- 8 years ago
I read an interesting article written by Ken Rockwell. I thought it would be (although much is opinion) a good followup to LB Photography’s sticky. Seems like everyone and their brother is calling themself a professional photographer now a days….
Here are a few excerpts from the article……
“Professions are occupations like law and medicine. You don’t need board certification or a licence to be a photographer. You don’t even need a college degree!
Only some occupations are professions.
I’m defining professional more precisely than getting paid to do something. Your dad paying you to mow the lawn may make you a professional lawn mowerer, but it doesn’t make mowing your family’s lawn a profession.
A profession is an occupation in which a person is paid for his knowledge. Professionals are paid to profess, or to talk. The word “professional” comes from the same root as “professor.” A person engaged in a professional occupation is called a professional.
A professional is paid to provide information. A professional is not paid to produce tangible goods or services.
Professionals are paid for what they know, not for what they do or produce.
Professions almost always require at least a four-year degree and some sort of accreditation by organizations staffed by other than members of that profession. Medical doctors, pilots, CPAs and lawyers are required to pass boards to become certified. Members of these professions are only hired or allowed to practice if they both have the education and certification from third parties. They go to jail if they practice with an expired license.
Landscape architects are professionals paid to design landscape. They don’t do landscaping; landscapers do.
CPAs are paid to tell me how much taxes I owe. They don’t pay them for me.
Teachers are professionals. Even kindergarten teachers usually need at least Masters’ degree and a teaching certificate issued by a US state. Teachers are paid for what knowledge they can impart to others, not to produce anything tangible.
Obviously photography is not a profession. This problem stunts the many bright people who attempt to pursue it as such. The people doing the hiring know this, and pay low because they can. Anyone may call themselves a professional photographer and practice photography.
Trades are occupations in which one is paid to produce something tangible.
Trades deliver, license or produce tangible goods, like clocks or photographs, or perform labor or physical services on your physical assets, like your car or house.
Professions don’t require prefacing with “professional.” For instance, one doesn’t say a “professional banker” or “professional dentist” since people don’t do banking or practice medicine as hobbies.
When people do hobbies for money then one prefaces it with “professional,” for instance, “professional golfer” or “professional photographer.”
Photography is a trade. Photographers are paid to create, deliver, license or sell photographs. Photography requires training and specialized knowledge like other trades, but doesn’t require a licence or even a college degree as a profession does.
There are many photography organizations that hand out certifications. These organizations consist of photographers looking out for themselves. Photographers handing out certifications amongst themselves don’t count to people who might hire them. If you have to explain what CPP from PPA means to a potential client, it doesn’t matter. Anyone can call themselves a photographer.
Full-Time Career Pro
A Full-Time Career Professional Photographer is a person who has been a full-time photographer for his entire career.
He works all day, every day, ever since he graduated college.
These guys buy whatever gear they need, since the cost of gear is trivial compared to how much they use it. If something saves them 5 minutes a day or has a clearer viewfinder to peer through 12 hours a day, it doesn’t matter if it costs $8,000. For these guys, even very little things, like AF sensors that don’t clutter the viewfinder, are very important.
A full-time pro works the same as the Full-Time Career Professional Photographer, but failed at some other career and fell back on his hobby to try to make money.
If he hasn’t been doing it very long, he may still worry about gear costs since he’s not sure how long it will be until he’ll get another real job. These worries come from back when he had a real job, and his boss tried to get cheap with the tools. The Career Pro doesn’t worry: if a new tool saves him more time over its life than the cost of ownership, it’s a no-brainer to buy it.
A professional photographer is a photographer who earns 100% of his income from photography.
People who earn less than 50% of their income from photography are amateurs.
People who shoot weddings every single weekend while holding down another job aren’t professional photographers. People who sell prints at art fairs, but still have real jobs, are still amateurs.
Different people and organizations will argue over what income percentage defines professional. I won’t get into that here, but these numbers vary wildly.
These weekend amateurs typically use the cheapest gear they can. That’s OK, and the way to run a part-time business. Rich amateurs will buy any gear they want.
Your homeowners’ insurance company probably will define you as a commercial enterprise even if you’ve sold just one photo, ever. Ask before you make that first print for a friend; you may invalidate all your equipment coverage!
For decades I avoided selling even one print. The jump in my insurance rates would have made the sale of a few prints pointless.”