Reading the endless debate about the definition of professional and hobbyist photographer, I want to write my own opinion on the issue.
Many say that the only difference between professionals and hobbyists is that the former receives money for the job he does and the latter doesn’t. I partly disagree. Professionalism also involves the quality of work. Before you even ask for money for your work, you have to know the rules and should have developed the art in photography.
I’m not saying that hobbyists are no better than professionals. There are some who takes photos that can blow your mind. Some hobbyists have innate art of seeing that the rest has yet to develop.
The problem is the term hobbyist is always associated with amateurs, although many of them are. Hobby is what you do when you are not doing anything else. So professionals can also be hobbyists if that’s what they do when they are not shooting for money. When professionals are not shooting for the profit, they are doing it for the love of it, just like the rest of the hobbyists.
But professionals should have already developed the craft by learning the trade first hand constantly improving their art. That means they have started as amateur photographers learning from pros. That includes spending much just to get better correcting a lot of mistakes before they even decide that they can already be branded as pros themselves. Bringing out good pictures is not what professional is all about. For instance, in wedding photography, you should know where to shoot the best angle and you should already know what follows in the program so that you should know where to position yourself. Even in photojournalism, you can differentiate the amateurs from the pros by just looking at where they are positioned.
But there are amateurs charging people for their work. Some of them think that having a better camera will make them better photographers. Quoting Barry Hayes, a photographer in Vermont, “while technology may produce a camera that can make a technically perfect exposure, it cannot yet produce an artistically satisfying image or revealing portrait without the eye and mind of a skilled professional.” These posers are not professionals at all. Like any other endeavors, there are the knock offs. The following video is a classic example of amateurs posing as professionals.
I believe my short article has helped clear the issues between the differences of professionals, hobbyists and amateurs. But I’d like to end it by confusing you further with this quote from Alfred Stieglitz in 1899. It’s up to you to end the story. (‘ ‘,)
"Let me here call attention to one of the most universally popular mistakes that have to do with photography - that of classing supposedly excellent work as professional, and using the term amateur to convey the idea of immature productions and to excuse atrociously poor photographs. As a matter of fact nearly all the greatest work is being, and has always been done, by those who are following photography for the love of it, and not merely for financial reasons. As the name implies, an amateur is one who works for love; and viewed in this light the incorrectness of the popular classification is readily apparent."