What is the definition of a professional photographer
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Gary Harfield
Registered: Mar 22, 2005
Total Posts: 1880
Country: United States

The article is written by a professional fire photographer.
I did comment on the article but I'm hoping this guy can get some more feedback from other visitors.

http://firephotomagazine.com/2012/08/what-makes-a-fire-photographer-a-professional/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FirePhotographerMagazine+%28Fire+Photographer+Magazine%29

He seems to think that you could be a professional photographer even if you are not making any money. Another words because you act professional you are professional.

My background is news photography and seven years in the fire service as well as wedding photography.



goosemang
Registered: Oct 21, 2011
Total Posts: 1677
Country: United States

is a fine art photographer a professional photographer if nobody buys their prints and they generate zero revenue?



Bernie
Registered: Aug 24, 2002
Total Posts: 4145
Country: United States

The dictionary definition doesn't even discuss running a business or living off the proceeds. It's a question of approach to the field and intent.



time2clmb
Registered: Jun 21, 2010
Total Posts: 351
Country: Canada

I'm sure there are alot of people who will totally make up their own definition of what it means and add whatever suits them to this list....

Definition of PROFESSIONAL
1a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer> b : having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier> c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return <professional football>
3: following a line of conduct as though it were a profession <a professional patriot>

Feel free to take any part of this, over analyze it and twist, contort and spin it to your own desires



Sami Ruusunen
Registered: Jul 30, 2010
Total Posts: 704
Country: Finland

I see it that professional is a person making a living with certain profession. Even if amateurs photos are professional quality, does not make him professional does it?

On the other hand who cares since anyone can call himself a professional photographer if he wants to. I find most people using prefix 'professional' in their title are mostly trying to convince themselves that they don't suck at what they do.

I don't call myself professional photographer even I get paid from photography and I approach it as professionally as I can. Sometimes I think it's too much to call myself even 'a photographer', I'm just a guy taking photos.



Monito
Registered: Jan 28, 2005
Total Posts: 10097
Country: Canada

Gary Harfield wrote: He seems to think that you could be a professional photographer even if you are not making any money. Another words because you act professional you are professional.

+1

It's not about income only or necessarily primarily. The guy at the Walmart "studio" who plops the baby down on the spot marked X is not allowed to move any lights or make any camera adjustments. She or he earns all their income from photography, but they are hardly "professional".



artd
Registered: Mar 01, 2011
Total Posts: 1195
Country: N/A

I would agree that it is not primarily about income. But I think there has to be some aspect of commerce involved. The premise of being a "professional" anything is that people are willing to pay you for what you do. Now, in some fields like photography, there is a lot of gray area, where you have a lot of very good photographers who consider themselves amateur or hobbyists, and some who run regular photography businesses and may (or may not in some circumstances!) be better than amateurs or hobbyists.

Now, that said, if you are a brilliant photographer but you never make any effort to sell your photos or your services, I don't see how that could be considered a professional. If you do try and sell your photos and your services, but absolutely no one is willing to pay you either because you're photos are not good or there's no market for what you're shooting, I don't think you could be considered being a professional either.

Now of course, there could be a semantical issue here about the difference between "being a professional" and "acting professional." I can say I do know professionals who don't act professionaly. Perhaps what this article is talking about is akin to "integrity."



parsons
Registered: Mar 29, 2004
Total Posts: 5354
Country: United Kingdom

as far as iam aware here in the UK, the definition is anyone who earns 10k+

s



Chris Fawkes
Registered: Feb 02, 2006
Total Posts: 3864
Country: Australia

time2clmb wrote:
I'm sure there are alot of people who will totally make up their own definition of what it means and add whatever suits them to this list....

Definition of PROFESSIONAL
1a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer> b : having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier> c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return <professional football>
3: following a line of conduct as though it were a profession <a professional patriot>

Feel free to take any part of this, over analyze it and twist, contort and spin it to your own desires


Reread this guys.



justruss
Registered: Jul 05, 2004
Total Posts: 4533
Country: United States

Chris Fawkes wrote:
time2clmb wrote:
I'm sure there are alot of people who will totally make up their own definition of what it means and add whatever suits them to this list....

Definition of PROFESSIONAL
1a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer> b : having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier> c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return <professional football>
3: following a line of conduct as though it were a profession <a professional patriot>

Feel free to take any part of this, over analyze it and twist, contort and spin it to your own desires


Reread this guys.



+1

With this caveat: When we move away from the squishy, soft, feely "If I call myself a professional photographer, and act like one-- than I am! And you can be too!" nonsense.... we do in fact bump up against REAL (as in pragmatic) definitions.

Go out and look into insurance for photography gear. There are definite (though not consistent) definitions for who qualifies for what. Get the the wrong thing-- and watch your claim get rejected. Try to join certain organizations that want some basic standard of the "profession" part from professional-- and see whether you get let in without meeting those requirements (income/source).

I'd argue that there is ONE requirement that differentiates between Professional X and Amateur X in the following:

Professional Cyclist / Amateur Cyclist
Professional Photographer / Amateur Photographer
Professional Plumber / Amateur Plumber
Professional Dancer / Amateur Dancer
Professional X / Amateur X

... and that is about the making of money/income from said activity. Lines can be blurry, sure.



marti.g3
Registered: Oct 04, 2011
Total Posts: 2034
Country: United States

In this digital era, anyone who says they are.



Dennis M 1064
Registered: Jun 29, 2012
Total Posts: 421
Country: United States

To be a golf Professional, you just have to sign up, or qualify to play in a professional/amateur event, and declare yourself a "Pro". This allows you to accept monetary winnings, assuming you place high enough to have earned them. As an amateur, you could not have money as an award.

That being said, once you have done so, reverting back to an amateur status, in the eyes of the USGA, not so easy. It is a long drawn out process, which involves petitioning the USGA, and that also means, "no more money".

So, I'm guessing here, that compensation for services or, positioning oneself in the pursuit of compensation for hire or for services rendered, has something to do with being a Professional.

I always told my golf students that they should show up to the golf course well before their round, and be dressed like a "Professional". It affects their attitude, and their appearance adds an expectation of performance. This does not actually make them professionals though. It did however, put pressure on them to play to meet expectations. It was certainly helpful in shaving strokes off their game. Some would only show up at a lesson or practice dressed that way from then on. I don't think "being" a Professional at anything, is all in your head. There is money involved, and I think the IRS has something to say about that as well.

On the lighter side, I remember a cartoon with a truck driver in a court room being hounded by an attorney to the likes of, "So as a Professional truck driver, isn't it your responsibility to know?!" The driver's response was, "How come the only time us truck drivers are referred to as 'professionals', is when we're on the witness stand?!"



trenchmonkey
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 35633
Country: United States

When you tell someone what you charge an hour...
and they say "holy crap!!" you might just be a professional.



swoop
Registered: Feb 11, 2005
Total Posts: 1491
Country: United States

If what you do is something you were formally educated in, traditionally trained in, amassed years of experience in and currently employed as, then you're a professional in that particular field.

I don't believe it should be solely dictated by how much money you make. But if you work at best buy 240 days a year and photograph 6 weddings. You're just moonlighting.



Dennis M 1064
Registered: Jun 29, 2012
Total Posts: 421
Country: United States

swoop wrote:
If what you do is something you were formally educated in, traditionally trained in, amassed years of experience in and currently employed as, then you're a professional in that particular field.

I don't believe it should be solely dictated by how much money you make. But if you work at best buy 240 days a year and photograph 6 weddings. You're just moonlighting.



If you were formally educated, traditionally trained in, and promote yourself as a wedding photographer, and have already been paid for shooting 6 weddings, why would you not be a Pro, or at least a Part-time professional photographer? I have a feeling, lots of Pros at many things are working full time jobs outside of their chosen profession, to keep the lights on.

I agree with the first part, formally educated in, traditionally trained. Years of experience? Not really. Is a Doctor not a Professional? Even the one that graduated at the bottom of the class is a professional when he takes his first job, full time or part time.

Students that graduate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University are licensed Commercial Pilots when they graduate, and are Professional Pilots when they are employed. Even as a part-time flight instructor, that works at Best Buy to make up for the incredibly low pay, of a Professional Flight Instructor. Yup, you can go from student, straight to teacher in aviation. I hold a Commercial license, with Multi-engine and Instrument ratings. I never became employed. I'm a licensed commercial pilot, not a Professional pilot. I am a Golf Pro though, and was formally trained in commercial photography, but am not a professional photographer.

Sometimes I think that people believe that being designated a Professional, is more a 'right of passage', by somebody that 'paid their dues' than actually getting an education, then gaining employment, in that field. Maybe the confusion is more about, what is a professional field, what is a trade, what is just a job, and what is the difference. There is a difference between being a professional, and a job being considered a 'profession'.



RDKirk
Registered: Apr 11, 2004
Total Posts: 8976
Country: United States

Sometimes I think that people believe that being designated a Professional, is more a 'right of passage', by somebody that 'paid their dues' than actually getting an education, then gaining employment, in that field. Maybe the confusion is more about, what is a professional field, what is a trade, what is just a job, and what is the difference. There is a difference between being a professional, and a job being considered a 'profession'.

The difference lies in who cares, when, and whether their caring makes a difference.

To the point made by justruss, the definition of your insurance company may be different from the definition of your manufacturer's professional services department, and that may differ from the definition of your tax department and then from the definition of a trade organization.

But within each of their own contexts, their own definition is the only one that matters.



Craig Gillette
Registered: Feb 15, 2005
Total Posts: 3415
Country: United States

This is kind of interesting from Illinois:

"(5) use of photographs, videotapes, and images by a person, firm, or corporation practicing the profession of photography ("professional photographer") to exhibit in or about the professional photographer's place of business or portfolio, specimens of the professional photographer's work, unless the exhibition is continued by the professional photographer after written notice objecting to the exhibition has been given by the individual portrayed."

When it comes down "making money," could one who tries to make money, or makes less than needed to make a profit, be a professional? As in, you got the permit and the license, the customers, etc., you just didn't do very well.



rhyder
Registered: Jul 10, 2004
Total Posts: 3785
Country: United States

Bottom line.........if you have to ask, then you probably aren't......Anyone can call themselves a pro......I know photographers that make money, even make their entire living from photography, that I would NOT call professional.



Dennis M 1064
Registered: Jun 29, 2012
Total Posts: 421
Country: United States

rhyder wrote:
Bottom line.........if you have to ask, then you probably aren't......Anyone can call themselves a pro......I know photographers that make money, even make their entire living from photography, that I would NOT call professional.




Ah, there it is, that "you" would not. What would that actually matter? That implies only that his work doesn't meet your standards, or your eye. Doesn't change the fact that, the photographer is making his entire living as a photographer, he's pretty much a pro.



RDKirk
Registered: Apr 11, 2004
Total Posts: 8976
Country: United States

Craig Gillette wrote:
This is kind of interesting from Illinois:

"(5) use of photographs, videotapes, and images by a person, firm, or corporation practicing the profession of photography ("professional photographer") to exhibit in or about the professional photographer's place of business or portfolio, specimens of the professional photographer's work, unless the exhibition is continued by the professional photographer after written notice objecting to the exhibition has been given by the individual portrayed."

When it comes down "making money," could one who tries to make money, or makes less than needed to make a profit, be a professional? As in, you got the permit and the license, the customers, etc., you just didn't do very well.


That particular section is in the context of a specific exception for professional photographers to the Illinois statute on personal privacy rights. Generally, no one's image can be used for commercial purposes (soliciting for a product or service) without writte permission except in the specific case of a professional photographer soliciting for his own business on his own property or person--and then only unless/until the model objects in writing.

This is about commercial solicitations for a business. The overt concept here is that the photographer is making a commercial solicitation for his own business. The implicit concept is that a "professional photographer" is a photographer who has a business that he's making this commercial solicitation for.

It's also already been established in the law that "commercial solicitiation" and "business" do not denote that a profit is being earned. Under Illinois law, there is such a thing as a not-for-profit business, and "commercial solicitation" has been found by the law to apply to not-for-profit businesses as well as profit businesses.

So the answer to your question IMO is that whether a profit has actually been earned is not relevant.



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