Amateur Vs pro

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by JamesDean, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. JamesDean

    JamesDean Member

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    Hi all,

    I am, as my photographs will testify, an amateur photographer. I'm based in London and since my weapon of choice is a 8x10 Deardorff, most of my subjects are things that stand still; architecture and landscapes. A frustrating amount of land in London is open to the public, but actually owned by private holding companies. For the most part these locations allow amateur photography, but not commercial photography. Whilst the tripod and dark cloth attract the attention of security guards, I can normally convince them of my amateur nature.

    Whilst daydreaming earlier toady, I imagined some day selling one of my prints. I could also fly in the day dream, but that's not relevant here. If I where to sell one, would it irrevocably change my status to pro? Is selling a print as art commercial photography? It's wouldn't be a commissioned piece and it wouldn't be for use in advertising.

    This is mostly of academic interest since learning to fly without mechanical help is looking more likely than ever selling a print...

    J.
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Many amateurs sell photos, still doesn't make them pros. Don't worry about looseng your amateur status just yet.
     
  3. Sim2

    Sim2 Subscriber

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    If you supply mounts or frames for pictures, these could be charged at a "high" rate with a free enclosed photo - then you could be a professinal mounter rather than a professional photographer! :D

    Slightly more seriously, what is the definition of professional? It is possible to call oneself a professional photographer without selling a single thing (won't last long, but), some associations regard professionals as those earning the majority of their income from selling pictures, the taxman might think one picture sold is entitlement to professional. Not sure of the definitive answer really.

    A pragmatic approach might be; how many photos will be sold? which buildings are being sold? Would the owners of the buildings pursue someone for selling a private ues print of their building (providing it is not deemed derogatory to the building)? The National Trust can be quite strict but others?? Selling for advertising use or editorial (in magazines) might change the game though.

    Not much help, but just some thoughts.

    Sim2.
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I always thought that if you get 50% or more of your photography in income the you are a pro.

    Jeff
     
  5. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    A church bake sale does not make one a professional baker and selling a few prints in the same manner does not make you a pro photographer. Spending $100 on the Canon Professional Photographer hat, strap and "out of warranty discount repair" programme perhaps does allow one to qualify, perhaps... :laugh:
     
  6. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    It's probably more important to guards and the business what you are going to do with the photograph rather than your status. If you are going to (or intend to) sell the photograph for gain, it's one thing but if you are going to just keep it in your album or display in your own home (or that of close friends), it's another.

    Theoretically, you could be a professional wedding photographer but you could be shooting landscape for personal enjoyment. On slightly different situation, you could be an amateur photographer but if you are at a wedding being paid some money for the first time in your life to shoot the wedding, then for the business involved, you are a "pro".

    In US, for tax purposes anyway, "a business" is defined as what you intend to do not what you actually do. You are a business even if you sell nothing or make no money if your intent is to sell and make money. There is no definition of Pro, other than some organizations require you get your majority of income from photography for membership purposes. Technically, anyone can be a "pro" since there is no licensing involved.

    If you are thinking of eventually selling your photos or if you are dreaming about selling your photos, but you have no immediate plan or don't plan to do so any time soon, then I wouldn't really worry about it at the time of shooting. Either way, since you are not getting an official release or permission in writing from the land owner, if he/she had a problem with an image of their property being sold, they'll fight you in court anyway, regardless of what the guard has said.
     
  7. segedi

    segedi Member

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    As mentioned a pro needs to derive a majority of income from photography. It also helps to have some marketing and such. But I have a web site (design is my profession) with the intent of going pro. I have sold photos and been in some small gallery shows, but this still doesn't make me a pro. I also would be hardpressed to call someone who was jobless but sold one photo a pro even if 100% of their income was derived from photography!

    I have seen some professional work that has been far inferior to some amateur work; so success as a pro is more often associated with marketing than skill unfortunately.

    A lot of people seeing me with a camera (or two) will ask, are you a photographer? And my response is most often, I'm trying to be. It's honest and even if I was a pro the response would still apply. I consider myself a student of photography and always seek more knowledge and practice.
     
  8. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Here in the U.S. I believe the status of Professional versus Amateur is decided by our Internal Revenue Service. If more than 50% of your income is from photography then you are a Professional.

    You don't have to be good to be a Professional. Just make money.
     
  9. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Segedi, are you any good with HTML? I have a site that needs a little upgrade.

    I rend to agree with the majority of the posts. Being a "pro" is more subjective than factual. I to have seen supposedly professional work that is substandard wereas ameture work that was professional. The true definition of ameture is someone who is passionate about that subject so you decide.
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Back in the early 70's, i went to work for Olan Mills Inc. a professional portrait company. After a couple weeks of training and serving 30 days probationary , I recieved a certificate from PPoA stating, if fact, I was a "professional photographer". Heck, they even sent me a monthly magazine to remind me.
    Am i still a pro photog? No, I refuse to be called that. I am a very happy advanced nooby after all these years.
     
  11. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Just checked out segedis sight WOW!!!
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Based on your screen name, I'd suggest telling them you are an actor.:wink:

    I'd also suggest calling up one of the private holding companies and asking them what they mean. It may be that the fact you don't have either a location, business licence or a commercial presence (website, etc.) would be enough.
     
  13. Joe O'Brien

    Joe O'Brien Member

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    I think there are really only teachers and students of photography. At some points you are teaching others (directly or indirectly), and at other times you are learning from others. With my relative inexperience I happily spend the majority of my time on this site on the learning side :D
     
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  15. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I would think a pro to be one who derives their livelihood from a pursuit. An amateur would be one who strives but it a side thing. There is a third category into which many, including myself, would fall into. I am a hobbyist. I photograph for myself. I do not actively seek to sell a print. I just do it for me and me alone. At this point, anyway. Though I have no aspirations of yet.
     
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    How about this?

    PRO: Expense spent on gears < Income generated from said gears
    Amateur: Expense spent on gears > Income generated from said gears

    APUGer: Expense spent on gears >> Income generated from said gears
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    So if you only earn 49% of your income from photography, do you not pay tax on it?

    I would have thought that all they really want to know is how much you earn in a year regardless.

    What about someone who earns money in equal measures from four different jobs. By your definition he could not be considered professional in any of them!

    It is possible to be a professional and make a net loss for the year (and I'm sure you mean gear rather than gears).


    Steve.
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I think that if photography is the primary source of income, and keeps food in your belly and a roof over your head, then you are a professional. Most are not lucky enough to be professionals taking pictures of whatever they want, but rather by taking pictures to meet the needs of others.

    It has nothing to do with the commercial or art designations; both types of photography can provide a living. I also don't think it has much to do with quality. Most "professional" photographers I know are not what I would actually call "good" photographers. They are good at business, good with people, and ambitious.
     
  19. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Steve;

    "So if you only earn 49% of your income from photography, do you not pay tax on it?"

    Of course you do.

    "I would have thought that all they really want to know is how much you earn in a year regardless."

    On one hand, that is all they want to know. On the other if you are claiming expenses as a Professional you need to be profitable. And while they allow for a bad year you cannot have too many bad years before they question your status as Professional.

    If your income from photography is 49% then 51% is coming from somewhere else and that is where you may be a Professional.

    "What about someone who earns money in equal measures from four different jobs. By your definition he could not be considered professional in any of them!"

    True. He is the Jack of all trades and Master of none.
     
  20. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

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    To Answer your question, selling a print will not make you a professional photographer in fact you could sell lots and a professional you would not be, and as you are located in the UK the chance of ever selling enough prints to make a living is as near to zero as possible .
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    But you can be a master of more than one thing.

    Anyway, the word professional in front of photographer doesn't change it in any legal way or require any qualifications so it's just a word. So why would the tax office care if you used that word or not?


    Steve.
     
  22. panchro-press

    panchro-press Member

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    Years ago, more than forty, I was given the only difference between a professional and amateur photographer.
    The amateur makes an exposure and says, 'I hope this comes out!'
    The professional says, 'This damn well better come out!

    -30-
     
  23. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Commercial photography in private places might not be allowed in certain places. Who you are, as said, is irrelevant. Relevant is either that you are taking a picture susceptible of commercial use (tripod, large format) or, more in general, the use of that picture.

    If you sell prints as "fine art", not in series, that's not considered in most countries commercial use, even if you sold them at $5000 each.

    "Commercial" has two common definitions: the broad one, "selling for publication", and the narrowest one, "selling for advertisement".

    So the entity owning the place where you open your tripod might object about having somebody making pictures destined to illustration of textbooks, postcards, calendars, guide books, magazines, that stuff. People is generally happy if their property ends up in a magazine, guide book etc. But you can have the case where said entity wants to sell postcards, calendars etc. and have an exclusive on it. Disneyworld wouldn't like you to open your tripod in their premises, not even for postcards. An Hotel would probably not object to any use of this kind.

    More likely, the entity wants to restrict "commercial" use as in "use for advertising something". That's because it might appear that the entity is somehow endorsing the product, and you can be sure that any entity will either not endorse a product, or want money in exchange for the endorsing.

    In any case, your "status" as a photographer doesn't mean a fig to them. The entity typically looks at your camera. If it looks "professional" i.e. if it is big, think a big digital and if you use a tripod then they will stop you. If you use a digital point & shoot, they will not. That means you have to use a film camera, with high ISO film is necessary, hand-held, and you will get professional-quality results without being bothered by anybody :smile:

    Fabrizio
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2011
  24. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    Amateurs worry about equipment and megapixels. Intermediates worry about lighting and composition. Professionals worry about someone answering their cellphone in the darkroom. :laugh:
     
  25. segedi

    segedi Member

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    Thanks! My site is still in progress but I like it so far. And I learned HTML more than 10 years ago and have even taught classes in it so I do know a bit :smile:
     
  26. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    So that is all HTML? No flash? And you built it from scratch? Nice ... I would be so lost trying to attempt that.

    BTW, I worked at Olan Mills in the 80's and was NOT a professional then, but think I am now. I turn work down based on my personal schedule and am not taking any clients this summer, so in theory I would call my current state a "starving artist". However, my husband has a really great job, so we are in fact nowhere near "starving".