Sunday, October 30, 2005

The difference between professional and amateur

Traditionally the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer is defined as one earns a living from their photography while the other does not. I think this definition is fine in as far as it goes but to me the word professional means more than just working in a trade.

The other connotations of the word professional include, learned, expert and skilled. I suppose what I'm really seeking to differentiate between is someone who works as a photographer and someone that has a wholly professional attitude to their photography.

A truly professional photographer cares about every detail and strives for perfection in everything they do, from dealing with customers, to models, to the quality of their work, to presentation, to doing business with suppliers and leading their team. Every aspect is handled professionally, with skill, expertise and the utmost care. Because the final image is the product of a long chain of decisions and actions. For example, the photographer who doesn't get a shoot organised on schedule and ends up being late and rushing will probably produce poorer quality images than the professional who takes care to ensure every detail is looked after.

There are amateurs who put more effort in, are more rigorous in their photography, more passionate and driven than many photographers who make a living out of their photography. But generally amateurs are quickly satisfied with their results. There's no economic incentive to perform to the highest level and that's fine.

But I do think that photographers who earn their living as professionals should always have a professional attitude and that they should carry it through into every aspect of their work. Being a professional photographer is a way of life, not just a way of earning a living.

As always your comments are welcome.

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