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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Professional, Amateur and Hobbyist Photographers... what's the differnce?!

Photography is my passion and my joy. I have to admit it wasn't always the case.  You see, I began my photographic journey at 15 years of age when I responded to a job that seemed 'cool'.  The local newspaper was looking for a photojournalist to cover the local High School sports.  I don't know that anyone else applied but I got the job....  

After a quick orientation they handed me an assignment and a Nikon EM (film SLR) this would later become my most beloved possession but that also wasn't always the case. 

Once I returned from my first assignment- covering a track and field meet, I was given a lesson on developing and cutting my own film. I took notes as fast as my fingers could follow.  With the help of one of the writers I developed my first 6 image roll (they only allowed a few frames so no going click happy then!). Sadly, what should have been clear crisp classic black and white footage was actually white paper and black paper.  I had either underexposed or overexposed the film. Needless to say I thoroughly disappointed the staff with this assignment. The same writer explained that my Nikon was not a point and shoot and that I needed to figure out how to use this magnificent tool.  He handed me the users manual.  That thick bible size book was now my new assignment.  I was told to cut 12 frames and to go out and play over the weekend.

With the help of my boyfriend at the time (my now husband and love of my life) I deciphered the Nikon manual and very carefully chose my 12 shots over the two days I had been given.  When I returned to the darkroom on Monday I was pleased with the fact the beaver I photographed was in focus!  I was told I still had to practise with my exposure much more but that it would come in time.  I have not stopped practising since and this passion has become a love.  I loved every minute of working for the paper! I continue to photograph for the joy of it whenever I can. The dark room is now found in my computers and I still enjoy the complete process.

Things have changed somewhat however. There comes a time when photography is also a business. As with any business, photography has large overhead costs in terms of equipment, continuing education, and quality products. Also, as a business, photography must pay the bills to support a family. It seems every week I stumble upon a new 'photographer' whose depth of knowledge is a smart digital camera. These photographers set up shop on the web and build a Facebook business profile. They draw clients in based on the fact they either are cheap or they offer all the digital files on a CD for less than what you could feed any family. Because, well.... they can!  They don't pay taxes, do not have a business license- everything is 'under the table' in a sense.   

I understand we all start somewhere. There are in fact many levels of photographers out there with many of them extremely inexpensive. With so many options in terms of photographers and pricing and with so many of those liberally attaching 'Professional' before their tittle, I want to share with you some of the differences between the hobbyist, the amateur with a web page, and the professional. My hope is that you will see the difference in what you are investing and supporting as many are diluting this wonderful profession and hurting the industry I love so much in the process.


  1. Thank you for pointing out what the typical consumer does not understand about the so called professionals on the web. People need to understand that they do in fact break the law operating a business and yet never reporting their cash flow, doing so without a proper business license, and the bottom line, being shady people.

  2. I totally agree. This is a touchy subject w/ us because a couple of people close to me are the "amateur claiming to be professional" type you talk about. And they can't seem to understand why I want to have my photos done by an actual real professional photographer. I understand your passion and completely agree.

  3. I just saw on Facebook a friend posting about her experience with a 'professional' family friend who just set up shot on Facebook. She was telling us to like this woman's page. Her comment was that when she saw her pictures they looked pretty close to the professionals. OMG!


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