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Author Topic: What's your definition of "Pro"?  (Read 9412 times)

7enderbender

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #75 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.
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #75 on: February 11, 2013, 02:41:39 PM »

Cptn Rigo

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #76 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
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Zv

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #77 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


-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!!!
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Hillsilly

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #78 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. 
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 11:48:43 PM by Hillsilly »
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Stickman

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #79 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"...

Hillsilly

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #80 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.
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vab3

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #81 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.

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #81 on: February 12, 2013, 09:08:33 AM »