What makes a professional photographer, well, professional?
There are many photographers out there who are labeling themselves as Professional Photographers. Does this mean that they take much better quality images than the Amateur Photographers? Come to think about it, what is it that makes a Photographer Professional in the first place? Do they have to earn a Professional Qualification like a Lawyers or Physicians? Do they have to work their way up the Photographic Skills ladder like in a corporate environment?
The truth is that there is no recognised body to regulate those who can claim themselves to be Professional or not in most countries. In fact, in some countries, any Tom, Dick or Harry can claim to be a Professional just because they had just purchased an SLR camera, regardless whether they have any prior knowledge whatsoever in photography at all. It’s really up to the integrity of the individual to label themselves without misguiding their potential clients about quality of their skills or services.
Technically speaking, the status of being a Professional has nothing to do with the skill level of the photographer. Instead, it’s actually denoting that the particular Photographer is earning a living by selling his or her photographic services, or products from photographic works. Some will go as far as to limit the status of being a Professional only to those who do this full-time, which means the weekend freelancer (who’s day job is anything other than taking photos) can’t call themselves Professional at all.
It is a well-known fact that there is nothing to indicate that a full-time working Photographer can produce better images than a weekend hobbyist can. An Amateur Photographer doesn’t have to answer to any clients, thus can shoot whatever and whenever he or she chooses. It’s also an established fact, that most clients can’t tell the difference between a good image and a bad one, and will usually tell the hired Photographer to shoot what the client wants, and not what the Photographer think is good for them.
Well, we’ve already mentioned that a Photographer who makes his or her living shooting photos are labeled as Professional Photographers, so ponder on this — You go to a fancy restaurant with your spouse, and this guy walks over to your table with a Polaroid camera strapped around his neck, and asks you if you would like to have an instant photo taken of you and your spouse (for a fee of course)… Now, is that a Professional Photographer?