Professional vs. Amateur Photographer - Dreamstime

I have been scouring the blogs lately and I have seen a certain wall between professional photographers and amateur photographers. I have read the arguments that anyone with a digital camera can now snap a decent shot and upload "stock" photos and essentially dilute the stock photo pool so to speak. It is assumed that people who do not have an education in photography or expensive camera equipment are hurting this industry in some way.

I have spent countless hours pondering this and asking myself which category I would fall into. I don't consider myself to be a professional by any means as I have a college degree but it is in no way relevant to photography. But on the other hand, photography has been a passion of mine for over 20 years. My father loved photography and always had very expensive equipment and took pictures by the hundreds everywhere we went. But it was his hobby, not his profession. I have 3 older sisters and every one of them have expensive cameras and enjoy photography as a hobby. I still remember when my dad bought me my first Kodak camera for my 13th birthday and I was in seventh heaven. I had no clue what I was doing, but I knew that I loved taking pictures.

All these years since, I have snapped and snapped and snapped. And I have studied and studied and studied. I didn't wake up one day and consider myself a pro by any means. I just knew that I loved capturing art through my eyes. And when I reviewed my pictures I considered them more artsy than just snapshots.

I have always shared my pictures or "art" as I consider it with my web friends. Pretty soon I had people asking me to shoot their senior portraits or their weddings or their belly bumps or baby showers. So I soon found myself buying all the equipment I needed to facilitate these requests and upgrading from digital to DSLR. I have a fully equipped photo studio in the downstairs of my home and I buy goodies and gadgets every chance that I get.

It is just a difficult place when you don't know where you stand. I was shocked when I found out I could make stock and I am still quite new at this. I have struggled to find my niche. But do I love taking pictures? Yes. Do I get paid for taking pictures? Yes. Do I have requests for my photography? Yes, constantly. Does that make me a professional? Um, no. At least not in the way that I would consider a professional, educated and highly experienced. But I also know that I am more than just an average Joe uploading a cute digital pic to a stock sight. I know that I work hard for every image I take. I know that I spend hours every day working on my photography and that this is my only job other than being a mother.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. And on one hand I understand that people who have spent countless years studying this craft don't want to see the average Joe jump in and get just as much credit. Yet on the other hand I think that a complete novice still might have something wonderful to offer as no two persons eyes will see things quite the same.

People who buy photos are going to pour over these pics and the reality is that you might have 1000 photos and I might have only 25 and they still might buy my picture anyhow. It isn't because I want to take anything away from anyone else. It is simply because I want to feel my passion and do what I love which happens to be photography. I absolutely consider myself a newbie. But I also consider myself to be totally viable. And just think for a moment, every time that someone searches a photo that is relevant to one of yours, it gives your picture a greater chance at exposure. And if you are a professional, you likely have a leg up.

Photo credits: Ronalesa Haslem.

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May 14, 2012


Well said!!

May 12, 2012


Very nicely put. It's the love of photography that is the difference for all of us.

May 12, 2012


I'm an Amateur photographer. I like taking photos when I'm happy. I took my best photo without someone had required me a photo. I beleive that with my character, I couldn't became a professional photografer.

May 11, 2012


I agree and thank you!

May 11, 2012


I really enjoy your blog, I guess that a photographer that tries to get better and better images becomes a pro, but that should be said only from the people that looks at the photographers work.

May 11, 2012


I love all the feedback. I never even considered myself a photographer until I started hearing my kids always referring to me as such. I guess I still consider this a hobby. It just happens to be a hobby that people pay me for. I look at other peoples work and I hope that in time I will be able to create such beautiful art :)

May 11, 2012


ahhh I think a professional photographer is one that has an eye and the heart to put in every part of their creation. I had a full time studio for 12 years and a free lance location studio for 7... worked at 4 other 'pro' studios over the years and it has been my profession for almost 30 years now. however.. as a newbie to stock its a different game! I am constantly humbled to relearn things I though I knew and accept rejection and move on . I love how you say we all see things differently.. so true! keep on shooting and know if you are doing what you love.. then you are a pro!

May 11, 2012


Very interesting!!!

May 11, 2012


A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. Not to be confused with quality.

I think any complaints come from full time photographers who have invested time and money in schooling, joining professional associations etc and feel they've earned the right to make money off their work.

The term "professional" is often used in marketing to represent high quality but in the art world many of the greatest artist of all time had no formal training. You can't really teach someone how to be creative.

In this market place the only thing that matters is an image that the buyer wants.

May 11, 2012


Very interesting.............being here at Dreamstime constantly makes you try to raise your game........ so its a learning curve for everybody. David.

May 11, 2012


My opinion on pro vs amateur is pretty simple. If you make the majority of your income from photography ( a good income, not a few hundred $$ a year ) then you could be considered a pro. In this digital world you can pretty much be anything you want to be, depends on what you want and want to be called. I have been lucky enough to win a few awards, I turn down shooting weddings regularly, I have a few sales on here but I do not consider myself a pro, just a photographer. I'm sure I could use the title if I wanted to and many could not argue with it but I choose not to. I have taken part in many photo comp's on Facebook as a way of getting feedback on pictures but have been asked to leave a few amateur groups just because I sell photo's here and to those with little knowledge see that as being a pro. So basically call yourself what ever makes you happy, if your going to try and set up a photography business i.e weddings/portrait etc it hardly looks great calling yourself an amateur.

May 11, 2012


Hey thanks! And you know what? When I google "glass path" and click on images, my picture pops up in the top row!! Next to all the glass path images of the Grand Canyon. That makes me feel pretty great. And my photos have been published in my local paper which probably doesn't mean much other than that I send them photos of relevant happenings. But it still feels semi pro, LOL!

May 11, 2012


Hey, Welcome to the club. Most people here are amateurs. This is OK. DT would not be able to function without them.
Your 25 uploads plus my 654 plus many other people and they have a few million photos online.
If you keep up the good work the least you can achieve is to buy your equipment from your DT income which is nice. But some people do better. No reason to call them professionals as most of them have day jobs. Another byproduct is that if somebody googles your name pretty soon the DT photos will show up and then... you can call yourself a professional :)

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