Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography At what point do you consider yourself/others as a professional photographer?

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    I’m just wondering when people consider themselves to be ‘professional’ rather than just hobbyist or the dreaded ‘fauxtographer’? My friends and family refer to me as a photographer when talking about me to other people, however I just don’t feel I am. I’ve just done my first little paid job for my boyfriend’s office block taking photos of the building and an empty office up for rent, etc to put on their website, and another job for my boyfriend taking profile pictures of them all in and around their office for their business website. I also work for a professional wedding photographer as his assistant, but he also lets me take photos of the table details with whatever camera he’s not using at the time, which is an awesome privilege, however I don’t feel things like this make me professional, but at what point do people go for the big leap from being just a person with a camera who can take good photos, to a professional? I have never done anything remotely photography related in my studies, I’m completely self taught, whereas I feel most professionals did it to college or even degree level. Hope this makes sense, I realise I’ve burbled a bit! 🙂


    A photographer is one who writes with light.  Take out your cell phone, set camera mode, press shutter button.  Congratulations, you are a photographer.

    A professional photographer is one who derives, or hopes to derive, a primary amount of income from photography.  Having a business number/registered.  Having a tax number.  Having a quantity of spare equipment.  Having sufficient insurance.  Keeping track of income.  All of these things point toward it being a business rather than a hobby.

    I haven’t researched the origin of the word “Fauxtographer”, but here it seems to mean someone who has set up a portrait or wedding business without a clue about how to create a reasonable photo.  The front page, here, has some excellent examples of bad photos.  There are other examples in some of the threads, here, as well.  By contrast, if you shoot a landscape, print it and try to sell the print, regardless of how good or bad the photo is, and whether you actually receive money for selling it, you are not a fauxtographer because you are selling a finished product, not performing a service, poorly.

    Good photography or bad photography does not make you a professional.  The business does.  There are photographers that shoot for themselves with no intention of selling photos or services, that are none-the-less among the best photographers in the world.  There are other photographers, as we have seen here, that while strictly speaking are professional, they also range from not very good to just plain terrible.


    Hi Ab,

    There is a difference, as camerclicker has explained, in being a good photographer and being a good business person. There are mediocre photographers who do well running a successful business and conversely there are incredible shooters who, unlike a large pizza, cannot feed a family of four because they are unable/unwilling to run a successful business.

    But since you seem to be asking about the actual photography aspect:

    …at what point do people go for the big leap from being just a person with a camera who can take good photos, to a professional?

    Consider this:

    “An amatuer practices until they get it right … a professional practices until they never get it wrong”

    It is my opinion that those who CAN take a nice shot but can’t repeat it consistently, in any imaginable circumstance, who doesn’t know their gear inside and out (and this includes lighting) and how to use it properly (meaning good technique as well and not shooting green box constantly), and who go out and buy a Rebel with a kit lens, aren’t ready to be professional photographers.


    “Consistency of well-above-average performance” is certainly tantamount to defining a professional ANYTHING.

    Many many pro photogs are exceptionally good at their craft. It is interesting however that there are many LICENSED professionals who are consistently BAD at what they do. In this case, the license affords them the inalienable right to be declared a professional <fill in the blank> at which point they decide to stop learning, adapting, practicing, whatever, even though the license is a privilege which can be revoked by the appropriate governing council if they are caught not living up to the standards set.


    I’d consider you to be a photographer to be honest. Even though you are only getting very limited income from it I’m assuming you are doing the second shooter gig as a means to building experience to one day to be able to stand on your own as a tog. You can’t be considered a hobbyist because you are doing a professionals job even if it isn’t paid and you can’t be called a faux because you aren’t selling sub standard services. You are realistic in what you can do and deserve credit for that. If calling yourself a photographer is uncomfortable why not photographer assistant?

    Your family will always see you as more than you necessarily are, after my first semester of med school I was a doctor to them which was pretty crap.


    If you are making some sort of income from doing hired photography gigs, whether you are working for someone as an employee or you have your own business, you are considered a professional. Professional doesn’t always mean quality. Generally they go hand-in-hand, but like the others have said, some people who own a legitimate photography business still absolutely suck at it. When I first started out I was doing some paid shoots though I did not yet have a tax ID or anything, but it didn’t amount to much money. Even though I have a legitimate business now I still shoot for fun as a hobby as well. I don’t make a large portion of my yearly income on photography (I have a full-time job besides) but I am also a professional photographer.

    I guess as long as a professional photographer isn’t trying to make themselves out as more than what they really are (fauxtographers shooting weddings), they are on the right track. You don’t have to do a ton of photography work to be a professional.

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