Upload & Sell: Off
I see a bit where you are coming from on this one. However, I think that is a poor mentality. Do you see anyone with a camera a direct competitor? I'm sure you have years of experience and that puts you on a whole different level. Like I said before, we all start somewhere. I mean where did you start? I don't plan on doing this for a living but if my work did get good enough then sure I would charge accordingly. Also, is this how pros feel now that cameras are better and cheaper than ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=768h3Tz4Qik .
Yes I do pretty much see anyone with a camera as a competitor, potential or otherwise, because in this industry, all it takes to call yourself a "pro" photographer is simply that, calling yourself a pro photographer. Doesn't mean your a good one, but I'm sure we all know of someone in our respective towns who does pretty poor work technically but that has and continues to get work doing weddings, or senior portraits or what ever. Quality of your work and what you charge is a fixed relationship in this industry. Great photogs sometimes undervalue themselves, total hacks with a good head for business can make out like bandits. Perhaps it would be nice if people were paid for their skill but just as in any industry its not how it always works.
Calling yourself a "pro" does not make you one yet and technically you still are. Its not like anyone with a dremel drill can go and call themselves a dentist. There are educational requirements, licensing boards and such. Not so with photography. There is no governing board, license test, educational requirement or anything.
As such, anyone could become a competitor. Frankly competitors really are everyone too. When one of the school SID's for a given sport I cover takes some photos with their own camera and uses them for their press release that is competition. They aren't as good, but if they are happy with them for their needs and they aren't requesting event coverage through the creative services dept, I might not get as much work and the budgeting folks might end up decreasing my purchase order amount for the following year.
Fact is that there are far more photographers than there are assignments. Reality of the world today is that there are not tons of newspapers, athletic depts etc that are just dying to find some new hires and have had open positions they just can't fill. The exact opposite is true. I couldn't even begin to imagine how many applicants there must be when you take into account all the students still graduating photography programs in journalism schools every year vs the number of publications that still even have a dedicated photo staff.
Even people that aren't trying to shoot for money can be viewed as competition, even YOUR competition. Highly unlikely that you are the only hobbyist who has approached your respective school about if you can shoot for them. My school gets over 1000 credential request for a football game! Plenty of those are people just wanting to be on the sidelines and shoot. Can't blame them but obviously there isn't space for everyone.
So in effect your competing with someone else that wants to do exactly what your doing, or perhaps a parent who's kid is in their senior year, who's been shooting from the stands for the past 3 seasons and really would like to get better access the final year. He also offers to submit any photos just as he has been doing doing and sometimes when the team scored a big road win and no one else was there to shoot it, his stuff is even used. Can't go and let everybody on the field so they are torn between that guy or you.
Competition is everywhere. That isn't to say its a bad thing, some of my best friends shoot for rival publications, or we both bid on the same jobs. Sometimes they refer work to me, sometimes I refer stuff to them.
We don't need to be scared of competition, but we also need to not be naive in thinking the actions of others can't have a direct effect on us.
I have people come up to me at games and ask me who they should talk to about shooting for the university. That is someone pretty much flat out saying they would like to take my job.
I also have people who simply send in some photos they take thinking they are helping the team they support. They got a great shot of a given kid, they think the kid would like to have it or whatever so they submit it for free. Again, that can affect my job without being a direct or initial attempt to do so on the attempt of the other photographer.
When your a hobbyist other photographers are just people to talk about gear with and such, share a common bond.
When your in business other photographers are competition. Doesn't mean you can't also be friends with them, talk gear etc, but you can't forget they are your competition. Its a fundamental key to running a business, know what the rest of the market is doing.