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Author Topic: What's your definition of "Pro"?  (Read 10879 times)

Hillsilly

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #60 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.
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #60 on: February 10, 2013, 10:39:10 PM »

bdunbar79

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #61 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.
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trojdor

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #62 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.)

 :)

markwilliams279

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #63 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.

Mark Williams

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #64 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".

 
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RAWShooter126

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #65 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.
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shunsai

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #66 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!

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #66 on: February 11, 2013, 11:00:24 AM »

florianbieler.de

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #67 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.
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dstppy

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #68 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 . . .
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Don Haines

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #69 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?
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ashmadux

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #70 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.

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tron

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #71 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

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #72 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
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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #72 on: February 11, 2013, 12:58:28 PM »

7enderbender

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #73 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


-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.
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7enderbender

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Re: What's your definition of "Pro"?
« Reply #74 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 #74 on: February 11, 2013, 02:41:39 PM »