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I get emails regularly from people asking the same question. What makes you a ‘professional’ photographer and how can I be one? Although the definition of being a professional anything is pretty straightforward, for the one searching for where they fit into the photography world, it can actually feel a pretty abstract concept. As I can see from those many emails, there are many photographers wondering where they fit in.
So to make this clear: you’re a professional at something when it’s your profession. And a profession in the loosest sense of the word is “a vocation or business”. Although in the photographic world, the word profession may have a more strict definition and that’s open for debate. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as, say, being a doctor or a therapist or even a farmer. Because photography is unique in that it is a hobby or passion which can turn into a very nice business. For some, it’s part-time, for others full-time. When do you cross that line from hobbyist to professional?
A few things that DON’T make you a professional:
So what do I tell those people who email me? When people love what you do and recognise you as a ‘photographer’, when you make any amount of money or business out of photography, then you are a ‘professional’.
What would you tell someone asking you the question: “what make a photographer a ‘professional’?”