The secret to becoming an authentic photographer is to stand behind a real photographer and take the same picture… over and over and over again, until you understand. Figuratively, that is what school is. It is what many books are. How successful you will be depends upon how you learn and how observant you are. School might be faster because the teacher is more forthcoming with information packaged for consumption. For most jobs, school is just the prerequisite, the real learning starts after you graduate.
Anyone can take a great photo. Two great photos is a bit harder, twenty or two hundred harder still. She is right about shooting a lot, however. For “The Sense of Sight” at National Geographic, Joe McNally shot almost 1,200 rolls of film or almost 43,200 slides! Eventually 40 shots ended up in the magazine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VacqxeJ8AN8 is a fascinating way to spend 17 minutes.
It’s not about the education, or the equipment, or the editing. It’s about the final image. Being professional is about consistently creating good images.