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Thread: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

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    Workshop Member ChrisDauer's Avatar
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    Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    Okay,

    I'm wondering what it takes to be a Pro vs. a Pro Am vs. an Am?

    This comes from someone sending me a link to a conference and the corresponding link following/web surfing that follows, having nothing to do with the original link. I stumbled upon a "Professional with more than 1/2 a decade in photography." The accolades seemed... questionable. The website seemed very amateurish and the 'bio' had my B.S. meter was pretty solidly pegged. So it just made me wonder,

    How would you define or classify a Professional Photographer versus a Pro-Amateur versus an Amateur?

    What's it take to be one versus the other?

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    Senior Member JimCollum's Avatar
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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    well.. a Pro is simply someone who makes money at photography... which is not an indication of if they're good or not. If I see someone qualifying themselves as Professional, I figure it's on the same level of me saying, I'm a Software engineer in the same thread. The fact that I'm (or you're) a Software Engineer has as much bearing on the quality of my photographic work, as does someone saying they're a Professional Photographer. (in fact, someone saying that, probably says more about their Marketing or Sales ability than anything to do with actual images).

    just my 2 cents

    jim

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    There's probably a few different "filters" through which you might view a definition of "professional." Nikon for instance, runs a special club or organization that's aimed strictly at professionals (Note: I am not a member and so my description is based on generalization). The members are entitled to various perks like rentals, speedy service, loaners, etc. In order to qualify you must show that you earn your livelihood exclusively (or primarily) as a photographer.

    So being a professional can mean that you support yourself and derive your main source of income as a photographer. Of course that in itself is not a guarantee of anything. You could be a really sucky photographer and barely earn enough to keep yourself alive, but going strictly by the former definition, you are a "pro".

    The other categories are maybe even less well defined and open to interpretation. Just because I own a "professional" level camera and make images that are of a technically professional caliber, doesn't make me a pro. Just as owning professional level software like Adobe InDesign and Illustrator doesn't make someone a professional Graphic Designer.

    The understanding and experience that come from being "in the business" and working with art directors/agencies/brides/clients to provide a photograph(s) to expressly meet an objective, is one set of skills that help define a group of photographers that can be called professional.

    It's a tricky thing in some ways. I'll bet Guy would have a few things to say about it. And maybe it's more like the joke about trying to define pornography; "I don't know how to describe it, but I know it when I see it".
    Last edited by TRSmith; 5th February 2008 at 08:49. Reason: posted while Jim was posting his reply, sorry for overlap

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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    Let's list a few wildly varying ideas about what is a "professional," shall we?

    Professional=whore
    Professional=good
    Professional=expensive
    Professional=makes their living exclusively with the endeavor being discussed
    Professional=only physicians, academics and lawyers are "professionals" now shut up you stupid plebe
    Professional=someone who used to think mostly about art/music/photography/sport but now mainly thinks about how to keep making money

    Anyways, "professional" has kind of turned into chimera; it seems to indicate whatever the writer wants it to indicate. Or it's used as a false shibboleth to gain purchase where there is none, or, more often, as a status indicator.

    An Amateur is someone who does something simply for the love of it. I've been an Amateur photographer all my life, even when I got paid to do it. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie O View Post
    Let's list a few wildly varying ideas about what is a "professional," shall we?

    Professional=whore
    Professional=good
    Professional=expensive
    Professional=makes their living exclusively with the endeavor being discussed
    Professional=only physicians, academics and lawyers are "professionals" now shut up you stupid plebe
    Professional=someone who used to think mostly about art/music/photography/sport but now mainly thinks about how to keep making money

    Anyways, "professional" has kind of turned into chimera; it seems to indicate whatever the writer wants it to indicate. Or it's used as a false shibboleth to gain purchase where there is none, or, more often, as a status indicator.

    An Amateur is someone who does something simply for the love of it. I've been an Amateur photographer all my life, even when I got paid to do it. I wouldn't have it any other way.
    Beautifully said Maggie

    The issue is not so much making money but making images that people become so infatuated with that they are willing to part with their money to own and display it. I hope I belong to the latter club. A number of people buy my 22x30" images because they love the quality (emotional first and IQ second) of the experience. That is what i try to create and i am absolutely thrilled that someone else wants to be part of my experience. Anyway, too much analysis. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and thanks from me to those who think my images are worth owning.

    Woody Spedden

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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    i'm new here...but seems that folks like to think 'pro' equates to a level of expertise that is above amateur, or least some people do. in photography, selling an image for money is very easy and as noted doesn't require much skill to create marketable images--show up to a kids baseball game, snap a shot and some parent will purchase it.

    i have a 'regular' job so photo stuff is just for fun, but i logged around 100 'assignments' last year for various agencies (getty, wireimage, various clients, etc) that i got paid for. yet, compared to some in the field--probably many here btw--i am still a hack...so i wouldn't call myself a pro, but a shooter who gets lucky once in awhile. now if you can put together a cover shot for a wide array of clients/magazines and pull it off 100% of the time on short notice, you might be a real 'pro'.

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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    Quote Originally Posted by fultonpics View Post
    i have a 'regular' job so photo stuff is just for fun, but i logged around 100 'assignments' last year for various agencies (getty, wireimage, various clients, etc) that i got paid for.
    How did you get those gigs? I'd love to start picking up some freelance and agency work now and then.

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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    maggie o

    i started years ago when the switch to internet image providers was starting--the wireimages, uspresswire, wpn, etc were looking for people to 'contribute'. some of these were absorbed into larger agencies and have client assignments that required coverage. quickly realizing stock photography was nothing more than a waste (well with about 10K inventory on getty checks come monthly but it is not predictable), i mostly took paid-for assignments (but attempted to hold rights if possible). after awhile, there is more but it unfort. conflicts with the day job. this has caused me to turn down work, but i am not ready to do photo full-time--editorial is a tough business on several levels.

    anyway, if you have contacts (i.e. friends,editors) at the leading agencies/mags, see if you can get a portfolio review. make sure yours stands out and is not just another standard portfolio that they see 100's of a week. develop an edge in your shooting and you will have a chance. remember your weakest shot in your portfolio defines you. of course, you need to have the basics down--studio versus location lighting, transmission, post process, etc so you have the ability to shoot any type of assignment you cover. be prepared for tons of rejection and just ignore it. also NEVER give your work away to publishers--a tear sheet has almost never gotten a person an assignment. I know, I have boxes of them.
    Last edited by fultonpics; 14th February 2008 at 15:59.

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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    Interesting thread.

    I have a perspective from both sides. As a career ad man I've hired thousands of "professional" photographers and cinematographers and spent multi-millions of $ on images. The level of use and the clients' needs dictate who shoots and how much will be paid. I've selected famous photographers to do certain work, and local "Steady Eddies" to shoot some corporate machine shop stuff for catalogs. In the course of time I also learned a thing to two and began shooting some professional work myself.

    In this manner I see "professional" as "art in the service of commerce." It is expression with a defined purpose that someone is willing to pay you for. So, one day I can shoot some amateur stuff with my H3D/39-II, and the next shoot something "professional" for a client using the same equipment. Even wedding photography is expression or style with a defined purpose that someone is willing to pay me for ... so it is "professional" work.

    There are a number of money making outlets for photography from shooting real estate stuff and dance studio recitals to national ads for well known brands which run into the 100s of thousands of dollars for a single session.

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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    The first born son use to inherit everything (primogeniture) - the other sons were sent to the following 'professions' in descending order of merit - The Military Services as as a commissioned officer ( in the colonies this often meant partial or full rights to certain business activities, ) , the Clergy ( with parish and income ) , or in th case of weaker offspring - an education leading to perhaps medicine, but more likely the law...

    In an upper class family - it was considered to be somewhat demeaning for a family to find itself in circumstances requiring a son to actually 'work' for money.

    I think Maggie pretty much covered everything else.

  11. #11
    poboxnyc
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    Re: Pro vs. Pro Am vs. Am

    "Anyways, "professional" has kind of turned into chimera; it seems to indicate whatever the writer wants it to indicate. Or it's used as a false shibboleth to gain purchase where there is none, or, more often, as a status indicator.

    An Amateur is someone who does something simply for the love of it. I've been an Amateur photographer all my life, even when I got paid to do it. I wouldn't have it any other way.[/QUOTE]"


    I've never met a successful professional in any field who was not an "amatuer" at heart. Without the love of the craft, it's impossible to succeed in anything. It's all too much work if you don't love it.

    A prominent professional photographer told me years ago when I started that what defined a professional photographer was simply this: you didn't have the luxury of just taking a picture -- you had to MAKE a picture under time pressure, whether you felt like it or not, whether it was there or not ---every time you took an assignment.

    You really don't have the luxury of just batting 350 and getting in the hall of fame. You pretty much have to bat 1000 to survive. If you don't love it -- it really is too much pressure--- if you do it for a living, that is.

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