to use photoshop to fix up your mistakes. I am still a newbie at this, however, I do get annoyed at seeing people use automatic, program setting all the time, point and shoot, and than use software to make their photo "perfect." To me, the individual did not learn nor did he/she appreciate the work he/she should have put in. I know when I take a photo, no matter how long it takes me to get it done correctly, I feel a great sense of pride in seeing the results and even more pride in hearing individuals compliment the work, especially those who are emerse in photography. I take pride in learning the correct way and I do my very best not to take the easy way out. I think what makes a professional photographer a professional is not only his/her career resume but the method they use, the time and energy they take to sit, wait, stalk for the shot they need and if they don't see it, to create it through a vision. Anyone can point and shoot and photoshop, but in my opinion the real photographer is the one that takes the time to make the perfect shot by using the environment and the manual methods. Thats just my humble opinion.

#76 Comment By Talbert McMullin On August 15, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

@alab: Yes you can do that but it looks like Photoshop. Yes, I use it...minimally. I'm like William, I started with film in 1970 and did not start shooting digital until about eight years ago. If you never shot Kodachrome 25 using a 4x5, you cannot imagine what I am talking about. My 4x5 "chromes" have been in dark storage ever since and they look as good now as they did when I first shot them in 1975. Idea: Find someone who shot Kodachrome 25 or for that matter K64 in any format and ask to take a glance at the slides. It will blow your mind.

Yes, I still shoot 4x5 sans Kodachrome. But Velvia 50 is still with us and is not bad either as long as you don't photograph people. Like I said, find someone who used to shoot Kodachrome (any format) and see what I mean.

#77 Comment By Fahmid On October 8, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

Well as basic economics price will fall for anything when supply is exceeding the demand.With the help of technology. now a days anyone who is a little serious can take a descent photo. Like any other art being a good photographer takes time, study and practice.How many of your client can appreciate a good photo rather that a photo being glamorous and high resolution? I think there line is blurry between pro & armature in lower & middle market but at top market only pro will take the photos. (pro does not only mean you are a good photographer but you know how to sell what you produce with a good margin).

#78 Comment By Alex On November 16, 2012 @ 2:02 am

Anthony Hereld you are so right! I couldn't have said it better myself.

"Yet another "photography is dead" type article from a pro photographer. This is 2011. No one cares if you used to shoot film, and it certainly doesn't add any credibility. It's the modern day equivalent of walking uphill both ways to school.

What you "old pros" need to get a handle on is your outdated business practices. You don't own the market anymore, the internet and social media has changed all that...forever. It's not about your 20 years experience or darkroom war stories. The consumer cares about price and the final product.

If you guys were half as good about marketing yourselves as you are about whining, this would be a non-issue."


"If we old pros promise not to snicker when we see you shoot on program mode and light a group of 20 people with your built-in pop-up flash and kit lens, will you newbies stop telling photography customers that you can do everything we can do for half the price?

Sounds fair enough to me."

Yeah, that sounds like you're asking for a truce. Stop crying about this, you started somewhere too. And lets be honest, not everyone wants to spend thousands to work with someone as condescending as you.

#79 Comment By Luke On December 12, 2012 @ 12:01 am

You can always tell the wannabe pros on posts like this. They always mention someone "shooting on program mode" or using "a cheapie lens." None of that matters, and if you're a real pro you know that it's not your gear that makes you a "pro." It's your ability to bring home the pictures (and in turn, the bacon) regardless of whether you're shooting with a bag of $10000 cameras and lenses or a pinhole. Lots of your idol photographer use program mode, believe it or not. To think that someone using program mode is an indication of "amateurish" behaviour only points YOU out as the amateur.

#80 Comment By fikree fauzi On December 17, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

i'm working as a full time photographer, capturing political occasions... i started using camera in the digital era and have no idea what is darkroom, we keep shooting a thousand and thousand picture and select just a few picture...

personally i think this is a bad habit as a photographer, they keep shooting everything even its not important...

recently I made my own effort to learn using 35mm film, its very slow process but i tell you what... the slow process allow me to think about the subject and 1 roll 36exposure actually teach me how to appreciate the moment and i can put the feeling into it.... that's actually the meaning of 'capturing vs shooting '...

now give the new camera owner 36 shot, i swear they gonna say 'its impossible'.. that's the reality.

#81 Comment By Debbie On January 8, 2013 @ 2:59 am

This is a question for the professionals. Two years ago, I decided that I would like to become a photographer. I am currently unemployed; I worked all of my life until ten years ago when my husband and I adopted our granddaughter. The daycare closed and I live in a small town without many jobs available. I had noone to care for my granddaughter so I decided to stay home with her. I have always enjoyed taking pictures. Last year I worked part-time for a professional photographer and attended several classes she offered. I have been otherwise studying on my own and aquiring professional equipment over the past two years. At this time I have all of the equipment I need to start my business, I've learned photoshop on my own and taught myself how to use my DSLR. I have not been to a photography school, but I am in the process of getting certified online with a school. I feel that I am just about ready to start my business, but my question to you professional photographers is........at what point can I call myself a professional photographer? I have not yet made any money because I have not yet charged anyone, but I have had people to ask me to take pictures for them. I personally do not want to say I am a "professional" until I feel that I have earned it; was just wondering what I had to do to get to that point? This is meant as a statemen from someone seeking help, not someone being ficious.

#82 Comment By azdustdevil On January 14, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

Debbie, there are several sites on the web that give you a general idea of how much to charge. Those change so find a good one and bookmark it for future reference.

Also, if you have a day job, keep it. If you don't get many sales, just relax and enjoy it as a serious hobby anyway.

Good luck to you!

#83 Comment By Alex Neville On January 23, 2013 @ 4:34 am

Noahs Ark was built by amateurs- it was professionals who built the titanic!

#84 Comment By Trevor C On February 11, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

"Camera Owners Aren’t the Same as Photographers." Either are people that hold certificates from some photographic schools, it only means that they have studied photography for a short time but you can do the same privately without obtaining a certificate. I have been a photographer and studied photography since 1953 but do not hold certification. Does this mean I am just a camera owner and not a photographer? Pompous dope. Pull your head out of your own arse.

#85 Comment By Martin Bayhorse On February 15, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

Im actually quite surprised at the amount of negative responses to this article. I don't have time to read every one But I support the article entirely. Even going back to the advent of all auto everything cameras, the business of photog changed Not only the auto everything but personal computers and the web as well Way too much subject matter out there and now everyone with a damn smart phone thinks there an accomplished photog somehow and it does burn my a@@. A publication I hold a freelance contract with has changed so much in how they do business I don't even ask for an editorial schedule anymore. They fill their pages with some of the worst imagery Ive ever seen in print with submissions from sloppy novices just happy to see their name in print. Month after month Its become nothing more than a beginners photo contest "literally" and they used to publish images and articles by pros the likes of which could be seen in National Geo. Sad but true. Thank god the one thing you cant really teach or install in a cam is REAL creativity.

#86 Comment By Cate On March 8, 2013 @ 11:33 am

I have to say, I agree with Peter too. I am a hobbyist and love photography. I am self taught so I do use digital photo software to "enhance" my "forgivable errors" and I make a few print sales from my website now and then but, it is not enough to pay the rent or consider myself a full time professional photographer. I am still learning and loving it, growing into my niche and spend all of my "free" time with my camera taking photos as I can.

Now, with all that said I also agree that if someone hires a photographer no matter what the price that the photographer, accepting the job, will provide professional work and not assume the client does not know the difference between a point and shoot shot and a well thought out image creation. They do and will not be happy with the photographer, whose credibility has been compromised, especially by customer word of mouth.

No matter what our photographic level we need to respect each other as photographers, - especially the photographers who have put in a lot of time, money and effort to become highly skilled artisans - learn from them and each other and enjoy the freedom to express our talents as we see fit.

#87 Comment By Jon On April 10, 2013 @ 10:42 am

I am not a photographer, I am a hobbyist. I get fed up of this silly debate all the time!!!!!!!!

#88 Comment By h On April 24, 2013 @ 5:00 am

Agree with you 100%. I'm a painter but I also spent a ton of money and HOURS learning my craft, and resent that people keep saying "I don't need to buy a painting. I paint and so does grandma." As a side note, could all you photographers please, for the love of god stop printing your photos on canvas? You're killing us here. And it's cheesy as F***.

#89 Comment By Beth On May 26, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

I'm SO on board with this 1000%! I keep thinking about where I was just 4 or 5 years ago and I thank the generosity of people like those over at [4] for having the passion as pros to share everything they know with the newbies. (and other pros too!)

Like you mention, we can't be everywhere to shoot everything so if you usually shoot weddings and want to transition into something like commercial photography there will be a learning curve for that and it's nice to know that there ARE people out there who will help you learn all you can. If more seasoned photogs help the newbies to grow their skills and understand their value, the whole industry benefits!

#90 Comment By Carol D On May 27, 2013 @ 5:06 am

As a former professional singer, and a current photography hobbyist, I've always felt very guilty for saying "yes" to friends who ask me to shoot their special event or family. No more, I say. To the guilt, that is.

Here's the thing. As much as some professional photographers hate the hobbyists for taking valuable business away from them (or the perception that hobbyists are taking business away from them) the truth of the matter is that many people will never be able to afford a pro. So it comes down to taking pictures themselves, which at a minimum will prevent them from fully engaging in and enjoying their event, or asking a hobbyist friend whose work they happen to like. I've never charged anyone a cent for what I do, but I certainly do the very best work that I'm capable of for my friends. I also make sure they know that if they want professional shots (and the many services that are often associated with that, such as professional print options), they need to go to a professional and pay the market price for those services. But I have to say that the rancor that comes from some pros is pretty surprising. I never felt any bad feelings for the amateur singers that sang at weddings I could have charged significantly for. For some people it's a cost decision and for others it's a sentimental decision. I respect that. As long as I'm not trying to portray myself as anything other than a hobbyist who thinks acts of service are an important part of life, why would you care? FYI, I've hired many a professional photographer for the events that are most important to me and I've always been happy that I did. But I'll continue to enjoy my hobbies, including photography, and If my growing skill can help a friend who would otherwise go without, I'm going to help, guilt-free now.

#91 Comment By Chris On June 3, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

Adapt or die. Just because a computer works better than a ruler and pencil doesn't mean the new engineers aren't as good as the old guys. We are headed toward uncompressed video at 4k resolutions. Pretty soon frame grabs will be how still shoots are obtained.

#92 Comment By pac On June 8, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

1.You pay a make up artist and I use a skin softner in lightroom or photoshop.

2.Your a pro but customers like my pictures better.

3.You use to use film so that just means your older than me.

4. You are a pro but I shoot and sell more photos than you.

5. What makes a photographer a "pro" ?
A. Knowing how to use light?
B. Charging for your pictures?
C. Knowing composition ?
D. Owning a high price camera ?
E. Nothing ?

#93 Comment By Sequinminer On June 11, 2013 @ 7:21 am

Chuckling here... To the last poster. Because I know how to communicate Value to my Clients and you don't??