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Gear Talk => Canon General => Topic started by: shunsai on February 06, 2013, 11:48:14 PM

Title: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: shunsai on February 06, 2013, 11:48:14 PM
I'm curious. What does it mean to be a professional photographer?

I don't exactly consider myself a pro, but I'm not a fan of referring to photography as just my "hobby".
I've invested quite a bit of money (for me) in photography equipment- bodies, lenses, strobes and other studio equipment. But I know the gear I have doesn't make me a professional.

I'm not super technical in my photography, but I consider myself knowing more than just the basics. I spent 5 years working as an assistant at a photography studio. I learned a lot and got some great experience. I also spent those 5 years in the back room retouching and post-producing photos. I consider myself technically intermediate and enjoy learning and trying new techniques from others.

I don't make my living off of my photography, but occasionally I will do small paid jobs.

I consider myself an amateur- not in the sense that I'm new or inexperienced, but in the sense that for now, I do photography because I love it.

So what exactly does it mean to be professional in your opinion? We know it's not the gear alone. Is it the making money off of your skill? Paid jobs? Making a living? Is it simply having skill and experience? What do you all think?
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: bdunbar79 on February 06, 2013, 11:54:12 PM
Typically if you can get paid routinely for several small outfits, and they like your work and you continually get hired, I'd say your a pro.  For instance I never thought of myself as a pro, b/c it's not my primary source of income, but I do shoot for a university, a newspaper, and an athletic conference.  I get paid sufficiently well and they continue to hire me for many jobs.  Does this make me a pro?  I don't know, maybe.  I guess you'd better be good and know what you're doing.  I think to really be a pro you have to be confident in every shooting situation you enter and know what to do to get the shot done.  This particular profession is quite subjective as there are no benchmarks or exams, etc. to become a professional.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: pwp on February 07, 2013, 01:24:44 AM
I'm an unbelievably good cook & barista, (so my family & friends tell me) but enjoy my amateur status. I wouldn't get too hung up on definitions. You know your own skill level. A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. If that's what you do with your photography, then by definition you are a professional photographer.

From Wikipedia & the Oxford Dictionary:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional)
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/professional (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/professional)

Or the controversial Ken Rockwell's definition:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/what-is-a-pro.htm (http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/what-is-a-pro.htm)

And from that great website, Black Star Rising:
http://rising.blackstar.com/what-defines-a-professional-photographer.html (http://rising.blackstar.com/what-defines-a-professional-photographer.html)

And another thread with the same question:
http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/photographic-discussions/189616-what-your-definition-professional-photographer.html (http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/photographic-discussions/189616-what-your-definition-professional-photographer.html)

But really, how important are labels? In the end it's what you can do that really counts.

-PW

Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Dylan777 on February 07, 2013, 01:35:03 AM
I enjoy photography as a "hobby" too. I doubt I would be enjoy it if this my main job, unless base salary starts at $200K/year ;)

Friends of mines are Pro-wedding shooters, they spend 12-14hrs a day at studio to re-touch wedding pictures. Did I mention - there are no weekends for them :-[

Their family pictures are not even up to date :-\
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Cannon Man on February 07, 2013, 01:53:26 AM
I would define a pro photographer as someone who makes all their income from photography.
That said there are photographers who take crappy photos.

Therefore the "pro" means (to me at least)
1: that photography is his/hers income (at least main income)
2: when using the word pro it also describes that you are very skillfull in photography and competitive in your area where you live.

If i was a pro skater it would mean that i make my money sk8ting and that ofcourse means that i attend demanding competitions.. Other wise i would not be pro enough to make money of it.

Sure you can be pro and be bad at photography.. Everyone has their opinion of who is good or not but i would imagine that if you have customers coming in for 45 years your pictures should look somewhat "pro" to keep them happy.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: ChilledXpress on February 07, 2013, 02:00:41 AM
Pro = Buisness cards, Sweet Logo, website with rates, a Facebook page... BAM, Bob's Your Uncle !!! Insta-Pro.

You'll find there are no hardlines drawn to define a "pro". Seems like anyone that can afford a camera and takes photos for a few days is considering themselves "pro".

Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: vietdinh22 on February 07, 2013, 02:25:46 AM
I think we can use a certain kind of POV from the sports angle where if you accept a certain amount of money, you lose amateur status(like with High School Athelete Missy Franklin).

I'm not saying if you charge $300 for portraits you become a "pro", but I think it would mean that your photography is professional as a business, a brand, and in skill enough for you to seriously charge people the value of your time/effort.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Hillsilly on February 07, 2013, 03:32:54 AM
A pro is a person who can deliver the results that their client is paying for. Most importantly, a pro has the experience, knowledge and temperament to deal with adverse conditions and unforseen problems, can work with a diverse range of clients (and their expectations) and understands the logistical requirements for a succesful shoot.

Money doesn't automatically come into my definition.  But I suspect that you couldn't develop the expertise to be a pro unless you were doing it as your full time occupation.  It would take several years to reach the required level.

If...

Your clients are raising their eyebrows at things you say or do;
Your clients are offering suggestions (and their suggestions work and are better than your ideas);
You don't get a lot of repeat jobs or referrals;
You regularly get the impression people aren't happy with your work;
You turn up late;
You regularly lose files, forget to bill clients, don't have back up equipment, always rely on the sun as your source of lighting, think your 35-80 produces the pinnacle of image quality, turn up with a Nikon, don't preplan but expect to get it right on the day, forget important pieces of kit, miss the kiss, run out of memory cards...

...then you might not be at pro level yet.  But if you are getting most of the above right, you probably are a pro.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: The Bad Duck on February 07, 2013, 04:10:25 AM
Professional means making a living out of what ever you do. Amateur means doing it for fun, or for the love of it.

I consider myself a part time pro. I get 10-20 % of my income from paid shoots or photos sold. I could live with going up to 50% photography but the step from there to 100% is huge and would require me to do a lot of shoots that I would not want to do, just to make money. My ordinary job is great and more fun than doing shoots for clients that I dont´like. However the photography I enjoy is much more fun than work. It´s a balance for me.

Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: keithcooper on February 07, 2013, 04:25:00 AM
Definitions are never easy for this one, but for me...

I earn my living through photography
I run a photography related business (UK Ltd company and VAT registered)
I sometimes do photographic work which has no intrinsic interest to me - my job is to produce images the client wants whether I feel like it or not. It's about what the client wants (even when they don't know)

Foremost is that I run a business - it just happens to involve some work that I really enjoy ;-)

Oh, and it's a business that does well enough that I can choose -not- to do some types of work (weddings/portraits/pets)

I'm strongly of the opinion that it has nothing to do with letters after your name, or membership of any particular organisation (although I know some derive personal satisfaction from this)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: bycostello on February 07, 2013, 04:37:01 AM
can produce good quality repeatable results over and over...
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: LewisShermer on February 07, 2013, 07:34:40 AM
I had point and shoot film cameras from an early age. I worked from 18 as a studio assistant, learnt the ropes with regards to lighting and re-touching. I spent lots of time in the dark loading 5x4 film into slides, I spent lots of time with an enlarger making prints, I spent lots of time with lighting, exposure meters and polaroids making sure exposures were correct (and they were to within a quarter of a stop, I might add). In my spare time I shot bands (with a mamiya 645). When the studio mover over to digital, I basically taught the boss to use digital cameras and photoshop. his main photographer left the company, I became the number 1 in the studio. He retired when I was 22 so I went to uni and studied graphic design & photography, I have a 2:1. I left there, started to work in a watch design studio in the graphics department. I started a photography studio with 5 bowens lights, a canon 1Ds mk3 and a G4 mac... The first year I saved the company 80K on photography... now god only knows how much I do. most of the watch advertising in magazines, on the internet and in brochures that you'll see is done by me (only the good stuff). I wanted a home set up, I bought a camera and some lights. then I bout another camera. and another. and more lights. and more crap. and more lenses. After enjoying shooing models and promo shots for bands I thought I'd have a go at wedding photography 2 years ago. I've just done my 11th last weekend. I'm pretty pleased with it. I aim to create the best pictures I can using the bet lighting I can get out of a situation, the sun, a reflector, a window, a strobe, 3 strobes, big lights, big lights + strobes...

I'd never consider myself a pro.

I earn just enough money to live by running the studio here at work, not for myself but for someone else but I'd never charge for anything I shoot outside of work. most photographers i know go mental because I'll do a 14 hour wedding and all the post-production for free (only for friends & friends of friends) If someone contacted me to do a wedding and it wasn't a friend or through a friend I'd turn them down.

I make sure all my equipment is maintained appropriately and I always have a back up for bodies and lenses (which included me spending £800 on a 5Dii last week just for this wedding)

when I've shot 100 weddings and I'm happy with all 100 of them, then I might consider thinking I'm on my way to being half almost decent. but not a pro.

When you've worked with a real pro who knows what to do in any given situation as things are constantly changing then it really puts you in your place.

you may have a real sweet set up and make some money from your stock images but there has to be more about you to be considered a pro. It's hard to pin down. they are out there, somewhere, and it's something to aspire to, not just a label that you give yourself because you over charge for your crappy pictures or because you'll have a pop at me for not charging.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: sandymandy on February 07, 2013, 08:36:33 AM
Pro for me is somebody who is standing out of the photography crowd. Just earning money with photography doesnt mean they are pro photographers but rather..."pro workers"  imho. Like not every chef is a pro i think. They can all cook the same perhaps, but the star chef somehow makes it taste more awesome.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Lurker on February 07, 2013, 08:39:16 AM
Pro - You make a living at what you do.  Everyone is a pro at something.
Semi-pro - You make some money at it.  Could be Weddings/Events or image sales online or at art/craft shows.
Amateur - you do it for fun and/or show.

I don't think these terms have anything to do with skill other than you need to have more skill to make more money at something.  An amateur can certainly have the same skills as a pro they just make a living at something else.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: macrodust on February 07, 2013, 09:24:15 AM
Would you rather go to bed with a seasoned pro, or a passionate amateur?

My point is that people attach too many positive feelings towards the "professional" tag. To me, it only means that one makes a living doing a particular thing. There are other words to describe skill if that is what you want to.

-h

+1
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: RLPhoto on February 07, 2013, 09:38:51 AM
Anyone who gets paid for their photography services. I've seen horrible pros and excellent non-pros, so take the title with a handful of salt.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Zv on February 07, 2013, 09:45:35 AM
It's a difficult one to define since there are such varying standards. I consider people who not only earn 100% of their income through photography but also those who are contributing to the photographic community with innovative and imaginative new ways to express their art. Taking a bunch of pictures at a wedding does not make a pro photographer in my eyes. Offering a unique experience and capturing a wedding in a way that not only satisfies the expectations of the client but exceeds them and adds their own signature and style would be a better description. Other descritions would include sports photographers and fashion photographers.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: unfocused on February 07, 2013, 10:09:59 AM
I'm more interested in the term and theory of "craftsman" – which requires about 10,000 hours to achieve. That equates to three hours of practice a day for 10 years.

I like it because it has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with building and mastering skills.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: awinphoto on February 07, 2013, 10:20:46 AM
hmmmm your opening a new can of worms, aren't ya... The hardlined definition of Pro, especially in the photography sector, tends to be a person who works full time and makes their living from the use or sell of photography.  That's how canon defines a pro when considering candidates for their CPS (Canon Professional Services), although it's debatable how strict their process is, but anywho... Then again, there are a lot of professionals that burn out within the first year or two, a lot of pro's that overprice and go bankrupt, and a lot of pro's that aren't the best photographers, but are awesome sales people which keeps money flowing.  The line between Pro and amateur is so fuzzy, especially since anyone can buy a 5d or 7d or even a 1dx and call themselves a pro with no credentials or training.  And then in the pro sector, you have the long time existing pros (dinosaurs who are retiring soon and not up with technology or still shooting film), the actually good and successful pro's, the up and comers, and then those shoot and burners who likely will be out of a job in a matter of time...  So in that jumbled mess of an answer, i'd say your an advanced amateur... and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  If you want to be a pro, take the leap of faith and try it full time and sink or swim 
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on February 07, 2013, 10:53:51 AM
Pro - You make a living at what you do.  Everyone is a pro at something.
Semi-pro - You make some money at it.  Could be Weddings/Events or image sales online or at art/craft shows.
Amateur - you do it for fun and/or show.

I don't think these terms have anything to do with skill other than you need to have more skill to make more money at something.  An amateur can certainly have the same skills as a pro they just make a living at something else.

I think I agree with this definition.  I consider myself a semi-pro because I do photography professionally (I get paid to do a variety of photography related things, from portraits to weddings to business events), but it isn't my main pursuit or vocation.  I have been published in multiple magazines and newspapers.  Getty licenses some of my work.  My day job is as a pastor, and it will always be my primary focus.

I love the place I get to do photography from.  I can be both the passionate amateur, get paid when I want to take jobs, and but don't have to take them because I don't make a living from photography.  I essentially try to fund all of my equipment through photography, and if I make a little extra, it is gravy.  I'm far from rich, but I'm far from greedy, too.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Rat on February 07, 2013, 10:59:37 AM
You're a hobbyist if you do something you like. You're a pro if you do what someone else likes.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: V8Beast on February 07, 2013, 11:18:33 AM
Someone who has no money ;D
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: unfocused on February 07, 2013, 11:32:41 AM
Someone who has no money ;D

Best answer yet.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: paul13walnut5 on February 07, 2013, 11:33:55 AM
If photography is your living and you have things like liability and indemnity insurance and you pay tax then you are probably pro, regardless of ability or kit used.

I'm an amateur photographer but make my living doing video (partly) on DSLRs.

I see no shame in the badge amateur.  It means you do it for the love of it.  I see no harm in the label 'hobbyist' either.

By sheer fluke I've sold a couple of images directly and through the getty/flickr scam, but thats because I was asked to, I've NEVER taken a photo commission, and never intend to.  It's mine, all mine, and I love it.

By dint of my day job I have an idea how to work a camera, and how to control light, and on a good day downhill with the wind behind me, can even compose a shot.  But I would never call myself a pro photographer.

And neither should some of the folk who do.

My final word... careful what you wish for.  I was at the video game for a while before I went back to school, and have been in paid work ever since, but I don't enjoy video anywhere near as much as when I wasn't piping  to somebody elses tune.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Lurker on February 07, 2013, 11:52:51 AM
Quote
also those who are contributing to the photographic community with innovative and imaginative new ways to express their art. . . . Offering a unique experience

I understand what you're saying but I have a concern.

If a person does something innovative or imaginative people will study it and duplicate it.  If they contribute to the photographic community its even easier to duplicate their work.  Once others are doing what they do are they no longer a pro?  If a person wants to continue to be a pro do they have to regularly change their style or technique to keep it fresh? 

I don't think its fair or appropriate to define one person based on what someone else is or what someone else is doing.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: charlesa on February 07, 2013, 11:54:53 AM
Someone who has no money ;D

Seconded haha!
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: agierke on February 07, 2013, 12:11:51 PM
its as if we need Jeff Foxworthy to do a "You Might Be A Professional Photographer If...." bit.

you are a professional photographer if your main source of income is from photography. plain and simple.

now whether or not you ARE "professional" is a whole nother story....
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Marsu42 on February 07, 2013, 12:21:41 PM
So what exactly does it mean to be professional in your opinion? We know it's not the gear alone. Is it the making money off of your skill? Paid jobs? Making a living? Is it simply having skill and experience? What do you all think?

In addition to the things about income written above, imho it's a mostly a different perspective - either you do it for fun and invest accordingly ("that gear will be fun/interesting to use and I look forward to the results") or you think of it like a business ("what gear is required to do the job and will I get a return of invest").
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Chris Geiger on February 07, 2013, 12:22:13 PM
"You Might Be A Professional Photographer If your main source of light comes from somewhere other than the camera flash"

I consider myself a pro. Photography is my only source of income. I have insurance, pay taxes and recently achieved my Certified Professional Photographer certificate. I average 30+ weddings a year along with other shoots.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Don Haines on February 07, 2013, 12:46:40 PM
I don't think there is a hard definition...... just a sliding scale...
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: charlesa on February 07, 2013, 12:57:35 PM
Make money out of it, always seek natural light whatever the effort involved and the ungodly hour to find it!
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: picturesbyme on February 07, 2013, 02:00:41 PM
Someone who doesn't spend his/her time on forums, but out shooting/working  ;)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: crasher8 on February 07, 2013, 02:33:04 PM
I get paid here and there. I do NOT consider myself a pro. I am more like a hobbyist with a business license who files a Schedule C and 179.

Pro for me has nothing to do with compensation, it is how I regard someone's skill set. Me, I'm 48, still taking classes and just enjoying what I do. No fanciful dreams of being a Pro someday.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Plato the Wise on February 07, 2013, 02:33:22 PM
I don't see this question as black and white as some.

There are so many different types of photography and markets for different types of photos that the term pro or professional doesn't really apply.

For example - Ansel Adams was a fine art photographer. He didn't shoot weddings or to my knowledge even do any commercial work. Would you consider him a pro? He studied music and probably was broke for the early part of his career.

Professors at University's very often produce fine art photos or do commercial work in addition to teaching. Are they not professional photographers because they don't make photos "Full Time."

I know many photographers who earn all of their income through photography and even their work is not so cut and dry. They sell stock, make fine art prints, shoot photos for ads, or work on portraits for politicians.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: brett b on February 07, 2013, 03:12:58 PM
I don't see this question as black and white as some.

There are so many different types of photography and markets for different types of photos that the term pro or professional doesn't really apply.

For example - Ansel Adams was a fine art photographer. He didn't shoot weddings or to my knowledge even do any commercial work. Would you consider him a pro? He studied music and probably was broke for the early part of his career.

Professors at University's very often produce fine art photos or do commercial work in addition to teaching. Are they not professional photographers because they don't make photos "Full Time."

I know many photographers who earn all of their income through photography and even their work is not so cut and dry. They sell stock, make fine art prints, shoot photos for ads, or work on portraits for politicians.

I agree.

By most definitions detailed in this thread, I am a pro. However, many times I've had companies or people, who really like my work, attempt to hire me for jobs requiring photographic experience and skill that I don't currently possess...weddings and fashion mainly. While I could've taken these jobs, I think it would've been unethical to pretend that I was the best photographer for the job.

I guess my point is that professionals need to know their strengths and weaknesses and therefore set limitations on what jobs they agree to take. If I'm being paid to do something, I want to meet or exceed expectations. I would never want to let anyone down knowing that my skill wasn't up to the task. That said, you'll occasionally get an overly critical client who is impossible to please even though you know your work was excellent.

Not every pro can excel in every photographic medium. I know I'm very good in my area and if I want to add to my repertoire, I have to learn and practice enough to become skilled, competent and confident before selling it to a potential client.

I see many impressive, beautiful images posted on CR...from both amateurs and pros...which inspire me to try new things and continue to learn.

Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Pieces Of E on February 07, 2013, 03:14:18 PM
Just jumped into this thread without reading the previous entries, but my definition of "Pro"? Getting paid for our work and having to pay TAXES on the income and equipment!  :(
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Cptn Rigo on February 07, 2013, 03:16:49 PM
I respect a lot the term "Photographer", I still feel a little uncomfortable when people ask me if I'm one.

I'm a guy that loves to take photos, that's it.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: sandymandy on February 07, 2013, 06:04:32 PM
Some people say that when somebody earns money with photography theyre "pro". Somehow i gotta think of the guy in the small store in my town whos doing like 95% Id card photos or such. He earns money by this but i still dont think he is a pro... :P
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Alex on February 07, 2013, 06:33:33 PM
The kit makes you a pro obliviously.  ::)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: CharlieB on February 07, 2013, 10:11:55 PM
I'm curious. What does it mean to be a professional photographer?

To deliver professional results, and adhere to your commitments and contracts in a professional way, and to behave and conduct business in a professional way.  It doesn't matter if you shoot one wedding a year, or shoot one catalog a year... if you take the job, and act professionally, deliver professional goods, then you are a professional.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: shunsai on February 07, 2013, 11:11:11 PM
So many good and thoughtful replies! Thank you.
It's really not such a straightforward question, huh? The responses have given me a lot to think about.

Generally, I don't like the question when asked. I have ideas how I think about the term 'professional', but I can never be sure what people mean when they ask.

As for the answers you all have given, is that generally how you respond to others when asked? I mean, I don't imagine most people who ask are looking for a dissertation or our life stories on what it means to be a "pro". What are your default answers when asked?

I don't remember what I say, but it's probably something along the lines of: 'I do some paid jobs, but mostly photography is my hobby.' That's probably as succinctly as I'm willing to put it, short of "No".
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on February 07, 2013, 11:15:36 PM
Its actually very a well defined term, its just that some want to bend the meaning for some reason or another.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: jdramirez on February 07, 2013, 11:17:28 PM
Sure you can go with someone who makes money, but I think of a pro as someone who will get a really nice shot before lightroom.  Lightroom just takes it up a notch.  And this is in all situations... not just putting it on shutter priority and letting the camera do the job.  White balance, metering, shutter speed, aperture, bouncing light, etc.  And the the shots are unlike what most quality amateurs can get.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: jdramirez on February 07, 2013, 11:18:47 PM
I can drive a car... but I wouldn't race a car.  I can drive a taxi and get paid to drive, but it doesn't mean that I'm capable of performing at a high level.  Money doesn't define being a professional... it is the skill that is developed and honed to excellence.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: verysimplejason on February 07, 2013, 11:33:01 PM
Pro's are those who make money through photography.  I aspire to be an "ARTIST" though than a pro.  If I earn money through photography, then good.  If not, as long as I churn out good pictures for my collection, I'm fine with it.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: dolina on February 07, 2013, 11:35:34 PM
Dictionary definition and anyone who takes compensation for their work. No matter how badly it looks. :)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on February 08, 2013, 12:01:29 AM
Dictionary definition and anyone who takes compensation for their work. No matter how badly it looks. :)
I think the Dictionary definition defines the skill level too.
The main criteria for professionals include the following:
In the USA, the Government Defines Professional workers, and if you are working for someone else, it  determines how you are treated pay wise.  A professional is not paid hourly, or paid overtime, for example.  I hold a professional Engineers license, tough to get in my state, fewer pass the exams than attorneys.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: notapro on February 08, 2013, 12:37:18 AM
I don't see this question as black and white as some.

There are so many different types of photography and markets for different types of photos that the term pro or professional doesn't really apply.

For example - Ansel Adams was a fine art photographer. He didn't shoot weddings or to my knowledge even do any commercial work. Would you consider him a pro? He studied music and probably was broke for the early part of his career.

Professors at University's very often produce fine art photos or do commercial work in addition to teaching. Are they not professional photographers because they don't make photos "Full Time."

I know many photographers who earn all of their income through photography and even their work is not so cut and dry. They sell stock, make fine art prints, shoot photos for ads, or work on portraits for politicians.

Plato the Wise mentions a relevant issue in connection with those persons employed in higher education.  For those holding positions at institutions granting degrees (e.g., B.F.A. and M.F.A.), sustained production of art is required for tenure as well as for advancement to the associate and full professor ranks.  Such persons are artists employed at academic institutions (they hold titles of Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor) who have chosen photography as their medium.

Having met innumerable persons (not just photographers, but also artists in other fields) working in academia, I observe that they identify themselves as artists, not as professional photographers; as artists, not as professional painters; as artists, not as professional sculptors; and so forth.  There is yet another nuance, then, to the apparently "easy" business of definition.

What to make of artist self-identification?  Merely that, as this thread exemplifies, an absolute definition of "professional" in the context of photography (or in the context of art generally) is not self-evident, notwithstanding what may be found in Wikipedia, the dictionary, or elsewhere.

This is certainly an interesting and enjoyable thread.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Don Haines on February 08, 2013, 11:11:02 AM
There is also a moral and ethical dimension to being a professional... many of us get fixated on financial compensation, but that is as a result of the work, not a definition of the work.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: awinphoto on February 08, 2013, 11:58:38 AM
Sal Cincotta once said he would rather be better at being a better businessman vs being a better photographer, as that is what pays the bills, and Doug Gordon once said if someone ever mentioned that every shoot or wedding looked like every other wedding he had ever done, he would take that as a compliment.  Both are professional photographers... Both are outstanding photographers.  There are other professional photographers getting paid whom couldn't hold a candle to doug or sal or bambi contrell or sue bryce or sandy puc... But they are still professional at the end of the day, as they can do a job most people probably couldn't, for one reason or another... This is why "professional" is such a touchy and cloudy topic... Heck, someone mentioned professional footballers... well, NFL players get paid handsomely, but Canadian Football league also gets paid, although not a much as the NFL, and likewise also the Arena League football...  Just different levals of professional athletes, although all are "professional".  Just food for thought. 
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: AprilForever on February 08, 2013, 12:03:55 PM
I'm curious. What does it mean to be a professional photographer?

I don't exactly consider myself a pro, but I'm not a fan of referring to photography as just my "hobby".
I've invested quite a bit of money (for me) in photography equipment- bodies, lenses, strobes and other studio equipment. But I know the gear I have doesn't make me a professional.

I'm not super technical in my photography, but I consider myself knowing more than just the basics. I spent 5 years working as an assistant at a photography studio. I learned a lot and got some great experience. I also spent those 5 years in the back room retouching and post-producing photos. I consider myself technically intermediate and enjoy learning and trying new techniques from others.

I don't make my living off of my photography, but occasionally I will do small paid jobs.

I consider myself an amateur- not in the sense that I'm new or inexperienced, but in the sense that for now, I do photography because I love it.

So what exactly does it mean to be professional in your opinion? We know it's not the gear alone. Is it the making money off of your skill? Paid jobs? Making a living? Is it simply having skill and experience? What do you all think?

My main job is a nurse, though I sometimes do photography for pay. When in nursing school, there was this one class where they spent hours and hours trying to convince is that nursing is a profession, not just a job. The term professional is a very bantied-about term, and has come to meaning almost nothing in many cases today.

Webster's 1828 :PROFES'SIONAL, a. Pertaining to a profession or to a calling; as professional studies, pursuits, duties,engagements; professional character or skill.

PROFES'SION, n. The business which one professes to understand and to follow for subsistence; calling; vocation; employment; as the learned professions. We speak of the profession of a clergyman, of a lawyer, and of a physician or surgeon; the profession of lecturer on chimistry or mineralogy. But the word is not applied to an occupation merely mechanical.

Maybe that helps?
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Vivid Color on February 08, 2013, 12:43:57 PM
So many good and thoughtful replies! Thank you.
It's really not such a straightforward question, huh? The responses have given me a lot to think about.

Generally, I don't like the question when asked. I have ideas how I think about the term 'professional', but I can never be sure what people mean when they ask.

As for the answers you all have given, is that generally how you respond to others when asked? I mean, I don't imagine most people who ask are looking for a dissertation or our life stories on what it means to be a "pro". What are your default answers when asked?

I don't remember what I say, but it's probably something along the lines of: 'I do some paid jobs, but mostly photography is my hobby.' That's probably as succinctly as I'm willing to put it, short of "No".

I was about to ask you why you asked the question and you just answered that. Generally, if people are asking the question of whether you are a pro, they are trying to make light conversation and the meaning behind it is a compliment, so just saying "no" in response would be rather curt. I think your answer (or slight variations of it) is perfect for the situation you described. If the person asking has a nice camera, you can add, "And, what about you?" More than that in a first round reply, however, would be too much. Your instinct that people are not looking for a dissertation is one to trust.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Don Haines on February 09, 2013, 03:08:18 PM
An amateur is someone who can get it right in just one shot :)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: dolina on February 09, 2013, 10:07:05 PM
The thing with photography is the quality of work is often subjective. What is beautiful to one is plain garbage to the other.

So I largely prefer to describe photogs as working & non-working. Those who make a full time, part time or no time living in photography.

Dictionary definition and anyone who takes compensation for their work. No matter how badly it looks. :)
I think the Dictionary definition defines the skill level too.
The main criteria for professionals include the following:
  • Expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally.[5]
  • Excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession.[6]
  • High quality work in (examples): creations, products, services, presentations, consultancy, primary/other research, administrative, marketing, photography or other work endeavours.
  • A high standard of professional ethics, behaviour and work activities while carrying out one's profession (as an employee, self-employed person, career, enterprise, business, company, or partnership/associate/colleague, etc.). The professional owes a higher duty to a client, often a privilege of confidentiality, as well as a duty not to abandon the client just because he or she may not be able to pay or remunerate the professional. Often the professional is required to put the interest of the client ahead of his own interests.
  • Reasonable work morale and motivation. Having interest and desire to do a job well as holding positive attitude towards the profession are important elements in attaining a high level of professionalism.
  • Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues. Consideration should be shown to elderly, junior or inexperienced colleagues, as well as those with special needs. An example must be set to perpetuate the attitude of one's business without doing it harm.
  • A professional is an expert who is a master in a specific field.

In the USA, the Government Defines Professional workers, and if you are working for someone else, it  determines how you are treated pay wise.  A professional is not paid hourly, or paid overtime, for example.  I hold a professional Engineers license, tough to get in my state, fewer pass the exams than attorneys.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: digital paradise on February 10, 2013, 12:44:56 PM
Officially - you earn your living doing it. It does not mean you have to be good at it. I would add accredited, trained by recognized organizations, etc but by definition you don't require it. 

You can be on a roofing crew and do lousy work, get fired, go to Home Depot and buy a hammer, advertise yourself as a pro in the yellow pages, rip people off with shoddy workmanship and still call yourself a pro.   
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: florianbieler.de on February 10, 2013, 05:07:59 PM

I don't exactly consider myself a pro, but I'm not a fan of referring to photography as just my "hobby".

Nowadays I have to talk very much about my photography because nearly all my friends know what I'm doing and I put very much emphasis on the fact that it is only a hobby for me. A damn expensive one, that's right, but I have the feeling people appreciate more what I do when they know I do it not because I have to but because I want to, and that in my spare time. Also grants me the possibility to turn down requests for portrait shoots with people I don't really want to waste time on. I don't want to see it as work, and I don't want to do free portrait shoots of people that are clearly not photogenic.

So, I'm no pro obviously but I would label myself somewhere between very ambitious hobby photographer and semi-pro ;)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Hill Benson on February 10, 2013, 05:53:20 PM
I feel like a Pro when I'm shopping for lenses and gear and people praise my images. I feel like an amateur though when I discover that as much as people like my images, only a low percentage of these people would ever consider paying real money for one. I also feel like an amateur when my family refers my work to their friends and they seem to assume that my services and time are free.  :-[
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Powder Portraits on February 10, 2013, 06:23:32 PM
People have to be reminded of my professional status, when I am standing at the top of the ski area with my camera ready to offer my 30 years of experience, someone hands me a Iphone  and expects me to take their photo for free. I politely remind them that if you own a hammer and a saw plus some wood, a carpenter will not build you a house for free. so don't go to the doctors office with your own stethoscope and ask for a free exam.....

Just venting
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: giotto on February 10, 2013, 06:53:12 PM
A pro is someone who has to shoot what other people want him to shoot. I thank god, that I`m an amateur - I can do what I want. And if I don`t want any more, I take my gear and go home. And if I don`t want no more, I sell my gear and buy me other funny things.
That´s the freedom of photography - that the freedom of an AMATEUR

;-)))

Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Ryan_W on February 10, 2013, 09:00:50 PM
Found this somewhere - it's the actual definition of "professional" given by the National Labor Relations Act, (Title 29, Chapter 7, Subchapter II).  I've paraphrased it below:

Quote
"Professional employee" means "(a) any employee engaged in work (i) predominantly intellectual and varied in character as opposed to routine, mental, manual, mechanical, or physical work; (ii) involving the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment in its performance; (iii) of such a character that the output produced or the result accomplished cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time; (iv) requiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired in an institution of higher learning or a hospital; or (b) anyone who is training to become a professional."

I think this gives everyone some food for thought. Being a professional does not mean that you do something for money. In fact, you can be a professional and work for free - a problem that's plaguing the photography community today.

What's important in being considered a professional (by this standard, which is used to define exempt vs. non-exempt employment) is not that compensation is earned, but that the work is varied enough in its output that it goes beyond simple manual labor.

Using that definition I propose that a "professional" photographer is someone who doesn't just photograph the things in front of them (a pretty girl, a lovely forest, or a far-off location), but someone who creates varied and diverse imagery through the use of photographic technique.

Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Hillsilly on February 10, 2013, 10:39:10 PM
After thinking about this for a few days, I've started to dislike the term "professional photographer".  I think it is pretty meaningless and am not sure where the term would ever be used.  On tax returns, loan application forms, business cards, websites etc, you would only ever use the term "Photographer".  Nobody ever describes their occupation as "professional xxxxx".  The only time I ever see the word "Professional Photographer" is on application forms such as CPS (Canon Professional Services).  I suspect that they only use the word "professional" to make everyone sound important.  The membership criteria for CPS is that you work as a full-time paid photographer and have bought the right quantity and type of Canon cameras.  Your level of professionalism in how you conduct yourself or photographic skills isn't assessed as part of the application. 

Anyway, the reason that I've come to dislike the term "professional" photographer is that photography isn't a profession in the traditional sense.  There is no recognised educational or skill based pathway to become a "professional" photographer. There are no governing bodies.  There is no board which looks after the admission of members.  There are no reviews of people's skill levels and business conduct.  There is no disciplinary tribunal that acts against those bringing the professional into disrepute or to deal with client / photographer disputes.  There are no standards of conduct or recognised operating processes to ensure that clients receive obtain a satisfactory standard of work.

To become a profession, I'd suggest photographers need to: -

1. Set up a society. 

2. Set the minimum educational requirements - eg diploma or bachelor degree in a photography or art related field from an accredited institution.

3. Set up a postgraduate course that prospective members have to complete to be admitted as members.  The course will cover five or six keys subjects and be designed to be completed part time over two years while you are working as a paid photographer.  This course will cover advanced topics and be designed to be hard and challenging.  Many people will fail at least one subject.  Some won't be able to pass as at all.  You will have to be pretty good to become society members.

4.  Set a high annual membership fee.  Much of the membership fees will be directed towards advertising so that the general public knows that using a society member helps ensure high quality.  This also helps society members charge/justify higher fees.  Everyone knows you're not just a person who picked up a camera for the first time last week.  You are a professional with significant training, skills and knowledge.

5.  Mandate continual professional education.  Members have to dedicate 30 hours a year toward seminars, conferences, reading and podcasts from accredited educational providers to improve and update their skills.

6.  Every three to five years, the society reviews your work and your business to ensure you are continuing to meet the high standards expected.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: bdunbar79 on February 11, 2013, 12:04:28 AM
After thinking about this for a few days, I've started to dislike the term "professional photographer".  I think it is pretty meaningless and am not sure where the term would ever be used.  On tax returns, loan application forms, business cards, websites etc, you would only ever use the term "Photographer".  Nobody ever describes their occupation as "professional xxxxx".  The only time I ever see the word "Professional Photographer" is on application forms such as CPS (Canon Professional Services).  I suspect that they only use the word "professional" to make everyone sound important.  The membership criteria for CPS is that you work as a full-time paid photographer and have bought the right quantity and type of Canon cameras.  Your level of professionalism in how you conduct yourself or photographic skills isn't assessed as part of the application. 

Anyway, the reason that I've come to dislike the term "professional" photographer is that photography isn't a profession in the traditional sense.  There is no recognised educational or skill based pathway to become a "professional" photographer. There are no governing bodies.  There is no board which looks after the admission of members.  There are no reviews of people's skill levels and business conduct.  There is no disciplinary tribunal that acts against those bringing the professional into disrepute or to deal with client / photographer disputes.  There are no standards of conduct or recognised operating processes to ensure that clients receive obtain a satisfactory standard of work.

To become a profession, I'd suggest photographers need to: -

1. Set up a society. 

2. Set the minimum educational requirements - eg diploma or bachelor degree in a photography or art related field from an accredited institution.

3. Set up a postgraduate course that prospective members have to complete to be admitted as members.  The course will cover five or six keys subjects and be designed to be completed part time over two years while you are working as a paid photographer.  This course will cover advanced topics and be designed to be hard and challenging.  Many people will fail at least one subject.  Some won't be able to pass as at all.  You will have to be pretty good to become society members.

4.  Set a high annual membership fee.  Much of the membership fees will be directed towards advertising so that the general public knows that using a society member helps ensure high quality.  This also helps society members charge/justify higher fees.  Everyone knows you're not just a person who picked up a camera for the first time last week.  You are a professional with significant training, skills and knowledge.

5.  Mandate continual professional education.  Members have to dedicate 30 hours a year toward seminars, conferences, reading and podcasts from accredited educational providers to improve and update their skills.

6.  Every three to five years, the society reviews your work and your business to ensure you are continuing to meet the high standards expected.

Except none of that makes any financial sense.  Nobody would become a professional photographer because nobody could afford to do all that, or at least, why bother?  Most will go into something else.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: trojdor on February 11, 2013, 12:16:53 AM
I'm really impressed with the depth, insight and humor of some of these answers!

My definition of the difference between an amateur and pro has always been summed up thus:
Given the time and perhaps a little luck, an amateur photographer can capture a perfect image.
A pro does it while running a fever, after 4 hours sleep, and in bad weather...all on a schedule.

(Honestly though, I kind of prefer some of the other definitions.)

 :)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: markwilliams279 on February 11, 2013, 05:26:01 AM
A professional photographer earns 100% of his income from photography and is called a “pro”. People who earn less than 50% of their income from photography are amateurs.

Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Zv on February 11, 2013, 08:31:38 AM
Hillsilly makes one good point - I prefer the term "photographer" to pro or amateur. Amateur kind of implies you still have much to learn (which is bull, since I know loads of highly skilled amateurs) but if some potential client asks I'm hardly going to turn around and say "yeah I'm an amateur". I'm a photographer, simple as that.

Putting the word professional in front of a job description / title is a bit daft. "Hey I'm a professional road sweeper because I make a living from it".

 
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: RAWShooter126 on February 11, 2013, 09:59:47 AM
I am, as well, a hobbyist photographer and I would by no means call myself a "pro".
Being a professional is purely occupational. If you make money doing something and you continue to gain revenue from your work then that in my opinion is professional.
Same goes for the tax office here in Australia, my parents used to do markets and I think the law was that you had to register as a business when you made more than $5,000 in profit, otherwise it could be considered as a hobby and you would not need to pay tax on it, but don't quote me.

Working in retail for the past 11 years, I have been trained by a number of bosses on how to conduct myself in a professional manner and how to present that professionalism to customers as they need it.
I would consider myself a professional with what I do because I assist a business in their daily function to help them with various chores and service to customers, for which I am paid.
There is such a thing as professional courtesy as well, but that is more of a type of etiquette as is the manner of professionalism itself so clearly this is still a subjective matter.

Still I would say that a professional is, someone who is experienced, active and capable in what he/she does and is able to make a living doing so. A professional is able to communicate well with all assosiated people within the business (customers/clients/employers/etc) and is able to asist them for what they need with courtesy to those said needs.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: shunsai on February 11, 2013, 11:00:24 AM
I'm really impressed with the depth, insight and humor of some of these answers!

My definition of the difference between an amateur and pro has always been...

(Honestly though, I kind of prefer some of the other definitions.)

 :)

This pretty much sums up how I feel. I'm getting a kick out of reading this thread and the wide variety of responses! I still have my own ideas, but they're not so concrete as some of the ones here. Still giving me a lot to think about.  :D I'm starting to think that for many people here, it doesn't have to be "either" "or"... for some of you, you can very well be- BOTH!
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: florianbieler.de on February 11, 2013, 11:46:05 AM
Oh I might add, I feel as an amateur when my portrait work with lots and lots of unpaid hours gets times 1000 less affection than someone's lunch vintage filtered on instagram. I mean, fuck Instagram.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: dstppy on February 11, 2013, 12:16:11 PM
*MY* definition of a "Professional Photographer" is someone who's primary business is taking photographs.

Now, that is a phrase I'll never use, because it's misleading (and why you asked the question).  There are many people in business that do only one thing, but unpaid 'amateurs' can do better (car repair comes to mind).

I prefer to categorize photographers by their skills and knowledge . . .
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Don Haines on February 11, 2013, 12:46:45 PM
A professional photographer earns 100% of his income from photography and is called a “pro”. People who earn less than 50% of their income from photography are amateurs.

You should meet a friend of mine.... formally educated in photography at RIT.. Works 3 days per week on the computer to pay the bills, the rest of the time is hers to pursue photography. The money from photography is substantially less than 1/4 of her income, yet I would have no problems describing her as a professional photographer.

Money is not the definition. A substantial number of artists and craftspeople pay the bills with mundane jobs and then are free to pursue thier passion.

Who is more of a photographer? The clerk at the passport office who takes hundreds of "portraits" per day, or the person who goes off into the woods for a week to take woodpecker pictures?
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: ashmadux on February 11, 2013, 12:56:54 PM
Pro is when people pay you for your services. Period.

You don't have to think the person is good, or even very talented, but they satisfy a business need and are compensated.

The End.


Cheers and beers  8)
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: tron on February 11, 2013, 12:57:18 PM
I have no problem with this definition. I know I am an amateur. Photography is just my hobby.

Now, if lenses were a little cheaper  ;D
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: ashmadux on February 11, 2013, 12:58:28 PM
Pro for me is somebody who is standing out of the photography crowd. Just earning money with photography doesnt mean they are pro photographers but rather..."pro workers"  imho. Like not every chef is a pro i think. They can all cook the same perhaps, but the star chef somehow makes it taste more awesome.

Being a pro is not about what one 'thinks'- because everyone has an opinion, it would be pretty worthless anyways.

Dont confuse pro with skill level
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: 7enderbender on February 11, 2013, 02:10:04 PM
[...]

Or the controversial Ken Rockwell's definition:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/what-is-a-pro.htm (http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/what-is-a-pro.htm)


-PW


What does that tell us about Rockwell other than that he's probably a full-time dunce? Did he just "fail at another career" or is there another reason he's begging for donations "to support his family"?

Anyway. To me this a mute point. And I'm glad that at least in this country "photographer" is not a protected title that you need some license for and have to go to trade school for for 5 years. Or one where you get your tires slashed if you don't join the trade union (or worse).

The percentage of income I make from photography is completely and utterly irrelevant. One simple reason is that the other sources of income don't have anything to do with photography. The time factor I could almost understand but even that doesn't quite hold water. So that boils down to something between me and the IRS and says nothing about my skill level (or lack thereof).

I am a working professional in another area and that consumes most of my time during the week. With my remaining time I pick and choose what I want to do. I don't rely on income from photography but have decided at some point that I need to charge "professional grade" fees. I deliver professional grade results and hence want this reflected in what I get paid. The other pros in my neighborhood appreciate that. And if I do work for free then it's for charity organisations or other causes that I want to support. Even those folks will receive a billing statement going forward so that there is no misunderstanding about the value they are getting for free.

And if Joe the Pro or the Rockwells of this world in their Domke vests have a problem with that I can't help them.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: 7enderbender on February 11, 2013, 02:41:39 PM
After thinking about this for a few days, I've started to dislike the term "professional photographer".  I think it is pretty meaningless and am not sure where the term would ever be used.  On tax returns, loan application forms, business cards, websites etc, you would only ever use the term "Photographer".  Nobody ever describes their occupation as "professional xxxxx".  The only time I ever see the word "Professional Photographer" is on application forms such as CPS (Canon Professional Services).  I suspect that they only use the word "professional" to make everyone sound important.  The membership criteria for CPS is that you work as a full-time paid photographer and have bought the right quantity and type of Canon cameras.  Your level of professionalism in how you conduct yourself or photographic skills isn't assessed as part of the application. 

Anyway, the reason that I've come to dislike the term "professional" photographer is that photography isn't a profession in the traditional sense.  There is no recognised educational or skill based pathway to become a "professional" photographer. There are no governing bodies.  There is no board which looks after the admission of members.  There are no reviews of people's skill levels and business conduct.  There is no disciplinary tribunal that acts against those bringing the professional into disrepute or to deal with client / photographer disputes.  There are no standards of conduct or recognised operating processes to ensure that clients receive obtain a satisfactory standard of work.

To become a profession, I'd suggest photographers need to: -

1. Set up a society. 

2. Set the minimum educational requirements - eg diploma or bachelor degree in a photography or art related field from an accredited institution.

3. Set up a postgraduate course that prospective members have to complete to be admitted as members.  The course will cover five or six keys subjects and be designed to be completed part time over two years while you are working as a paid photographer.  This course will cover advanced topics and be designed to be hard and challenging.  Many people will fail at least one subject.  Some won't be able to pass as at all.  You will have to be pretty good to become society members.

4.  Set a high annual membership fee.  Much of the membership fees will be directed towards advertising so that the general public knows that using a society member helps ensure high quality.  This also helps society members charge/justify higher fees.  Everyone knows you're not just a person who picked up a camera for the first time last week.  You are a professional with significant training, skills and knowledge.

5.  Mandate continual professional education.  Members have to dedicate 30 hours a year toward seminars, conferences, reading and podcasts from accredited educational providers to improve and update their skills.

6.  Every three to five years, the society reviews your work and your business to ensure you are continuing to meet the high standards expected.


Why? Why would you suggest something like this? There is enough of this already in the world. And 99% of it is nonsense, cooked up by protectivist interest groups that still believe that the size of pies is fixed instead of getting busy growing the pie. We're not building planes or perform brain surgery where some kind of board approval may be useful to some degree (mostly to have a central place to track any misconduct).
Everything else is between the professional and his or her clients.

I always find this mind-boggling how "the trades" push for stuff like this. And the only reason is always to keep others out of business. Literally. And anyone who ever had a roof redone or a new heating system installed know that licensure is no guarantee for quality work.

What you're suggesting is basically the old Medieval trade union. With or without henchmen I don't know.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Cptn Rigo on February 11, 2013, 03:18:56 PM
I can drive a car... but I wouldn't race a car.  I can drive a taxi and get paid to drive, but it doesn't mean that I'm capable of performing at a high level.  Money doesn't define being a professional... it is the skill that is developed and honed to excellence.

its the Money what define a professional, it sucks, but its the hard definition
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Zv on February 11, 2013, 11:30:17 PM
[...]

Or the controversial Ken Rockwell's definition:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/what-is-a-pro.htm (http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/what-is-a-pro.htm)


-PW


What does that tell us about Rockwell other than that he's probably a full-time dunce? Did he just "fail at another career" or is there another reason he's begging for donations "to support his family"?

Anyway. To me this a mute point. And I'm glad that at least in this country "photographer" is not a protected title that you need some license for and have to go to trade school for for 5 years. Or one where you get your tires slashed if you don't join the trade union (or worse).

The percentage of income I make from photography is completely and utterly irrelevant. One simple reason is that the other sources of income don't have anything to do with photography. The time factor I could almost understand but even that doesn't quite hold water. So that boils down to something between me and the IRS and says nothing about my skill level (or lack thereof).

I am a working professional in another area and that consumes most of my time during the week. With my remaining time I pick and choose what I want to do. I don't rely on income from photography but have decided at some point that I need to charge "professional grade" fees. I deliver professional grade results and hence want this reflected in what I get paid. The other pros in my neighborhood appreciate that. And if I do work for free then it's for charity organisations or other causes that I want to support. Even those folks will receive a billing statement going forward so that there is no misunderstanding about the value they are getting for free.

And if Joe the Pro or the Rockwells of this world in their Domke vests have a problem with that I can't help them.

+1 and well said. The amount of work some photographers put in should be at least recognized. I think I will definitely make people aware of the hours I put in before handing out freebies. Two weeks of post processing and editing work on the PC - that's what? At least $500. Maybe more. Some people owe me some serious favours!!!
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Hillsilly on February 11, 2013, 11:40:13 PM
...We're not building planes or perform brain surgery where some kind of board approval may be useful to some degree ...

Surely, bad wedding photography leads to a higher incidence of divorce?  Think of the cost to society!  It's time for government action now to stop these unregulated photographers destroying people's lives!!

But seriously, you're probably missreading this with a negative approach, rather than the positive slant I wanted to portray.  My intention is not to create barriers to entry or restrictions for work, make membership complusory, make only employees of members eligible for membership, promote anti competitve beahviour or price fixing.  Instead, my suggestion is to provide photographers who show a real dedication to their calling a formal pathway to help promote their level of skill and expertise.  They can then leverage upon their extra training and experience to become members of the association.  At the same time, the association will be promoting the benefits of choosing a member.  If this is done successfully, putting the associations logo on business cards, websites etc will subconcsciously help influence the client's decision to approach you for a quote and hopefully lead to more, better paying, work.  It is a way for people to appreciate why your prices are higher than your competition - and will gladly pay it.   

With an ever growing number of photographers (and a lot of amateurs who are pretty good) this is a way to stand out from the crowd.  It's about having a way to instantly convey that you are probably well above average at what you do. 
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Stickman on February 12, 2013, 12:21:45 AM
If you think this is bad, watch the fire fighters go back and forth at it.  "Volunteers" versus "Professionals"...
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: Hillsilly on February 12, 2013, 01:07:51 AM
Hillsilly,

You should join the RPS and do one of their Distinctions.

You'd probably have to be a good photographer.  That kind of rules me out.

But that's along the lines that I was thinking.  The Australian Photographic Society is similar.  I assume most countries have similar associations.  Where my idea differs to the honours system is that the photographic societies recognise people that can take exceptional photos.  They may or may not be the same people that you can rely on to consistently produce images of high quality that satisfies their client's demands in a professional way.  Also, membership is open to all, which diminishes the prestige and marketing advantages of being a member.

But realistically, it is these societies that would be the ideal peak professional bodies.  Maybe a new membership category.
Title: Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
Post by: vab3 on February 12, 2013, 09:08:33 AM
One of the problems in this discussion is that the word professional has two meanings.  One is a general term relating to the quality of one's work, one's ethics, and how reliable one is, with respect to others in a certain line of work.  The other generally means that you are paid to do the work as opposed to doing it as a hobby.  Ideally the two would go hand in hand but not always. 

I believe Ken's definitions are useful his audience -- which is mainly people who are about to spend too much money on a camera.