The Slow Climb to the Top

The Slow Climb to the TopTo view more of my photography please click on

There is a large discussion on what constitutes a professional photographer. The strictest definition is one who makes a living from photography; a looser one would be someone who makes money from photography. It was suggested by a photographer who makes his living from the trade that a pro: a) knows their gear, has skill, talent, and their own style; and b) can be expected to produce high quality results whatever they are shooting. Hence the name of this post; learning your craft is one thing, being able to produce a unique product on demand is something else. I was talking to a friend who noted that digital had to mean that photography costs a great deal less than before. I explained what my camera cost and told him what the life expectancy of that body was and asked him how he expected a photographer to survive on his low-ball quotes. As another example, I had to shoot some photographs to illustrate a magazine article. The worst part about it was the time frame. I hate to have the subject chosen for me and being under pressure to produce it. To make a long story short, I think I am much better off as an amateur and I have respect and a lot appreciation for those who climb to the top in professional photography.

11 responses

  1. Depends how you view things. I am a highly skilled and talented artist. I sold my art in galleries for many years. Then I chose to leave the business. Does that now make me an amature? I say I am still a professional. Money has nothing to do with it. As a photographer I haven’t sold much. I would consider myself a professional now because of the quality of the work I do and how well I know my equipment and software.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 14, 2015 at 1:13 am

  2. Jeb

    When faced with a discussion on what constitutes the body of any aspect of an art form, I always remember the line ‘leave it to our police and administrators to see that our papers are in order’ as some Confucius or other, once said.


    July 14, 2015 at 5:28 am

    • Yes. But unfortunately, this discussion comes up a lot. And with the ubiquity of photography the definition dictates some perspective on a person’s work. Rightly or wrongly.


      July 14, 2015 at 5:34 am

      • Jeb

        In the only professional art form I have experience of, trained and non-trained worked alongside each other, skill set was very variable, so the master craft-person definition would not have worked.

        Definition of being ‘successful’ is working for two weeks a year (minimum), but the paid aspect definitely constituted pro status. But says nothing about craft ability. Its the business end of things.


        July 14, 2015 at 5:52 am

        • Getting paid for something does not make you good at it, the corollary of which is that there is a better chance of getting paid to do something if you are good at it. Unfortunately good marketing and business skills can go some way to advance mediocrity.

          Liked by 1 person

          July 14, 2015 at 6:35 am

  3. You make some very valuable observations here.


    July 14, 2015 at 6:41 am

  4. I agree with what you wrote. I have never made any money from photography, but that’s not why I do it. I don’t consider myself a professional, but that’s not material to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 14, 2015 at 7:06 am

  5. I think one’s work should speak for itself. If you put in the hours, study your art, you’ll soon become a pro. Our culture puts too much value on dollars earned. As you said, getting paid doesn’t mean you’re good. A fool and his money are soon parted after all! 😉
    You’re a pro in my book, Victor!


    July 14, 2015 at 9:30 pm

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