Many people have asked me if I’m a professional photographer and some might say, when they see my work, that I am. Despite years of experience and how much I continue to study about photography I don’t consider myself a “pro”. I always say to myself "my work will take care of that by itself".
Let’s take a dive into this conversation and define “amateur” and “professional” and try to figure out this debate.
An amateur is, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession or one lacking in experience and competence in an art or science.
A professional is, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, one characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession.
According to the definitions, once you know and abide by the technical and/or ethical standards of an art or science, do it full time and expects payment for it you are by definition a professional. In other words if you take paid jobs on the weekends you can’t be considered a professional at whatever it is you do. Even if your work is similar or better than a professionals.
Who’s to say you lack the experience or competence of such profession? Who can say if one needs a year and the other ten to completely understand an art? I know people that are born incredibly talented and others who develop that talent through time. The answer to these questions is, you. You determine if you consider your work professional or not.
Why I consider myself an amateur after 7 plus years, you might ask? It’s not that I don’t consider my work professional, as a matter of fact I do consider it to be professional. Nonetheless I will never stop learning and studying and in that sense I do consider myself, not my work, an amateur. If I ever get to the point where I feel there is nothing to learn I will know that it is time to stop and do something else other than photography.
Let me use the photo above as an example. The photo was taken by my daughter (Gabriela, 13 y/o) at 4pm under a blazing sun. I guess that you should know something about the exposure triangle to get a result like this under those conditions. She got interested in photography when she saw me working with my pictures. I showed her the photo I made of her, the one that's at the start of this post, and told her to learn how to make it and to study the exposure triangle. She figured out pretty much everything by herself only thing I did was tell her how to set the strobe. In terms of composition there is nothing fancy about it but you’ll learn a thing or two about exposure while trying to make this shot. I encourage you to try it.
I’m not saying my daughter is a professional photographer or anyone that picks up a camera is. What I’m saying is you will always be learning and the rhetoric varies and is dependent on the one who is speaking or writing it at a particular moment.
Everyone will have an opinion, including you. Whose opinion is going to have more weight?
That is all for now. As always it’s an honor to have you as my readers. Questions and comments in the comments section below. If you like my blog please share it and consider subscribing to my newsletter so you know when new content is posted.
Thank you and keep shooting;
Through the Lens of an Amateur.
Written by Ricardo J Martínez.