So, you like taking pictures. Does that make you a "real" photographer?
Not really. You might be a "shutterbug" but not necessarily a "photographer."
If somebody buys a "really good" camera. What about then?
Nope. You might be a "camera jockey" but still not a photographer.
What if you have your own darkroom and develop your own film and make your own prints?
Maybe... Getting closer. But some famous photographers don't develop a lot of their own. They can just as easily send it to a lab or have their assistant do it. You could still be just a hobbyist even if you had the biggest darkroom in the world. You'd just have to be a rich hobbyist.
What if you sell a picture for money?
Now, we're getting somewhere but still not all the way, if you ask me. What if you took the only existing photo of some important event? Abe Zapruder shot the only known film of JFK's assassination but that doesn't make him a filmmaker. Even if ABC News paid him $1,000,000 for the rights to that film it doesn't make him the next Speilberg.
I have three things that I think make you a "real photographer" not just a "shutterbug" a "camera jockey" or a "hobbyist."
Reason #1: People stop asking you why you only shoot black and white and simply say, "That's a nice photo."
Reason #2: You make a photo that it good enough for you to actually frame it and hang it on the wall in your own house.
Reason #3: (This is the biggie.)
Somebody else hangs one of your photos one of your photos on the wall in their house.
I just made all three. People stopped bitching about black and white. I have my own photo gallery on the wall going up the stairs. And, just last week, the third person I gave a photo to hung it on the wall.
Hey! Now I am a real photographer!
Yay for me!
Now, if I sell one, can I be a "professional" photographer?