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Author Topic: What's your definition of "Pro"?  (Read 12186 times)

dolina

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2013, 11:35:34 PM »
Dictionary definition and anyone who takes compensation for their work. No matter how badly it looks. :)
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2013, 11:35:34 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #46 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:
  • 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.

notapro

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #47 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.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 02:28:11 PM by notapro »

Don Haines

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #48 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.
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awinphoto

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #49 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. 
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 12:03:02 PM by awinphoto »
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #50 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?
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #51 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.

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #51 on: February 08, 2013, 12:43:57 PM »

Don Haines

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #52 on: February 09, 2013, 03:08:18 PM »
An amateur is someone who can get it right in just one shot :)
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dolina

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #53 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.
Visit my Flickr, Facebook & 500px and see my photos. :)

digital paradise

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #54 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.   

florianbieler.de

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #55 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 ;)
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #56 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.  :-[
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #57 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

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #57 on: February 10, 2013, 06:23:32 PM »

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #58 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

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Ryan_W

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #59 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.


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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #59 on: February 10, 2013, 09:00:50 PM »