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.