Are you cut out to be a professional photographer? Do you have what it takes? And even if the answer is yes, SHOULD you become a professional photographer?
In this video, I offer some opinions and personal insight on the differences between professional and amateur photography. I start by going over the definitions of “professional” and “amateur.” Now, while some might argue that “photographer” is, by default, a professional designation, like plumber or doctor, I don’t really take that position. Some photographers are professionals, and some are not. Some of us do it for the love of it, and some of us do it to earn a living.
The Pros and Cons
So what are the pros and cons of professional photography? This pretty much comes down to what it is you’re really after; what excites and motivates you. If you want to own your own business and be your own boss, professional photography might be the thing for you. But being your own boss, like any small business owner knows, can be a mixed bag. The potential for financial independence is certainly there, but it can be a struggle to get things going, and to keep them going.
Sure, you’ll get to use a camera, but you’ll also have to compete for business. You’ll need to sell yourself constantly, deal with customers at all phases of the sales cycle, and work with partners and vendors. Networking, marketing, accounting, customer service, contracts and paperwork, insurance, extra help… there’s a lot going on that you’ll need to manage. Running a small business can be risky and tough, but for many, it’s worth the trouble. But if you’re an artist at heart, there’s one thing that might be a dealbreaker for you when it comes to considering photography as a profession: compromise.
As an amateur, most of the potential pitfalls I mentioned before disappear. You are completely free to photograph on your own terms. Instead of having many bosses as a service professional, you’ll really only have one person to answer to, and that’s yourself! If you’re an artist, you probably place a high value on freedom. It’s hard to find a downside when it comes to doing what you love, completely on your own terms.
Should You Go Pro?
If you like the idea of running a small business, professional photography might be for you. At the very least, it’s something you should look into. But don’t do it just because you think it’s the next or inevitable step toward “real photographer” status. There are plenty of professional photographers out there that aren’t very talented with a camera, so going pro doesn’t magically elevate your skill or standing. There are also plenty of non-pros who are incredibly talented and well-respected.
And check out my YouTube channel for photography tutorials.