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Thread: Amateur Vs pro

  1. #1

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    Amateur Vs pro

    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. #2
    Rick A's Avatar
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    Many amateurs sell photos, still doesn't make them pros. Don't worry about looseng your amateur status just yet.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

  3. #3

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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!

    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. #4

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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. #5
    hpulley's Avatar
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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...
    Harry Pulley - Visit the BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE FORUM

    Happiness is...

  6. #6

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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.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  7. #7
    segedi's Avatar
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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.
    -----------------------

    Segedi.com

  8. #8
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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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.
    Bruce Osgood
    Everyone dies, so try and live a little first
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/camclicker/

  9. #9
    guitstik's Avatar
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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.
    Thy heart -- thy heart! -- I wake and sigh,
    And sleep to dream till day
    Of the truth that gold can never buy
    Of the bawbles that it may.

    www.silverhalidephotography.com

  10. #10
    Rick A's Avatar
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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.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

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