by: Asif Raza
I have been involved in mentoring, guiding and teaching photography for a little upwards of 25 years and in all this time; I have managed to make a decent name and living out of photography, my first love.
SO what makes someone a professional photographer? Way too many responses to this loaded question and I need to be careful. So let me ask it in another way…. Are you a professional or hobbyist? Now the question is, who is a professional and who the hobbyist? I would like to believe that those who actually depend on making a living of off photography would be professionals, while everybody else would be a hobbyist. Even though some of the hobbyist’s may be getting paid for some of their work, I would still term these individuals as hobbyists, perhaps serious hobbyists, nevertheless hobbyists.
To me personally, it is all about making that commitment, it is a business that you run successfully. Acquiring expensive photo gear does not automatically make one committed. It is about the fundamental understanding of the craft and the art. It is about knowing and understanding the behavior of light, the quality of light, having a sense of composition, knowing how best to express and convey what you see, and how you translate it into a photograph. Knowing when to minimize depth of field and knowing when to slow down the shutter speed or vice-versa. Having the ability to understand the tones and contrast. Understand the needs of a client, be able to adapt to the changing needs and still be able to deliver quality. These would only a few of the traits that differentiate between an amateur/hobbyist and a professional.
In today’s world, practically everybody has a camera, be it a hefty pro camera or a simple phone camera, photography has become an integral part of our lives. Social media has further allowed each one of us to express and create images that we could never have created and more importantly, shared in the manner that we share these days. The quality of aesthetics and technique that one comes across on a daily basis is mind boggling and on occasion intimidating. So, are all these producers of these awesome images, professionals? Perhaps not. Most of the people creating these images are just casual photographers, and when you really start looking at the sheer numbers that people post on a daily basis, you are bound to get a substantial number of images that will stand out. A lot of these people will also make some money from the sale of their images.
So who is and is not a professional, I really do not know, but would love to hear from all of you out there. To me, it is all about the love of something that I do and since I love it to the point where it ceases to be work, as much as I may be getting paid for it and running a successful business. I would say that I am fortunate enough to be doing what I love and whether I am considered a professional or not, really does not matter to me.
What do you think? Let’s hear your thoughts