Amateur or Professional?

Amateur or Professional?


Want to do some interesting reading? Do a Google search: “should amateur photographers charge a fee?” There is obviously a lot of expertise around the English speaking world on this topic – Google returned “about 2,760,000 results.”

Some of those results are so naive they are absolutely funny. For example: “I have a digital camera which takes pretty good pictures…” and “Call a photographer in town and see what they say for advice on how much $$$…” and a classic “You won’t incur (in) any expenses by using your digital camera.”

As a professional with more than 20 years experience there are several things I have learned over that time. In order of the above statements I would respond with the following:

• Cameras don’t take the picture, it is the person standing behind it,
• Yes, I’m certain every professional photographer in town would be delighted to tell you how to establish a fee over the telephone; and
• What a wonderful day it will be when we can get our equipment and learn our skills for free.

This question of “how much do I charge” often revolves around the topic of weddings. The interesting point remains that one of the most difficult and high pressure disciplines of the entire practice of photography is … wedding photography. It is a one shot deal – bad pun intended.


  © Can Stock Photo

Is this the work of an amateur?

I know many photographers, myself included, that have tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and the knowledge to use it, know what we would have to charge to cover overhead costs even if we were doing it for free by not charging a creative fee, and know precisely what we pay in equipment costs every year; but, we wouldn’t touch a wedding job with a ten-foot barge pole. Simply put, it is not within our skill set. Wedding photography is very specialized.

What I really don’t understand is why folks would either ask, or offer, to photograph a friend’s wedding. Don’t they understand that by working at their friends weddings they will not enjoy the ceremony or festivities that follow the ceremony?

What happens when that well intended gesture goes south? Not only are you going to feel bad, your friend won’t have any pictures, and you run the risk of even losing a friendship from your well intended offering.

Equally as bad, or even worse, what happens when a guest catches a toe in the strap of your camera bag, trips and falls and suffers a personal injury? You will no longer be considered a friend of the bride, but the wedding photographer who is ripe for a lawsuit.

Another most likely scenario is that you decide to change lenses to capture that key moment; let’s say signing of the registry. In your haste to be ready you drop a lens, a lens you purchased just three months ago that cost $950. You want to cry as you look at it lying in pieces at your feet. Is your bride-friend going to pay for a replacement? Probably not. And because you are an amateur you most likely don’t have all-peril equipment insurance that would offset the replacement cost.

Before offering your services it is paramount a review of the costs and liabilities that will be absorbed. There is a multitude of what if scenarios that has to be explored. Beyond the cost of equipment, beyond the cost of liability insurance and even beyond the cost of losing a potential friend, there are also questions regarding taxation and industry ethics.

After reading all the above arguments suggesting why you should charge a nominal fee for your services you will have then entered another scenario. In most countries this fee will be considered income, and will be taxed accordingly. Should you decide to not report the income another topic enters the discussion. I suspect tax avoidance would not only come with potential legal consequences, but at its most basic form it raises questions of ethics.

Professional photographers contribute to the local economy. They hire local students (most often aspiring photographers who desire to learn the profession before hanging out their own shingle), they pay various taxes, they pay studio rent, they pay insurance to local brokers, and a host of other expenses that most often support local service industries and overall economy. If enough weekend Rebels (they all shoot with Rebel’s, don’t they?) start shooting weddings for free that professional photographer will eventually have to close shop and the community loses the local jobs and economic spin-off the professional photographer supported.


© Can Stock Photo

Professional wedding photographers today often bring a reportage style as opposed to the traditional and formal approach.

As I mention, I do not photograph weddings as I do not feel qualified. I also strongly believe that each of us has a moral obligation to ensure we do not undermine the capacity of our neighbour to earn a living, regardless of occupation.

Before you agree to photograph that friend’s wedding, be honest with yourself, your friend, your neighbour and your community.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Dale Wilson is a freelance photographer based out of Halifax, Canada. He has been a regular staff writer for a variety of Canadian photo magazines for 18 years. Wilson has also published or co-published four books and was the photo-editor on the Canadian best selling Canada’s National Parks – A Celebration. His practice concentrates on commercial work and shooting natural history images for four stock agencies. After a 10 year hiatus Wilson will once again be offering eastern Canadian workshops with his teaching partner Garry Black.'

Some Older Comments

  • patrick dinneen March 22, 2013 01:06 am

    Come on alg, let's leave the sleeping dog lie....

  • ALG March 21, 2013 11:53 pm

    If You DO NOT eat your bread out of photography, pay your mortgage, rent, and everything else out of photography alone, you are not a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER.

    That said...STOP offering to photograph other people for free, or for too little. You need to calculate your cost of doing this; charging tiny amounts that will not even buy you a new lens only proves how DUMB YOU ARE.

    Read this article at least 10 times:

  • Jore Puusa January 18, 2013 04:06 pm

    Only an american could write all that.
    Part time witch is an inside joke know inside a limited bunch of people.
    Me against humanity cause I stand for morality and honesty ---as I said, only an ignorant american could....etc.
    Over and out. Totally.

  • Vestal January 18, 2013 02:58 pm

    @Jore, you have stated that people who don't use their own name on forums such as this are more rude or petty than they would be if they had used their own name.

    My question above is neither rude or petty, only a direct question to you for you to support your attacks against part time photographers when you will happily take money from a part time witch to further your own financial gains.

    Also, as to the rudeness or pettyness of people who don't use their full names, you have proven to contradict your own belief in this forum and others.

    I think it is great that you have experienced what you have in your life, unfortunately something has happened in your past that has seemingly turned you against humanity in general. I do believe that you have much to offer but your public demeanor automatically shuts people down to any advice you may wish to give.

  • Jore Puusa January 18, 2013 05:59 am

    I´ll answer when You have guts enough to use Your own name when commenting.

  • Vestal January 17, 2013 11:57 pm

    Jore, I notice on your site that you have photo labeled as "Medicin woman and part time witch". The question I have is, did you berate and belittle her for being a "part time" witch and possibly taking livelyhood away from someone else before or after you took her money for the photographs?

  • Patrick Dinneen January 3, 2013 02:50 am

    To add fuel to this fire-

  • Janus December 27, 2012 02:58 am

    At any time, I did not say that amateurs ro hobbyist dont have the right to became professionals, to get in the business. They have the right.
    Im not sure, is it my writings, or the language or what, that I seem to get misunderstood. So I try to explain my point more clearly.
    I think its wrong from ama/hob to take photographing jobs/gigs for lower price or for free. Usually in this type of jobs there isnt taxes paid, no insurances and also usually the quality of the work is poor. It also makes harder for the professionals to compete with these ama/hobs because they cannot afford to lower their prices because their life depents on the money paid for that work. This isnt fair competition, not even in the "laws of free market". Its usually ILLEGAL and there for wrong in every way.

    If the ama/hobs dont yet have enough amount of talent to do the work and charge reasonable, they dont belong in the business and in the market YET. They arent photographers yet and they should not do the job. That doesnt mean, they dont have the right to practise photographing or that they dont have the right to get there eventually.

    If they are great photographers. And they want to get professionals, then I think they should DO IT! Start a business and become professional photographers who live on by the money from their photographing business.

    It doesnt matter where the skills come from, from school or from practising at home. Sure you can be a self educated pro. There are great ones in the business whole time, always has been and always will.

    There are so many people who thinks that getting in the photographing without education means that you have to get in the business right away and learn in the process.
    You can work your skills elsewhere, leave the business for the professionals and when you are equal with your skills, then get in the business and charge fairly from your work. If you cant make it then, then you dont got what it takes. Some people graduate from school and dont ever get in the business.

    Go shoot kids soccer games, thats great practising, you can get close to the game and get great actions shots. Take portraits from your husband or wife to practise portraiture, or pets or your lovely childrens. Get in the streets and shoot candids. Shoot childrens birthday parties, believe me, if you cant get the essence and joy and love from kids birthday parties, you dont get it from the weddings either and therefore not ready for the market yet.
    And then, when youre ready to get in business, get in the business. But you have to get there with your skills, not with just a fancy camera another fulltime job and your trick to get clients is based on low prices. Because this does bad for the whole industry, another professionals and eventually on you too, your family gets pissed because you dont have time for them and you burn yourself.
    Okay, maybe its okay to do a few jobs, but only few to get something to your portfolio. Agree with the couple that you do this wedding for a bit lower price, but theres a few image that you need to get for your website. Then put your price to a general level. Off course everyone gona keep their fulltime job as a safety web for a little while, put in some point you have to take the leap and there is a risk involved that you just have to take.


    And for a side point. I know that everything isnt black and white or so simple as I stated. I know that putting on a business isnt that simple.

    I also have a dream to become a professional photographer in some day. I know that its a hard job and its not just taking fancy images. I believe actually that I have the skills for it, im self-educated in photographing. I also did wrong choices in youth and dont have the opportunity to go to school. I have another fulltime job, I also have a family and I´m the only one bringing food at the table at the moment. I also cannot take the risk and quit my job and start a photographing business. Therefore I dont do it at the moment. at any level, I dont shoot weddings, I dont try to sell my images to anywhere. But im practising still, everyday. Reading constantly, shooting constantly, going to events and talking to pros and sucking knowledge the whole time. Im just not in for the business at the moment, so I stay away from it.

  • Jore Puusa December 24, 2012 01:52 am

    I have two questions for Becky.

    1. Do You have a regular daytime job and salary?
    2. Where in the www we may see Your semiprofessional pictures?

  • Becky December 23, 2012 11:22 pm

    I appreicate your comments Janus. However. I know many students who have jobs that are completely unrelated to their degree (doctors would not) my friend is currently studying to be a teacher and when she is not on placement in a school she works in the retail industry around her course.

    I will give a little bit of my story away and if you can suggest to me a better way forward, than for me to keep working full time and working part time as a photographer. I never had the opportunity to go to university to study anything, let alone photography. I have there for spent the last 15 years teaching myself by reading, attending short courses whenever I could afford to. I have invested in equipment working my way up from entry level and second hand gear. So does this mean I am not allowed to turn professional? I pay taxes not only on any work I undertake as a professional but also in my other line of work? I have tried previously to work with other photographers but not many of them can pay for a full time assistant. My husband and I can not afford for me to just give up my work and get a loan and take a risk. We have already done that with my husbands business (none photography business) and although this has worked for him we couldn't put ourselves in that financial position with two young children. I spent along time researching other photographers prices locally (not by calling them just be viewing their websites no trickery involved) and although I do charge slightly cheaper than they do, I believe that is due to the packages I offer (time spent at the weddings or the extras I include with packages). I also describe myself as a semi professional (which is a term I dislike as I believe I offer a professional service but as it is not my full time occupation). I take pride in my work, consider the details, the after work, the meetings with the clients, the insurances.

    As for the price of peoples weddings, not everything is so black and white. There are always grey areas. I recently took some photos for a couple who moved their wedding date forward by a year as the brides mother was close to the end of her life. Yes I did reduce the price i charged, but by reducing the work I did (i.e the time I spent with them not the quality of my work). It was a very emotional time for them and some of the celebrations were by the brides mothers hospital bed. To me that is showing compassion, caring for others and maybe it does undermine what a 'professional' would do. Personally I don't think it does and if that is what a professional is, then it isn't the amateur trying to build their portfolio that is undermining the work of a photographer but the professionals.

    As for wanting to steal the jobs? People in all walks of life move from profession to profession. Some because they realise they have made the wrong choices with the work that they do, some because they themselves change or their interests change and they see a different path that their lives can take. Not everyone at a young age knows the career they wish to embark on, not everyone makes the right choices to start with. Maybe if I had known when i was 16-18 how much photography means to me (on many levels) I would have tried to get into the industry as an apprentice or something, but university was NEVER going to be an option for me, therefore am I not allowed to try once I realise my mistake? Has my dedication to learning the art around being a full time mother who has to work to help support her family been wasted? I wish truly that I could have studied at university gone straight into the profession, maybe then I would be on your side of the fence, but I hope not. I hope at least I would always see that there is always room for people to start up, for different pricing to exist (this happens in my husbands line of work as a plumber, people charge all different rates it is for the customer to decided who they commission). After all it is for the customers to have the freedom to choose who they hire and for the reasons they have and this maybe lack of money, not caring about the finished product who knows we are not them.

    Life is competitive, unfair but it is also for everyone to live and to try and make their way in the world. Not everyone has a smooth ride, not everyone knows what they want, who they are when crucial life decisions have to be made.

    I still feel as a professional if you do not like these sites you shouldn't use them, some of them are only here to verbally attack others (and yes this includes some amateurs) and that is sad and it i the sort of thing that hurts photography at all levels.

  • Janus December 22, 2012 09:50 am

    By looking this thread, I have to agree with you Puusa, and not just this, but others aswell. The most common message coming through, is usually just that shitty things happens get on with it. Off course shitty things happen and keeps happening if people are just going on saying "its a tough world, deal with it". Nobody cares and nobody does anything, everyone is one their own.
    Not long ago, we came down from the trees and developed a civilisation and society, now we are taking back the laws of the jungle.
    And since we now have this thing called internet, where we could discuss about this kind of issues, instead we are just fighting against each others and about who gets the last word.
    Its sad, makes me really sad.

  • Jore Puusa December 22, 2012 09:16 am

    This all is about stealing, when one has the opportunity.
    Or this is all about bad moral, not caring of other people´s feelings.
    This is all very simple.

    1. There are professional photographer´s who have only this job, who have invested on gear and who have gone to schools. They have responsibility about the pictures they take. They pay tax and take the risk.

    2. Then there are amateur photographers who have their everyday jobs, but that is not enough for them, they want to steal others jobs as well. They take something which sometimes look like pictures but they do it for free.
    People want to have free lunches, but there are no such thing.

    3. What follows is the death of professional photography because of greedy amateur photographers who cannot see what they accomplish cause modern man does not care anymore.

  • Janus December 22, 2012 08:11 am

    btw. I know I may sound kind attacking, Im trying to keep the discussion in general-level. There is also the language barrier and I try to keep my opinions simple. When im saying you this and you that, I dont mean you Becky, dont take it personally.

    Happy holidays to everyone :)

  • Janus December 22, 2012 08:03 am

    @becky Yes, the students usually have a part-time jobs. And the jobs usually have something to do with the career they are studying for. I dont know any medical student, who is cutting hair at home for 5€/per cut. And sure, you can have a part-time job, even you can do photographing for part-time job. This is the thing that I mean, having a job, where you get decent amount of payment, you pay your taxes and insurances and you live by that salary.
    At any point, I didnt say that its not okay for hobbyist or amateurs to photograph. What I meant is, that be fair in it, compete with other photographers by talent, not by fee. Dont do it for free, just because you can, because there is someone who would do it also, but cannot do it for free and he/she cannot compete with you because they dont have a choice to lower their prices.

    Why is it that there are some ‘professionals’ on this site that hate it so much? There is NO difference between the articles, advice etc on this site than in books or taught at college/university etc.

    Read more:

    Because these are the people whose lives and jobs are affected. You see the difference? These are the workers who are in the industry and seeing their jobs changed because amateurs are stepping in with low prices or for free. This is the main point! These people know it, because they see it and live it every day. Listen to them, listen what they have to say and take it under consideration when you are shooting for free.

    If the discussion would be healthy enough, Im sure that these professionals would bring different options to the table so that nobody wouldnt get hurt. Im sure that there would be different ways for hobbyist to get in the market than just getting there and start shooting for free and building the way up. But way I see it, first the pros get into the discussion and say that dont do it for free, youre hurting my business and doing harm for the whole industry, then all the hobbyist and amateurs tackle him by going on like its name of game, cant compete then walk away, free market-system etc-etc....
    I bet that these pros arent afraid of competition, when its possible and fair for them to compete with you.

    Many people getting married cant afford to hire a pro to take pictures, but they have enough money to invite 50-100 guests at their wedding, all the guests leave with their stomaches full of food, head full of alcohol and the couple stays the night at hotel and flies next week to spain for their honeymoon.
    Also many couples decides to get married in the next 6-12months, off course you dont have enough time to raise money. These couples are planning to spend rest of their lives together, 40-60 years, but they cannot wait for a year to raise enough money to spend their weddings.
    Then there is also people who really cannot afford to hire a photographer, like my mom and dad. Want to hear about their wedding, they got married in the city administrative court, there where 7 guests there, 2 was witnesses, at the after party were about 20 guests and they ate something and drank homemade wine.

  • Becky December 22, 2012 03:38 am

    Why is it that there are some 'professionals' on this site that hate it so much? There is NO difference between the articles, advice etc on this site than in books or taught at college/university etc.

    Also, are you (@Janus) telling me that students at University do not have part time jobs? I can assure you that most of them do. How very dare they! I mean they are taking away jobs from other people! Outrageous! As for taking a loan and jumping into the business and leaving my job. That is just about the WORST advice you can give anyone. You have NO idea what a persons financial situation is (or obligations) and especially in the UK it isn't that easy at the moment to just get a loan!

    I also disagree that someone is a cheap photographer they are always a cheap photographer, although I am sure there are some people that are, the majority will increase their prices, I know I have.

    Also, I see a few comments attacking the customer for not paying for the most expensive photographer. That isn't very professional! Also does that mean if someone can not afford a massive lavish wedding that they shouldn't have stunning and wonderful photos of their special day however low key/budget it maybe?

  • Patrick Dinneen December 22, 2012 12:52 am

    I'm just going to reply this one more time and then bow out because this easily degenerates into a ping-pong back and forth.
    this is a topic people will never agree on but it's interesting to read the different views.
    "Once a cheap photographer, always cheap photographer". I wouldn't agree with this.Our wedding photographer (6 years ago) wasn't long in the business so her price was very reasonable. Now that she's more established her fees are over double and she's still very busy.

    Why would somebody jump into the deep end if thinking of becoming a pro? Why not be a bit safer- do it as sidework/moonlighting until you're ready to make the plunge. Of course I pay taxes on any photo jobs I get. There's nothing wrong or illegeal to working very part-time as a photographer.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with 'draging other careers into the discussion. I was just making a comparision. I could compare to many careers- music artists when starting play gigs for free/v. cheap to gain exposure & confidence too.
    There aren't too many pros that take on amateurs for internships so how is one to start off, gain experience?

    Every amateur also has to realise that there's SO much more to being a pro than taking photos- marketing, hiring staff maybe, admin, insurance etc.

    If amateurs were as bad as many people here suggest (without seeing their work I may add) surely word of mouth about horror stories would spread and people would be slow to go down that road?

    A colleague of mine got married, they said the photos weren't a massive thing to them but they'd like some memories. Why should they pay €1000+, they were happy to pay far less while being very aware of the risks. They were extremely happy with the photos btw.

    Yes, it is taking jobs from pros but it's a fact that pros have to accept. But it doesn't happen that much, there's always going to be a market for professional wedding photographers. But yes, I'd be slightly annoyed too if I was a pro
    In the Irish taxi market licenses are now very cheap so a lot of people have licenses and only work weekends, when it's very busy. It sucks for full time taxi drivers but there's nothing they can do about it.
    "Nothing is achieved by worrying or giving out about something. Accept it and look forward!

    Anyway Happy Christmas to all!

  • Janus December 21, 2012 09:10 pm

    And if you´re a really good photographer, want to get in the business and you believe in your talent. Then go for it. Quit your daily job and start a business, take a loan from the bank and take the risk, its the same risk that every pro´s has done, get in the same line than the local pro and start competing fairly. Having a another fulltime job, from where the daily income is coming, having a salary every month, then doing weekend or afternoon jobs for low price and usually without paying taxes or anything and just go by saying that its the name of the game, or that if a pro cant compete with value its just a fair competition, its not.
    Also one sidenote, this is a photography site, with photographers discussion about their lives and jobs and hobbies, dont drag another careers into the discussion and say its happening on another markets too. I dont think that nobody is talking on fishing or baking sites about how photographers are doing.

  • Janus December 21, 2012 08:02 pm

    1. Want to be a true friend, get together with all the other friends and raise a small sum to hire a professional. Dont be working at your friends wedding, no friend is taking care the catering either.
    Or go around some of the professionals websites and portfolios and explain it with examples why they would be a better choice. But if you´re so good that your photography matchs with the local professionals, then I think its fine. If you want to work at your best friends wedding and do work without payment, then do it. I dont think that its the point in this discussion, I dont believe that any pro in this discussion is talking about that about once in 2-3 year you help some dear person to you out. Dont do it for a friend of a friend or every cousin and cousins cousins.
    2 True. And we are talking about the small % here, so lets leave the others out of this.
    3. Same answer as above.
    4. That´s true also. Its also usually for charity or raising money for school trips. Usually the towns have about 20.000 people who needs bread every day, so the bakery and shops are doing just fine.

    There´s also one tip I can give to every amateur, who are thinking that doing cheap or free to get your leg in between the door is good. Once a cheap photographer, always cheap photographer. If you get known for doing free or cheap, its pretty hard to try eventually raise your fee, because everyone is coming to you for your cost, not for your images or portfolio.
    I personally did few, I can admit it. I can tell one personal experience. There was this couple that I know who wanted me to shoot their wedding. I asked small amount of money from it. I mean it, really small amount for a whole wedding, portraits, ceremony and after party. I eventually "lost" the gig for another hobbyist that did for free, because I wasn´t willing to lower my fee. So its happening to amateurs already what is happening to the professionals. I stopped it, dont shoot weddings, eventhough I know that I am pretty good. If someone is asking me to shoot their wedding, I say, that if you want me at your wedding, invite me as guest, I would be honored, but I am working 40-50 hours per week so no thanks.

  • Patrick Dinneen December 21, 2012 07:04 pm

    1. Most amateurs don't go looking for weddings. Nomally a friend/colleague asks them to shoot.
    2. It's only an extremely small % of amateurs that shoot weddings.
    3. Most don't have the urge.
    Go to any local fair/market and you'll have a few amatuers selling their products- cupcakes, arts and crafts.
    if someone thinks their skill is good enough they're going to try to sell it.

  • Janus December 21, 2012 06:36 am

    Also other peoples weddings arent the place to learn and get experience.

  • Janus December 21, 2012 03:34 am

    There is one thing, I do not understand. Why do amateurs have to shoot weddings or have to shoot paid commissions in low price or for free. I mean, dont we have anything else to shoot? Why would we have to photograph events and images that could be shoot by a professional photographer who feed his/hers family with that money?
    Why cannot we shoot something else for love and for hobby and get the money we need for living from our fulltime jobs?
    Why do we have a urge to try to sell our photographs or give, to the papers or other media? There are tons of magazines made just for amateurs to participate, why cant we just settle for them?

  • Patrick Dinneen December 20, 2012 01:28 am

    @Alex, where do I start?

    Yes, many professional photographers went to photography school.
    But also many professional photographers learn without going to photography school.
    How do they learn? Through gaining experience I'd imagine. Start off by being photographer no 2 to a paid photographer maybe. Or shoot a friends wedding/event, gain confience & experience, then start charging higher prices.

    You've mentioned a few times that "This site Digital Photography School is one of the worst sites giving away the professional knowledge". There's a wealth of sources for free photography lessons, tips etc. I think this site is one of the BEST sites for giving away photography knowledge.

    Amateurs are not disrespectable of pros I think. If an amateur shoots an event/wedding and just takes snapshots and not content then I don't think they'd get asked again to shoot events. Also why do you presume that an amateur's shots will be just snapshots? Isn't that disrespectable to us? are my 'snapshots' from the 1st wedding I've ever shot.

    Just because someone is an amateur doesn't mean they're uneducated! They learn through experience, photography courses, online (great resources like this), BOOKS etc.

  • Alex December 20, 2012 12:42 am

    @ KEN

    Let me point something to you really quick regarding this client: it IS because someone at some point did something for free (e.g. portfolio crap excuse), that now allowed this client to believe that they can continue to get free work. I get calls like this all the time: "but so and so did it for free"? and I say: "great, then so and so can do it this time too"? why are you calling me? my time is worth MONEY! Go ahead and ask a car mechanic to do something for free because eeeeeeeeeeveryone can change a tire, oil, etc etc, or an accountant because eeeeeeeveryone is capable of doing quick books and so forth. ALL YOU NEED is ONE IDIOT in your company that bought a DSLR to create that "expectation" for that client! That's all you need. I actually KNOW someone without any experience who is now advertising all sorts of photographic genres, and has not yet had a real photo shoot to understand how it works. Not one.

    I am a pro, and I create CONTENT: Content is what my client will use to ADVERTISE their business to make a PROFIT. My client pays $10,000 to advertise in some magazine while the magazine doesn't pay me to provide them with CONTENT because of egotistic idiots who hand over their time and work like SLAVES just so they can SHOW OFF: " look at me, look at me, they printed my picture in a magazine" etc etc etc!
    WORK WITHOUT PAY=SLAVERY! So there, don't blame the client; we pro's have discounts set up like every other business, and photography is a service business, and my relationship with a client is "business to business", and not "business to nobody/uneducated amateur"! Because you are an uneducated amateur if all you know is your shutter speed and nothing else about the profession/business of photography!

  • Alex December 20, 2012 12:30 am

    "I find this conversation a bit bipolar. On the other hand Digital photography school takes part in killing photography as a profession by providing amateurs with information how to do it Yourself– on the other hand there are critical posts like this Dale Wilson`s.
    I am a photojournalist and teacher of photojournalism in Helsinki Finland. Finnish professional photography is rapidly dying cause local pros here give advice in internet for amateurs on how to shoot. Then those same photographers look stunned seeing how those same amateurs give their pictures for free and get pro`s jobs.
    Bipolar really. This site Digital Photography School is one of the worst sites giving away the professional knowledge. I just wonder what we all pros look alike when we have no work anymore. It takes maybe ten years and —puff– no paid commissions. It´s happening here, it´s happening in Sweden, Germany, Europe—and then it happens in USA. Just feel pity for those who are in photography schools and have no future. But maybe pro`s really are a bit stupid and willing to believe that good things to happen only.
    (sorry for my english, it´s my third foreign language)"

    VERY MUCH AGREE WITH THIS POST! To add, Americans ONLY see in Pink, and anything that's not Pink is perceived as negative and pushed and kicked to the side as if it doesn't exist. This website should NOT exist, and if this person running this website has any RESPECT for what is left of photography as a whole, he should shut it down and go teach it at some university. You cannot post so many "how to do it articles", and then turn around and piss that people do it for free. Should I remind you that people USED to buy REAL BOOKS, and study photography? These amateurs who think so high of themselves are very disrespectful for the profession of photography to begin with, and all they care about is their big fat ego's! they have no concept behind what they're doing, and no understanding that professionals create CONTENT and not snapshots! But sadly, this is a side effect of the US type capitalism that no longer believes in having a career versus a job hopping without a purpose. Employers have no respect for employees, and so employees are having extra time to have too many hobbies, because they don't have to focus on an actual career! People also stop having a grasp on the difference between a "profession" and a "hobby" so what do you expect?! there is no work ethic left! People have become stupid and rude, and don't care who they hurt in the process.

    Regarding weddings, well, let's put it this way: IF the couple doesn't give a shit about their own wedding, then why should we? they really get what they deserve for minimizing the job of the ONLY person at that wedding that gives them something that will last forever! the food gets eaten and pooped, the flowers die, the guests leave, and all you're left with is your PHOTOGRAPHS to remember your special day! But then again judging by how "couples" don't care, maybe that day is not that special after all! You know what else? too many people are getting has become too trivial to be special!
    Here's another article on that:

  • Ken December 19, 2012 07:04 am

    OK, I have to admit that I started to 'Fast Forward' through this thread when it began to deteriorate. This may have been covered above, but if not, let me throw this into the works....

    Why are people blaming aspiring shooters for the current state of affairs? Why aren't people pointing a finger at the clients. If a client is shopping on price alone, they will typically get a sub-standard product. Does that mean that all 'cheap' shooters are bad? No, but it's usually the case. Not for lack of effort, but simply due to lack experience. Not everyone is talented enough to pick up a camera and produce stunning results without some knowledge and practice.

    It is the client that has created this situation and it is what it is.

    Ken (Nickname for Kenneth - and I too don't use my last name in forums).

  • Becky December 3, 2012 07:42 pm

    @ Alaina, I mostly agree with you, however, I don't understand (and this isn't you but people like your mentor) why it bothers them so much that if whilst learning and developing a portfolio people charge less or nothing for their work.

    For example, I undertook some free work for my cousin who is trying to set up her own business, I hadn't done very much in the way of commercial photography and she needed to keep costs down. So we came to an agreement, she covered the cost of my petrol, I took the photos, she gave me lunch, I edited (if needed) the photos and gave them to her for her to use on her website. In return, I use these in my portfolio (as I would do with paid customers) and she gives me a little bit of space on her website and will link to mine.

    Was she happy with my service, yes very, was I happy with what I gained yes I was, would she have paid another 'professional' no, she couldn't afford to as a young woman with a new family and the cost of setting up her business on limited funds. Will she pay me next time? Yes. I guess I never do anything for 'free' there is always some sort of 'payment', be it lunch, webspace, cash etc, but it wouldn't be the same price as a 'professional' would charge.

    So do I think I delivered a lower than professional service/photos, no. But hey, who am I to judge my own work, I find it very difficult and I know I am still learning and maybe my technical skills aren't as great as most and maybe I am still not achieving the high standards of photography that 'professionals' have, maybe they would laugh at my work and call it mediocre or 'bad' rather than suggest how I can improve and develop my skills. I am sure they all were born with the skill they have today, they never used automatic in their lives and they never had a little point and click, they were just simply born professional photographers!

    Everyone starts some where, and I am confident person and yes I now shoot weddings, and maybe part of me being able to do that is NOTHING to do with Photography but the fact that I can get up in front of people, and direct them without sounding like a Sargent Major, that I can build a relationship with the happy couple and give them a wonderful album that they love and cherish, but I had to start some where. One of those couples was my 'first' they took me from the work that they had seen and from knowing me and from them I received three other commissions. But maybe all those people wanted was the mediocre photos some 'Professionals' assume someone like me will deliver.

    It is so hard to make the transition and when you feel that other 'professionals' who join sites like this do nothing more than belittle you because you started out as a weekend 'rebel' and after training yourself and learning the only way you can either by part time courses or home study and practice that can be really upsetting. It does seem that they have forgotten that they started some where and maybe they were lucky enough to do their training and studying early on in their life so that their professional carers started much earlier than someone like me, it does make me question why they are on these forums.

  • James December 3, 2012 01:10 pm

    @ Jore. You are absolutely ridiculous. Welcome to the future and enjoy your unemployment. Typing these long winded, "Post using your full name and get off my lawn!" speeches are making you look like a pretentious jerk.

  • Alaina December 3, 2012 02:26 am

    I can't decide if I agree or disagree with this post... I consider myself an amateur photographer who dreams of being a professional someday. I have a professional mentor who has been teaching me for over a year now. I have spent thousands on upgrading my gear. When I started, I admittedly was just one of those "rebels" except I had a Nikon D3100 :) I did free photo shoots because I wanted to learn! Then I met my mentor and he made it clear how he felt about that. So I learned by shooting with models, and when my camera no longer met my standards I upgraded to a professional grade camera. Now I don't make very much as a part time bank teller so I saved. I've worked hard studying and shooting to get where I'm at today. This is what I want to do as my career! But how do I go about making the transition. Yes photos speak to clients, but prices also speak when you technically have never done a wedding. It's a bit daunting trying to get your foot in the door while at the same time not compromising your photography ethics. Even as an amateur I despise when I see people that have no idea what they are doing with no desire to learn the techniques of photography, take money from unsuspecting people and ruin their wedding with terrible photos that they took using the Automatic setting. At the same time though, what makes me different from that person? Eventually I have to take the plunge right? It's so confusing! :)

  • Scott December 2, 2012 11:01 pm;jsessionid=ar1dlf_G6_ddWv042C?id=173498

    Ignore Jore, he is obviously a very miserable person. More links of More doing his best stuff and it's not photography.

  • Lesley December 2, 2012 10:19 pm

    On the contrary Jore, I think this thread has been very useful. It has allowed many people to have their say and we have seen a wide variety of opinions expressed. I don't agree with all any more than most people would, they are so diverse, but everyone has an equal right to express their opinion.
    That said, I had a look around your website. We are of the same generation, though worlds apart. You had the life I would love to have had, but neither opportunity nor location made this possible. It's only now I have the opportunity to explore what I can do with a camera and I am very much enjoying it. I travel, record life in the places I visit and where I live and enjoy my family and my cats. All these live on through my camera.
    I can appreciate the emotions you feel so strongly, but unless you have a specific reason or "thief' in mind, I think you still have plenty of kick left and shouldn't allow yourself to be distracted by them.
    Don't worry about me. I have no intention to steal your livelihood or that of anyone else and have a personal philosophy of recommending people to those I know who would be most suitable for the job / personalities involved.
    Good luck and relax. We haven't that many years left to do so. :-)

  • Jore Puusa December 2, 2012 08:31 pm

    What did we all get about this thread?
    Nothing. We see the two fronts coming closer for final fight and the loser is already known.
    Professional photography will go away cause the attitudes of amateurs who have their main job as backup is that of a thief. If it´s possible to steal, go for it. Take their jobs, their clients, finally their life. And laugh about it.
    This is the morality of today, first me, secondly me and then me.
    All others...blaah who cares as long as I have fun. Terrible future is coming.

  • Libby December 2, 2012 04:06 am

    Even worse are the ones who come on the gear forums on the Friday night before a wedding asking for the Magic Settings because a family member or friend just INSISTED that they shoot the wedding. Nobody can force you to shoot.

    I retired from wedding shooting in 2005. Just didn't like it anymore. After a fractured rib as a result of a giant fat woman who throw a hard jab to get me out of her way during the cake eating shot so she could snap away with her point & shoot, enough was enough. So you'd better make sure you have the health insurance on top of the liability insurance.

  • Christi Nielsen December 1, 2012 03:28 pm

    Woops! Meant to say thank you to Dale. Ugh - typos. :)

  • Christi Nielsen December 1, 2012 03:27 pm

    Thank you, Dave, for trying to bring sanity back to this post. Everyone needs to take a chill pill.

    I enjoyed the article. You're dead on.

    It's a place to start a great discussion. Some folks need to take a breath and remember that you can't cover all the individual scenarios in a blog post.

    The one thing I always try to impress upon amateurs is to NEVER, EVER give work away for free or cheap. You're only training clients to expect your work (and the rest of ours) for free/cheap from then on.

    The best advice I've heard for folks wanting to get into wedding photography is to be a second shooter for a while in order to learn the ropes.

  • Aidan December 1, 2012 12:58 pm

    @jore pussa

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on the idea that gear doesn't make the photographer.

    I choose to "practice" (for lack of a better word) photography because I find it enjoyable, and it is a way for me to express my creativity. It is never my intention to "steal" a job from a professional. That being said, I don't get paid for much of my photography, but when I do, I make sure that i can do the job to the best of my ability. I'm not sure what to say, other than I hope we can all move away from insulting/ rude comments, and discuss the article.

    P.S- Dale wilson, I, and many others, found your "weekend rebel" comment snobbish and insulting. Is there an issue with shooting with rebels on a weekend???

    P.P.S- And believe it or not, my real name is Aidan, I don't use my last name on forums and such for a good reason, as does becky. Please, What I choose to call myself is my buisness, not yours. I am not being cowardly or stupid, it's just my choice.

  • Becky December 1, 2012 07:44 am

    @Jore Puusa, please don't assume I am American, I am not I am English. My name is Becky it isn't a nickname and I have found some of your comments (those aimed at me) rude, however, in my previous post I accepted that writing in a language that is not your first language may be why I miss understood, even though I did also comment that I think you have written very well .

    I do completely agree with you that equipment doesn't make a photographer, a photographer who is skilled, has talent and knows their craft will produce stunning work with different cameras regardless. However, to assume that because someone has chosen not to be a 'professional' photographer does not mean they lack the ability to be so. Someone like myself, as stated before, didn't get the opportunity to study photography at college or university, this doesn't make me any worse or indeed better than someone who did. I can see you have more experience than me, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to start my own Photography business or attempt a career as a photographer.

    I haven't used offensive language that is not who I am, I just choose not to use my own full name for personal reasons in online forums, and I am sorry if that is an issue for you.

  • ArturoMM December 1, 2012 05:15 am

    This post has a lot of responses, I read half of them only, my recomendation: wjgreenall

    In case you don't know how to find him quicly on Internet explorer: type F3 for the search tool.

  • Jore Puusa December 1, 2012 05:08 am

    First I decided not to take part, but I write one more.
    It is not easy to have a conversation with people like nickname becky who says that I´m a "rude person" or with others that tell me to "take my head out of my ass" or I´m a "hater" or that I "write rubbish". Not easy at all. I´m sixty years old and I was brought up a very different way. I see using a nickname as fear to stand behind one´s words and cause I´ve been with internet from the times of arpanet I know for sure that those who use nicks always act the rudest way.
    I really get no attention what I write about moral in industry or what I write about stealing so it´s no use to continue. I thought religious comment could make someone understand, no it did not. We should not take what is that of others if we already have something similar ( like a job) That is greed -in my old mans opinion.
    There are several comments which try to insist that gear means something important, well it does not.
    Photography is about visuals and ability to produce visual things.
    Photography is about thinking and reading and thinking and seeing and keeping ones mouth shut.
    Somebody says that its rubbish when I said that a real pro can manage with ragged body and 50 mm lens.
    For some odd reason Cartier Bresson and hundreds of great yesterdays pros shot most of their pics with that lens and a ragged body. But they were pros cause they could talk about pictures and not about cams.
    I tell just a little about me. I`m sixty years old Finnish photojournalist who went through crisis in 70`s and 80`s in countries where american press could not go like Iran and behind iron curtain and I`ve shot for AP, UPI, Reuters and BlackStar, AFP and EPU. To name a few. I´m the the one who has been shooting for IOPP for three olympic games being Moscow, Los Angeles and Sarajevo. Here is a link to a short video where I run with winner Carl Lewis
    IOPP = International Olympic picture Pool those four who are in the middle field.
    And I´ve been teaching photojournalism in four countries and 20 years in Finland.
    Based on my experience 50 mm is one of the best lenses in the world and if I had to use one cam only I´ll shoot any FX body with a 1,4f 50 mm lens. That covers everything depending how close one can get. Ofcourse one has to use 800mm when shooting soccer but as a common lens one cannot beat that.
    But honestly gear is not something that stops or makes one do great photography, great pictures come from Your brain not from gear. But I´d happily shoot weddings without extra lights and only with my D800 and that 50mm only cause I know how to touch peoples hearts with pics.
    In this thread there are tens of sentences which are just wrong considering professionalphotography and I mean technical or visual insisting, but considering how rude lanquage is used here-- I as an old man go to the shadows.
    Ad becky..there are tens of thousands of beckys in USA, if You used Your own whole name You`d never used that kind of lanquage You use here..becky is just becky is just another becky. We must be strong in what we represent even if it caused troubles.

  • jake December 1, 2012 03:31 am

    I am a 'serious' amateur having invested decades in learning my craft and more $$ than I probably should have. I often get asked by relatives & friends to shoot a wedding, christening, bar mitzvah, etc for them. My answer is always the same. I will gladly shoot it PROVIDED they have hired a professional photographer. I tell them I will only shoot candids and will not get in the way of the pro. More often than not after I get them the prints (they only see the ones I select) I get the "oh yours are better than the ones we paid for". Could be, but I have the luxury of waiting for the shots I want, not what a pro is expected to produce. The pressure is off of me and I really do enjoy giving them some nice images.

  • Darren Lightfoot December 1, 2012 02:37 am

    I am surprised and somewhat disappointed how this discussion has turned into being more about making assaults on the character of those making post....including the author...than the original post. No matter what the topic, especially those that are heart felt like this one, there will always be a difference of opinions. We should be able to have open discussion and differing opinions and still maintain respect for each other. In the end we should be able to at the very minimum agree to disagree. You don't need to attack each other's character or tell someone that he/she has their head up their ass. We are all after all humans and we should act like it.

    I find it very interesting that the professionals on here agree with Dale's post and can express their comments in a professional manner while the armatures/semi-professionals seem to express their comments in a less than professional manner. Just to be clear I consider a professional someone who makes most or all of their income from the work they have chosen to do.

    As long as someone is charging something for their services there will always be someone else trying to do it cheaper and gain the business. I maintain if you are going to enter into any business and try to be competitive you have to do the research and learn all you can about the industry so you can play smart and fair.

    To say your consumer camera takes as good as an image as a pro level camera is just wrong. If you had two cameras equipped with the same lens, filters, etc. and give them to a person who knew how to use both cameras to their max capabilities and asked him/her to take the exact same photo on both cameras....I am willing to bet the one shot on the professional level camera will be better. After all we are talking about a cropped sensor vs a full sensor and a whole bunch of other stuff I probably don't know or would understand as an armature. If you don't agree with me then why do you have the camera you do and not just some simple point and shoot that you bought at Wal-Mart for $49.99.

    There is just no way you can compare the quality and performance of some small compact car with those of a high-end luxury car. It is just not fair.....then why do we do it with photographers...armature vs professional?

  • Juan December 1, 2012 02:30 am

    Hello everyone again. I agree with Albert that the ideal of a professional is delivering quality products, whatever the craft. That's how a professional should be measured. The example you provide of Van Gogh is pretty convenient for this discussion, because, as I can imply from your statement, it was the pass of time and appreciation of his art that gave him the credit he did not receive when he was alive. So I think he was not considered a professional in his time. Maybe I am going to far by saying that, so he was perhaps considered as an average artist or even an artist under the average or else there was not a market for his work. But the truth is you can hire a professional to deliver a product and still receive something you consider substandard. Or you could hire Becky, who is very active in the forum and considers herself (for what I can imply) a really advanced amateur or semi-professional photographer (though I think she is a part-time professional), and get what you expected and even more.

    On the other hand, I would like to ask if you consider that some wedding photographers are overrated in the USA and charge too much for their work and whether wedding photography prices should go down. I ask that because though we all try to haggle over prices, I often see that issue arising when it comes to wedding photography. This is an open question for everyone here, not just for you Albert.

    Thanks for your replies.

  • Lars December 1, 2012 02:13 am

    I´m pretty sure some people at Kodak had the same approach as Jore when the saw the market for analog film being taken over by digital cameras. Look at Kodak today and what happend to them as they didn´t continued to develop their business to what the market was asking for. Why should this be any different if you´re a photografer?

    The market changes and if you don´t change with it you won´t survive. Its evolution in nature as in business.


  • Dale Wilson December 1, 2012 01:17 am

    As the author I am going to ask that we stop making personal accusations and insinuations. I knew full well this post would polarize the photography community, but I was not prepared for the personal insults that have resulted.

    However, I also believe healthy debate is, well, healthy. Just as I also believe healthy competition is healthy. So please, continue the debate if it will add to discussing the complexities facing the photo community today.

    There is no way a writer can verbalize in a blog entry the state of photo industry - it is a visual medium in complete metamorphosis. How it will play out at the end of the day is anyone’s guess. In many cases it is being driven by digital technology; we can’t stop technology nor should we try. To reflect on one poster’s comments: We no longer have automotive mechanics, but automotive technicians as necessitated by advances in computerized systems onboard cars and in shop analysis.

    So, let’s continue the dialogue and have meaningful discussion by respecting each others position. We don’t necessarily have to agree, but we should extend the courtesy of respect.

    Thank you.

    PS: Yes, it was my intention all along to do follow up post(s) that will hopefully add some degree of assistance to those who now practice photography as an avocation.

  • Becky December 1, 2012 01:10 am

    @Albert, you are so right. A lot of artists (in other areas) are considered professional when they sell their art work. Some of them have spent years training in art schools all around the world, others have taken their paints sat by a river and painted. Neither is necessarily more or less talented. Rather, one has a few certificates that say they have passed someones idea of 'great'. If someone commissions me on the work that I show them, and they are extremely happy with the end result that to me is all I need to show I am a professional at what I do.

  • Albert December 1, 2012 12:56 am

    Why is the professionals so offended by the remarks of amateurs? If your work is good and of good quality then you will always have work. For example, I take my car to what other people will call a "under the tree mechanic" but I know I can trust him, I know he is good at his work and will give me the best service at very reasonable prices. He don't need to worry that I will take my car to some one else, even if he is on leave, I rather wait till he is back. And the reason for it is I CANNOT afford the ridiculous prices dealerships charge for the same job. I do not earn thousands of rands/dollars to just spend on what I want.

    What am I saying: that the average person DO NOT earn thousands of rands/dollars to spend on what ever professionals charge them and they must take what they can get and make the best of it. What do you do if you live in a third world country where a third to two thirds of the people live below the breadline - less than R5 ZAR or 62 American cents - a day. What do you do if your client only have like $80 to spend on photos but they are so madly in love with one another and want to spend the rest of their lives together in marriage!? Do you think they will ever be able to afford the Jore Puusa's etc?

    If your work and service is of good quality YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE WORK AND YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE CLIENTS!! And for goodness sake, what were you before you became a professional?? An amateur!!

    O and another thing, the fact that I am "giving away" photo's DOES NOT MAKE ME A THIEF!! It actually cost me something, I paid for that photo's that I took in what ever way! So I find your accusation of amateurs being thieves very unreasonable!

    I stick to my statement: the fact that you are a professional tells me zip about the quality of your images! In any case who made the decision that you are a professional? You? Because you have the papers to proof it? Or is it that you are really good? Take your photo's and give it to a panel of 20 judges and the chances are good that every single one on that panel will have his or her own opinion! Yes when 18 of that 20 judges give you the thumbs up, then maybe you can call yourself a pro! The fact that you earn money for your work also does not earn you the title of pro. The painter/artist Van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime but that did not made him an amateur!

    Professional is when you are good in what you do!

    Beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder!

  • Becky December 1, 2012 12:51 am

    @ Jore Puusa, I will explain one more time. My name is Becky, NOT Rebecca or any other version of that name. It is not my nickname it is my birth name in full without my surname. My passport is in the name of Becky, my marriage certificate, birth certificate etc. I appreciate English isn't your first language, in fact you write very well for someone who is using their third language and that I commend (I admit I only speak English), but please don't assume I am using a nickname, my name is Becky, I just choose not to give my Surname (family name) on forums. If I was linking to my Photography work then I would choose to use my surname. But I don't I am just reading articles and commenting.
    Why do you think it is not fair for me to try and build my own photography business up whilst working full time? Is it because I was not able to go to University to study photography? Well then I had better tell two of my friends to give up their photography work, one a professional Wedding and Portrait photographer of 35 years, they will be shocked to find out they have no right to be a professional photographer because they do not have a degree.

  • Patrick Dinneen December 1, 2012 12:27 am

    I can see this getting (even more) heated)
    Jore Puusa said :
    "For starters, I sign with my real and whole name Jore Puusa while You use a nick becky That is also the basic difference between pro and amateur. We as pros have to stand behind out work and words with our own personality."
    People use a nicename oline for many differnet reasons, don't read anything into it. I'd imagine a professional uses his/her full name as it makes it easier for a reader to link to their work/website.
    I see from other posts you have an issue with people not using their full names-
    "Dear Ben, I´ll answer to You when You are brave enough to use Your whole name." from

    "Gear means nothing to me, a real pro can handle a commission with one old ragged body and 50mm lens cause he/she has gone through photographic school and has ability for metaphor and knows basics of history of art."
    No offence, but that's rubbish. So you could shoot a sports game with a 50mm prime lens? Gear means a lot, FACT.

    "A pro can tell a visual story while an amateur shoots for reproduction."
    A pro wedding photographer should be better than amateur, one reason being that they'd have shot a lot more weddings. But it doesn't mean a good amateur can't tell a story.

    "But I come from photojournalism and if amateurs take over we lose the objective and professional journalism."
    If amateurs take over doesn't that imply that their work is good enough?

    "Everybody who shoots for nothing takes part in killing of professional photography."
    "This site Digital Photography School is one of the worst sites giving away the professional knowledge"

    What should it be, like the magicans circle and keep it secret? Don't you think that many photographers have turned pro after gaining knowledge for free and by shooting events for free in the beginning?

    It's true that the pro photographer world is in turmoil and change but it has to adapt. Maybe people need to market more, differently, find a niche and be very good at it. People have always, and will continue to pay for guaranteed (well as close as you can get to a guarantee) very good work.

  • Jore Puusa December 1, 2012 12:26 am

    @becky. Because You use nickname " becky" You are able toinsult me like "I´m a rude person". I have not said anything about Your personality and You have never met me. If You used Your whole real name You´d behave Yourself.
    I must say that I´m a bit surprised how bad is the understanding of sarcasm and metaphor. As You all understand I`m not going to contact anybody´s boss. I´m trying to show how selfish it is to steal other peoples income while already having one job.
    If You do not understand that and feel that stealing is OK, what can I do. Nada.
    As I wrote earlier my english is bad and its is my third foreign after swedish and french..I quess there are none who could read finnish or other european lanquages so I try to make myself clear with the only way I can.
    For me and hundeds of my fellow photographers its is totally clear what is happening. People who have steady income from another job are greedy enough to take more and more. And that leads to death of professional photography. Photographer usually has only this profession and he/she has gone to a school for it. Amateurs have other jobs as well. This is a question of moral, as a understand USA is heavily religious country and bible says many things about doing wrong to others.
    If You have two shirts You should give the other to that who has none-- but You who write here proamateur take also the only t shirt away from the poor.
    That is ofcourse seen as capitalism and way to success, for me it is only stealing and greed.
    But I know, writing about this is like trying to take a candy out of childs mouth. Young people of today have their moral bought as IPad app and free if possible. No use to continue cause I only hurt myself to read all this greed and hard of heart words.

  • Becky November 30, 2012 11:50 pm

    @ Joshua, how true! I took the plunge into wedding photography a couple of years ago, and it was the best thing I ever did. I don't think I under charge, I spent a lot of time looking at other photographers and what they charged locally (I didn't call them that would just be rude) even speaking to some friends who are full time wedding photographers and looking at what kind of packages I can offer. I have invested myself in my little part time business, I don't take on lots of commissions each year currently as I have young children and think my current full time work fits better. I would actually have preferred to work along side a professional as an assistant to start with but when a friend asked me I took the chance to take their wedding photos. We signed a contract, I took out insurance and there you have it I started my own little business,
    Sometimes I also think that just because someone has a very limited budget why shouldn't they be able to have the most amazing wedding photos? For some people I do agree a lower fee, but they also get slightly less from me (not professionally my manners, my input etc, but maybe less photos or I don't add all the trimmings such as the thank you cards etc that are included normally). Sorry if that offends any 'professionals'.

  • Becky November 30, 2012 11:42 pm

    @ Jore Puusa, you are a very rude person! I have personal reason I do not use my surname on forums and that is NOT part of the discussion here. My opinion like yours, is that an opinion, you think very highly of yourself.
    As for contacting my boss ans getting me fired, go ahead, they know I have a part time photography business, they know my intention one day is to become a full time 'professional' photographer and have done for years. But what the will say to you is " Becky (yes they will say BECKY) is a professional, the work she does here is of a high professional standard, her photography work does not causes us any concern as it is not on our time".
    For you to think that for one minute your photography is any better than an someone who does not earn their living as a photographer but does it for a hobby shows the size of your ego! A professional photographer is someone earns their LIVING only from being a photographer, not because they are so much better than someone who does it as a hobby. I can tell by your comments I would never employe you to do anything for me, photography or otherwise. You are the only person on here to single out and try and belittle others.

  • Laura November 30, 2012 11:24 pm

    Wow, some people!! For God's sake, relax!

  • Lesley November 30, 2012 09:08 pm

    OK Jore, you're on. I'm a teacher, and have been for the past 41 years (or was until I retired at the end of last year). So please contact my boss. It's I, myself and me. I admire the depth of feeling in your response, but maybe English is not your first language. Please read carefully before you jump. At least in my case, you will see that I do not do 'wedding photography'. I do not take jobs away from wedding photographers and in fact, recommend excellent professionals when I can. If I take photographs at a wedding, it is because I am a guest and they are friends or relatives and I will have my camera anyway. I am careful not be an 'uncle Bob' and stay out of the way of the official photographer. I share the best ones and they are in no way associated with the photos being taken by the paid Pro. Most of my photos are password protected or Private.
    I am now lucky enough to be able to travel and if people see and like my photographs and offer to buy them from me, do you expect me to say no?
    I met a semi-pro recently at a workshop when we were paired together. The quality of his work was excellent and he is now taking on paid commissions as a wedding photographer. What he needed was the confidence to actually get started. How would you justify sniping at his entry into the business? Until he becomes better known, I'm sure he will continue to have to work part-time to make ends meet. Is that wrong?

  • Jore Puusa November 30, 2012 08:16 pm

    I would love to know the daily profession of Lesley and Joshua and Erica and Ben Chapman. Then I´d love to contact their bosses and tell them that feel free to fire these people, I´ll do their job for free cause I get so much money from photography that I´ll survive and would like to do something little extra.
    Then we all could hear a terrible scream..Keep out of my job, it´s my job I need it to keep my family alive.
    For some reason we photographers are free to shoot down.
    This is a question of moral. Somebody says that it´s not the fault of amateurs if someone is stupid enough to get pictures for free from them, it´s the fault of that who likes to get crap for nothing.
    Well let´s put it the other way....I see it´s not my fault if a shop keeps candy bars so openly that anyone can steel them, ofcourse if I steel those candy bars it´s the fault of shopkeeper.. Or for You americans might be easier to understand.."guns do not kill people do"..which is the most stupid and unmoral sentence I´ve ever heard.

  • Lesley November 30, 2012 06:51 pm

    I would love to comment on so many of these posts, but I think what jessi brendel says fits what I believe the closest. I've used a camera almost all my life, starting with a Brownie Box given to my dad for me, when I was born. That will let you guess how many years that is, and how many cameras I've had. I never really had the chance to learn properly to use my first SLR, making mistakes was expensive and took a while to realise. I now have a Canon 60D which I love and use all the time. My special interest is street photography and family portraits, which I've been doing for nearly 40 years and can see how my photos have developed over this time. I do take in RAW, only now I've developed the confidence and understanding of what my camera can do, and I am starting to see an improvement in the quality of my work. I use Lightroom to help me sort out the thousands of photos I have. Like Jessi, I call myself a professional, but I'd add amateur to that - professional amateur - as I don't charge for my photos, but I'm looking at ways to earn from my street photography. I go to workshops and meet many others, amateur, pro and semi-pro, some who really inspire me with what they achieve.
    I have many friends who are professionals and I truly admire their work. I learn from them and recommend them to others. I would never offer to do a wedding even for money, it's full-on, especially where I live. However, I will be taking behind the scenes photos at my niece's wedding in January. I will enjoy the event, but as family, I will offer a unique perspective the pro won't have. I will collect the best into a photobook and give them to her and her new hubby as a gift.

  • Kay Thomas November 30, 2012 03:26 pm

    I am a bit insulted at this post. I thought this was a site for building confidence and sharing passion. This article made me feel unworthy and made me feel because I am pursuing my passion, educating myself, investing money, time and energy, blood, sweat and tears into my art, I am killing off the profession. What the heck is that about? This title is so misleading and this article was condescending, rude, and completely selfish. I am of a state of mind that an amateur photographer at a wedding is better than no photographer at all. Don't you think these couples would hire an amazing specialized wedding photographer they could. I am at a loss of how this article is constructive or helpful. I shall move onto a new site that actually cares about the passion of photography and spreading the confidence needed to become a better photographer rather than contributors who are pissed off at loosing a commission. Honestly, this is nothing but a rant about losing a commission or two. Shameful :(

  • joshua November 30, 2012 02:05 pm

    If you have what it takes to shoot a wedding. Take the risk. There's always the first time in everything. Professional Wedding Photographers are not born Professional as they think they are. You have to be willing to take calculated risks to succeed in any business in my opinion.

  • Erica S November 30, 2012 12:20 pm

    Why are pros getting mad at the amateurs for taking away their business? It's not the amateurs fault if a client wants a cheaper way to get pictures and doesn't care if the pictures aren't fabulous. There's a niche there that's been filled, and it's not the amateurs fault for being smart enough to fill it. I understand the pros must be frustrated as it is harder to make a living, but it would be better to come to terms with the fact that most people are fine with amateur quality, rather than getting mad at the amateur who gives people what they want and gets to have some extra money in their pocket.

  • Jessi Brendel November 30, 2012 11:10 am

    So many of these comments lean toward amateur photgraphers producing substandard work... You mean to say that because we don't do this as our only means of making a living, this makes our images less than good and nowhere near as good as images others would charge a couple grand for? What makes you think that I don't spend just as much time and care on my images as you do? I shoot in RAW, I go through post-processing - I suppose that because I don't use Lightroom, I'm discredited here, too? - and I deliver my own brand of images to happy clients.

    I call myself a professional because of the attitude I take toward my clients. I work hard to deliver a product that meets their expectations in a manner consistent with any business person. I train myself on new techniques, often with the counsel of more experienced shooters. I know my camera inside and out, keep all of my equipment in excellent condition and upgrade whenever I'm able to.

    Professionals were all amateurs once. You all worked for "free" somewhere, somehow, in order to get where you are today. How would the amateur you used to be feel about someone telling you that your work can't measure up to theirs because theirs is so much more expensive? Don't look down upon where you came from as if you are somehow better than the amateurs.

  • Dean Coleman November 30, 2012 08:50 am

    As a weekend "Rebel" I take exception to this article that sounds more like the ramblings of a unhappy "Professional" who is losing business to the up and coming breed of amateur photographers making in roads to "their" business. I was hoping to read an article that would help current amateurs move into the professional arena....most disappointing!

  • Ben Chapman November 30, 2012 08:04 am

    My friends is having a budget wedding next Saturday and I was asked to be the photographer. I told him I'm not professional and I didn't want to disappoint, he and his future wife said don't worry about it as they know I'll try my hardest.

    I'll give it the best go I can possibly give and I will not be charging a fee.

    Let the haters hate!

  • Juan November 30, 2012 07:38 am

    At Jore Puusa.

    I agree with you that the most affected branch of the industry is that of photojurnalism, specially because of the "citizen photojournalism" (if that is how it is called in USA or english-speaking countries). Though digital cameras coming into mainstream could be stated as a reason, I think part of that has been used as a excuse by most publications to cut staff and fees, on the assumption of the immediacy of digital images as compared to images captured with film. I have read posts by seasoned photojournalists who started their careers in the film days and they did not have time to process their work (specially because newspapers and other publications need the pictures ASAP). They just sent them via airmail to their headquarters, which might be located on the other side of the world or on their own countries. Therefore, though the digital era may have helped to reduce costs, it has not at least in relation to processing in the photojournalism realm. I cannot go deeper into the reasons for the problems of photojournalism because I really do not know that industry but reading other websites I noticed that most photojournalists complain mainly about the "citizen photojournalism" and the world economic crisis. However, some of them do say that the photojournalism crisis is specific to some countries and local media and most of them should try to freelance for worldwide media to avoid that risk.

    At Leonardo.

    Thanks for reading my post. As you say, there is not a strong cultural background to wedding photography here in my country. So phorographers mostly avoid editing and deliver pictures as they result straight out of the camera. Many never even shoot in RAW as backup. But interesingly, some neighborhood studios that take portraits, with decent light sets, backgrounds and staff, may do quite well: for example, that same friend of mine who I mentioned in my last post sometimes shoots portraits, and for a one-hour session he may be doing as much or more than for shooting a wedding, and sparing the hassle!!! So again, it is relative and related to that photography culture background.

  • Jore Puusa November 30, 2012 07:35 am

    @Jore Puusa my name is Becky, it’s on my birth certificate, I don’t use my surname in forums as a general rule.
    What is the value of Your opinion if You don`t dare to stand behind it with Your personality.

  • Jore Puusa November 30, 2012 07:34 am

    Regan..could You use Your whole name?
    If we as professionals start a moral worldwide issue about not giving away pictures for free and people see the reason then we could manage to bring back some of clients who`d be ashamed to get free ones.
    Amateurs have their main daily job and besides that they shoot for free. That is not fair and that is greedy. I know that world is not fair BUT nothing stops us pros to be proud of what we are and that we are responsible of our pictures, something that amateurs are not.
    I see this a simple metaphor.
    Somebody steals for the fun of it and some suffer from it. So simple.

  • Kustom Jeff Dailey November 30, 2012 06:06 am

    I see a lot of discussions like this and a lot of good points have been brought up. I think the original article is a good one. It addresses something important, but it only addresses part of it and too many people are thinking it should address it all. That's not going to happen in a short article such as this.

    I have to say up front that I get tired of hearing how people giving away pictures is killing the industry. That's not really true. Is it helping to hurt it and lower prices? Sure, but it's only part of it. That's like saying that shadetree mechanics are killing the dealership mechanics. No they're not, they are just part of the overall mechanic industry and must be considered when going into it. Too many photographers think their business is not really a business with all the ups & downs of other businesses. Guess what, they're wrong. Just like Pro mechs have had to deal with the shadetree guys for over a hundred years so to have pro photogs. It's just a bigger nuisance since digital came along. It is up to the business owner to create the impression and experience that makes people value their product more than the lower priced businesses. Also with a divorce rate of close to 50% in the US a lot more people are unwilling to invest in great photos because they expect to not care about them in a few years. They still spend a ton on the ceremony because that is about a fantasy they grew up with and showing off to other people. You should be glad that a customer asks for an estimate up front. If they have a budget of $500 and that's all they can spend PERIOD then if your prices are well above that then neither of you have wasted a lot of time going over stuff the client can't afford. As a pro photographer you are a salesman and if you can't sell your product then maybe you need to work for someone else. To the person who used the example of someone coming in and offering to do your job for less, all I can say is that you obviously do not work in outside sales. That happens to businesses every day. Just like when cars displaced wagon makers who didn't adapt, photographers who see the changes in the photography and don't try to keep up or get ahead will be run out of business. That's how capitalism works. Is it fair? Hell no, but that's life.

    I could go on, but you get my point or not by now.

  • Hugh November 30, 2012 05:42 am

    PS. I loved the comments about "weekend Rebels (they all shoot with Rebel’s, don’t they?)".
    That's me to a tee! ;D

  • wjgreenall November 30, 2012 05:34 am

    Warning: The following post contains material which some readers may find contentious.

    There is so much meat in this thread it willl run and run I am sure. The first thing that comes to mind is that the professionals are whinging on like they are the only profession under threat from advances in technology making it easier for Joe Public to compete with what they do.

    There is hardly any profession out there that is not under threat from advances in hardware technology and the dissemination of knowledge provided by the Internet, even the Doctors and Lawyers mentioned in one of the posts above. You can now buy draft documentation for almost any conceivable contract on line for a few dollars/pounds/euros. There are myriad websites available to enable you to diagnose your ailments yourself. These professions are having to adapt and change to survive. Why should photographers be a special case?

    Secondly there is a question of value:
    Why does a customer buy a shagpile woollen carpet rather than a cheap manmade fibre one? Because he appreriates the "value" in the price difference.

    Why does a driver choose a Porsche rather than a Miata? He knows that the quality of the driving experience and performance in the Porsche will be worth the extra cost.

    As long as the purveyors of any premium product or service, whether it be sports cars or carpets or photography services, are providing "value" then they need have no fear and they will thrive. When they fail to provide value because their so-called professionalism is based on something akin to the Emperor's New Clothes then they deserve to fail.

    There are many excellent photographers who are highly talented and create beautiful images that the rest of us can only dream if imitating. There are probably many more who, although they have been to college, done the legwork in terms of studying and therefore call themselves professionals, will fail because they do not have the talent or skills which differentiate them from the enthusiastic amateur. It's survival of the fittest.

    Food for thought:
    One of the greatest golfers ever to have lived, Bobby Jones, was an amateur (or armature as it was so gloriously misspelt repeatedly in one of the above posts). "Professionals" in any arena cannot corner the market in talent.

  • Adolfo Chavez November 30, 2012 05:15 am

    @jore puusa I strongly disagree with your recent post. Why do you call it thievery? I do not go into a store and steal if its possible, but I do see different types of brands and some way cheaper than most. Is that stealing from the more expensive brand? If so in what way? Its not thievery, its called competition.

    I am an amateur photographer. Am I good, that's not up to me to decide. People say they like my work. Several people have paid me to take photos. I guess I'm a thief because they paid me instead of a professional. But you know what, I don't think about the money when I'm taking pictures, I'm thinking about everything I know about photography to make the photos look great so they can come to me next time. I guess I'm stealing the pros job. I should get rid of my camera if that is the case.

  • Regan November 30, 2012 04:51 am

    Jore-Those people that want me to take their pix for free aren't going to pay for professional services, period! It shouldn't matter to you as they are not your customers, they will not pay for your services. I will say no, someone else will say yes. I can tell them to call someone and they may or may not call. They want cheap, and they'll find it. In my non-photographic business life, we see people that aspire to be our students, but they don't want to pay for what we offer. Those that need it, and can pay, will. We do not complain about the competitors that the other go to, because there is only one "us", and others can not complete with our services.

    Even in the pre-digital day, there were uncles and friends with the latest and greatest cameras, video cameras and kiosks that printed in 24 hours; and there were professional photographers, some successful, and some hungary.

  • tchudson November 30, 2012 03:51 am

    I'm definitely an amateur, though I have sold 1 photo to be used on a local phone book cover. Recently, my sister asked me to take senior photos for my nephew because she likes my photography. The big issue is, I'm not by any means a portrait photographer, though I have been wanting to do some work in that area. I have told her that I haven't really done any portrait photography, but she has said that, hey, if it doesn't work out and the pictures don't come out, they'll just go to a regular photographer. Fortunately, I do live 800 miles away, which makes it easy to back out of as I have limited opportunities to do the work.

  • Jore Puusa November 30, 2012 03:27 am

    I´m confused. Is there anymore no other kind of photography than wedding in USA?
    I am a photojournalist and this is the area where amateurs have almost totally killed the profession.
    Potraits? Dead?
    Advertising? Dead or dying?
    We should have conversation about the whole industry not just wedding.
    To give pictures for free makes slowly impossible for every pro on every branch to earn ones living.
    I just call this thievery, thieving other peoples chance to live because it is possible.
    One does not go to store and steal just because it is possible. Or do You?

  • Hugh November 30, 2012 03:14 am

    Excellent discussion! I am forwarding this to a wonderful couple who are sure that because I take pleasing landscapes that I would be perfect to shoot their wedding. I do sell some photos but refuse to do weddings because, as you state, wedding photography is a specialty and I don't want to be responsible for flubbing their lifelong wedding memories. I guess I would rather that they be upset with me for refusing than for blowing that special event while I practice, no matter how inexpensive.

  • Albert November 30, 2012 01:35 am

    Ok so I am one of those who, because of circumstances could never attend university or college. I had to take what I had and make the best of it and I will not allow any one to tell me that I am inferior because I don't have the papers to show it. Like Becy, I had to rely on books, libraries and forums like dPs to teach myself the skills I know today. Maybe I am still a far way from being professional, but I absolutely love what I am doing and enjoy every moment of it. My granddad was a professional black and white photographer and it is because of his legacy that I am a keen photographer today. He was willing to teach me the things he knew. Is that not what it is all about, leaving behind a legacy for others to follow? What greater privilege is there when you as a professional photographer could show an upcoming amateur the ropes and then one day see him shine and know in your heart that you where the one that taught him?! It is because of you that made that young boy/girl amateur a professional photographer. You managed to leave behind a legacy!
    So I don't do weddings, but will not turn an opportunity down when it comes my way. To me photography is like giving something of yourself even if it cost you something. There is no greater reward than to see the joy on peoples faces when you hand them some prints especially when they least expected it - no amount of money beat that kind of satisfaction!
    The fact that you are a professional does not tell me zip about the quality of your images!

  • timgray November 30, 2012 01:27 am

    I have done weddings, and my advice to any newbies is... Always charge and charge a LOT. weddings are a pain in the butt. You have to deal with people who are on edge and people who expect that the whole thing MUST BE PERFECT. I hate having to deal with the mother of the bride demanding I take this or that... Being nice to that lady when the Groom is who hired you and asked for specifics is hard.

    Also you MUST think of everything. You have to tell them that the wedding party must pay for all your expenses, they want to take a quick ferry ride for photos? Someone needs to pay for you, your job it to photograph not worry about if you have any cash on hand.

    I have done friends weddings before, and I will not every again. Friends ask and I give them a "go away" number or politely refuse making up an excuse that the gear is going to be out for service that weekend.

    Never EVER be tempted to do the cheap wedding as a favor. I keep getting requests if I could do just the ceremony for $800 and I am here to tell you it is not worth it. IF someone is cheap or poor, then the church will be dark and the pastor will not let you set up lighting gear. that will make the photos all turn out badly as you are shooting at high ISO just to try and get usable photos. And many times you will be asked at the last minute, which means the whole event will be a surprise to you.

    Suprise, you cant photo from anywhere on the stage area.
    Suprise, you cant wander about the congregation, only in the back.
    Suprise, you missed the shot because you did not know they were doing a traditional Greek wedding.
    Suprise, someone moved your stuff or your flash, or unplugged your things.....

    Not worth it. Dont do it.

  • Leonardo November 30, 2012 01:16 am

    Nice post! I almost entirely agree with you and I think you really nailed the most important issue. The author of the article seems to be considering only one side of the equation and you are totally right when you say that we must look at both sides at the same time.

    The core issue is pretty simple: is your average improvised photographer able to (usually) deliver as satisfying a work as your average professional? Because if he is, then I guess we need to accept that photography is not a viable source of income anymore - people will not be able to make a living out of it - and we can't help but adapt and move on... The fact is, I don't think we are at that point, not yet at least.
    I don't think that your average improvised photographer is able to consistently deliver the quality that comes with the experience and competence of the average professional. But he might be able to deliver a quality that is good enough for an average client who is, for the most part, visually illiterate, has trouble telling a good photograph from a mediocre one (or simply doesn't care enough) and has no idea about the amount of work that takes to develop the skill needed to be able to guarantee a quality result (and the expenses that a photographer incurs just to be able to keep his businness running and make a living). And we must not forget that for each improvised photographer that succesfully volunteers for a wedding assignment there is a client who is either satisfied with the quality level that the amateur is offering or that doesn't have a high enough opinion of the job that he feels like investing the right amount of money to pay for a quality service.
    I'm not talking about talent, creativity or artistry here. I'm talking about simple and plain craft: I don't care if your pictures are good because you are a spontaneus genius who instinctively shoots like the camera is just a part of your body or if they are good because you have been at it for 30 years and you have accumulated a lot of experience and "know how". I'm just talking about the quality of the result and the trust I, as a client, can accord to you, the photographer.

    So I agree with you in that the true issue here is not just about the amateur improvised professional and working almost for free, but also about a generally unsatisfying cultural level and attention for the visual arts. If the client doesn't care enough and he happens to think that all it takes to complete an assignment with a quality result is to point the camera and press the shutter release, then he will not develop any respect for the profession and he will invest the lowest possible amount of money to (often) get a mediocre or modest result.

    About the attitude of some clients (many enough to explain why photographer Tony Sleep decided to write the article I'm going to link to) I suggest reading the notorious post "We have no budget for photos" that can be found here:

  • Becky November 29, 2012 11:25 pm

    @Jore Puusa my name is Becky, it's on my birth certificate, I don't use my surname in forums as a general rule.

  • Mark adams November 29, 2012 05:47 pm

    I have shot a wedding as a wedding gift and see nothing wrong with it. I have some nice equipment and am trying to get better at photography. I looked at it as a learning experience. How am I to get better at shooting weddings if I don't practice. Doubt I will ever become a professional photographer, but who knows. Should I not be allowed to practice what I like and have invested serious money in? I know I did not do as well as a professional but the people who had me shoot this knew also. I guess it's the nature of the beast. If u are good enough u should be able to make the money u deserve. Maybe u just need to improve.

  • Marcos Paulo November 29, 2012 11:40 am

    @becky, @jore puusa i think becky has a valuable point in here. Let do parallels: i live in Brazil and i play football on weekends, can I threaten Neymar or Ibrainovic? As a professional, i work with purchasing, everyone purchase something and some people are good negotiators, but this does not qualify them to work in my team. As a professional you should always try to improve your work to be paid what it worths. Meanwhile, i will be chasing suppliers and i won't have the time to be skilled as you, jore, or will I?

  • Natalie November 29, 2012 10:46 am

    Absolutely great article - hit the nail on the head! I have been shooting professionally for nearly two years now focussing on commercial and performance work because they are what I am best at. I have done a couple of weddings and they are by far the most challenging . I have provided quotes on a dozen weddings and definitely the first question is ' how much do you charge?' . When I hear those words I become wary- the person doesn't want to know my style, experience or even if I have the right personality which will get the best shots out of the day. Inevitably they go for the person that is a third of the price with no insurance, less experience etc and I see the photos later and and they definitely get what they pay for . Like I said I don't want to particularly do weddings but when you get undercut in price by such a huge amount ( and I am not expensive- middle of the road for my region and skills) it is not worth doing them because of the stress and time I will have to put in. I am better off spending my time quoting for other jobs. I have also had an issue with other photographer friends who are extremely talented and produce great work but don't have the confidence to charge people. This is detrimental also because clients get used to expecting good work for nothing or a measly bottle of wine ! Anyway great article - thanks. Nat

  • Brad November 29, 2012 09:45 am

    Another post that basically tells people who want to get into professional photography to back off and leave it to those who are already doing it. Thanks for all the help

  • Kelly November 29, 2012 09:22 am

    Hummm. A web site dedicated to helping amateur photographers as well as pros become better at their craft and a whiner taking shots at amateurs.Mr. Wilson says "Cameras don't take the picture" but then states in a derogatory fashion, "They all shoot with Rebels don't they?"
    If you can not handle the pressure what does that say of you?
    Besides, the economic circumstances of each group of people will determine who is hired to do the work. If the budget is $500.00, the "pro" would not have ever been approached to do the work anyway.
    If money is no object then the "pro" most likely will get the contract. Most people know what they are getting when they approach someone to photograph an event.

  • Jessi Brendel November 29, 2012 08:31 am

    Like so many other replying before me, I find this a bit "dismissive," for lack of a better term... It sounds a bit like Mr. Wilson is taking a "holier-than-thou" stand on photography under the guise of modesty (saying he doesn't do weddings for these reasons.)

    I live in an area of the country hardest hit by the recession (if you believe the reports) and have done a few weddings for far less than other local professionals - many of whom are still close friends of mine. I've been exact with my clients about what they are getting when they sign me on to shoot the most important day in their lives. I've shown them the work of others (that I greatly admire) and made sure they have seen my own. We talk at length about their expectations and my own so we all know exactly what we're getting into. Not a single one of them have been anything less than thrilled with their end results.

    And I shoot with a Rebel. Does THAT discredit me?! Sorry, I never could manage to get into some fancy college or buy the top-of-the-line camera, though you yourself have said "Cameras don't take the picture..." Seems a little hypocritical, doesn't it?

    So, no... I'm not the next Diane Arbus, or Dorothea Lange, or even Annie Leibovitz... but I love what I do, I love this site for teaching me new things every day, and I love sharing all of this with other people. And if that means the dude charging $2500 for a destination wedding at Lake Tahoe doesn't get the business, then I'm sorry...

    Best Regards;
    Jessi Brendel

  • Richard Bivins November 29, 2012 08:25 am

    I can see the logic behind Dale Wilson's advice as it relates to wedding photography though I do not agree with his opinion as it relates to other areas of photography. If a person is confident in their skill set then all the power to them. Competition sucks... live with it, or take your ball home and cry about it. I would venture to say that this is only pertinent to a micro-fraction of amateurs. Most amateurs have no inclination to ever throw their hat into the professional arena, but I know of a few that have and have become sensational. Don't go out and make your own movies.. that's for the big studios... Don't let your buddy fix the brakes on your car, that's for the dealerships... Don't become a blogger, that's for journalists... Complete rubbish... Don't play doctor and Don't be your own lawyer... Almost anything else is fair game.

  • Caroline November 29, 2012 06:56 am

    Exactly why I've turned down offers to do weddings. Just because I can take beautiful pictures doesn't necessarily mean I'm equipped and experienced in the art of capturing a once-in-a-lifetime event.

    That said, I did make a friend's wedding cake even though I'm not a professional baker (I didn't do it for money but in lieu of a traditional wedding gift). In retrospect, some of the concerns you outlined here were applicable to that scenario, but fortunately there were no disasters and it was a wonderful experience.

    When I do shoot an event it's for charity or purely for my own enjoyment. Idealist often has postings from charities looking for volunteer photographers, and it's a great way to hone the skills and give back to the community at the same time. I guess I'm still on the hook for replacing any equipment that breaks during those gigs, but then I could just as easily break something screwing around for fun.

  • Darren Lightfoot November 29, 2012 06:09 am

    I don't think the author was trying to define the difference between a professional or armature as much as he was trying to show /explain the affect that unfair competition can have on any type of professional photographer( not just wedding photographers) or any type of workforce. I am sure that most professional photographers purchase bigger and better gear than most armatures just like professional race car drivers drive better and faster cars than your average consumer. I am also quite confident that most professional photographers also incur many more business exposes (loss/theft & liability insurance, replacing gear, advertising, website, studio/office, etc.) than an armature. Therefore they must charge a fee that will sustain their business where an armature can get away with charging much less. This creates an unfair competition situation. How can a professional compete with an armature who have no or very little expenses and is only interested in making a few bucks. I think the point is these armatures are hurting the income of those trying to make a living at photography. Hell some will even argue that it is the death of professional photographers. For the record I am not a professional photographer....I am just an armature and not a very good one at that.

    Before you jump all over Dale's post take a moment and consider this.....assume someone walked into your place of work and had the skills to do your job and told you boss that he/she was willing to do your work for a fraction of what they are paying you and your boss took them up on it and let you go. How would you feel? Still think Dale is snobbish, insulting, has is head up his ass or he is bi-polar? I don't and I see his point. If you want to your research and learn the market/industry you want to compete in and then compete on a fair playing field.

  • Juan November 29, 2012 03:52 am

    After reading the article and some comments, I think the writer made his point clearly. This relates to another article posted several weeks ago on what the meaning of a professional is. In that post there was a definition taken from the dictionary that stated, and I am paraphrasing, that a professional was that individual who derived most of his income from a specific activity. There was another option relating to the level of skill of the individual in performing certain activity. I really went for the first definition on this one. Why? Because you can receive both good and bad services from professionals as well as from amateurs. But sometimes amateurs are so good that eclipse professionals. So skills, as a measure for the definition of professional, become relative. But a so-called professional will always charge you and derive his/her income from the service rendered, regardeless of how good or bad the service rendered was or wasn't. That is why the best professionals usually charge so much. All that being said, I think Becky is a part-time photography professional (leaving equipment out of the equation, as cameras and lenses do not take pictures themselves). I think Teri's remarks are a little unfair, as the author took weddings as an example and I do not believe he is trying to say "stay away from my business" but rather "try to care about the office of others". And I disagree with Jore Puusa because it is not the knowledge of photography that creates problems for professional photographers, but, as the article's author so clearly asserts, an ethical stance towards that profession and the economic environment overall and perhaps a lack of self-assessment from the part of those who (like me) own Rebels, entry level equipment or just do not have the skills, but think they do, and proceed to give up their work for nothing. Giving your work (even if that is taking pictures with a mobile device) for nothing is the real problem: again, it's a matter of income. Off course online and print publications are happy that they do not have to pay for so many pictures that people just take and give up for free. That's what kicks photographers out of business.

    On the other hand, I have to say that here in my country wedding photography is not a way to make a living at all, because most wedding photographers here do not value their work and charge so little (on average US$75 to US$150 per wedding), and because people do not see the artistry behind the job (they just want their pictures taken). So it is a combination of two problems: there is not a culture of or care for photography as art. The other day I was talking to a friend who frequently shoots weddings and he told me that people often get impressed at his equipment (a 7D and a 5DII with several L lenses and speedlights) and then assume his results must be outstanding. But he is still charging too little for, let's say, 7+ hours of work. So I told him he has to go from an equipment-oriented business to an artistry-oriented one, where his work is valued for his talent and creativity so that he can charge that "creative fee" the author refers to. But, still, he is a professional here.

    Just my opinion. I hope is not offensive to anyone.

    And thanks for posting.

  • James Dipper November 29, 2012 03:20 am

    this is funny too "As a professional with more than 20 years experience" get your head out of your ass - people will take you more seriously

  • Jore Puusa November 29, 2012 03:01 am

    @Becky. For starters, I sign with my real and whole name Jore Puusa while You use a nick becky. That is also the basic difference between pro and amateur. We as pros have to stand behind out work and words with our own personality.
    Gear means nothing to me, a real pro can handle a commission with one old ragged body and 50mm lens cause he/she has gone through photographic school and has ability for metaphor and knows basics of history of art.
    A pro can tell a visual story while an amateur shoots for reproduction.
    A pro can shoot much more than weddings, I come from liberal Europe and in my country weddings is not that kind of hysterical investment like it is in USA. Most of finns don`t never get married they just live together. Weddings seems to be some kind of cornerstone to US photography.
    But I come from photojournalism and if amateurs take over we lose the objective and professional journalism.
    Everybody who shoots for nothing takes part in killing of professional photography.
    In that light I find my article clever and helpful for those who are losing their jobs because of amateur photograhers stealing pros jobs.

  • P Shah November 29, 2012 02:27 am

    Another classic article that's blaming amateurs for ruining the professional industry! Some points in this article are valid but blaming the amateurs for a professional business closing totally invalid point!

  • Becky November 29, 2012 01:57 am

    So are you saying that if you are an amateurs you are not talented enough to be a professional? So I wasn't fortunate enough to be able to study photography at school, college or University, other things in my life stopped that. But I have self studied, and studied hard! I always aim to improve my knowledge and understanding. I have also found that the experience I have gained outside of photography (business based and theater based!) has set me in a good position to work closely with people as a Professional photographer and yes I have done some weddings, how have they turned out? Fantastically! I have received further commissions from these and have very happy couples with my photos proudly displayed. I put a lot of time and effort into my wedding photography, I have insurance and I have a business plan. Yes my equipment isn't always brand new, but it is cared for loved and invested in. I do aim to buy new equipment and each commissioned job (as well as paying tax on it) I save to invest in either further equipment or training. So I currently consider myself an amateur as my earnings are not just from my photography business yet. Please don't see take an amateur photographer to be any less skilled or equipped than a pro. Some amateurs have better equipment than some pros they just choose NOT to be a professional photographer. I find your article snobbish and insulting.

  • David Grupa November 29, 2012 12:24 am

    Unfortunately, many people do believe that "digital photography is free" because there are no longer any film expenses incurred. This couldn't be further from the truth.

    The weekend "Rebel" often believes he or she is doing someone a favor by charging a few hundred dollars for the job. After all, where else will a stay-at-home-mom be able to make that kind of money on a Saturday by simply clicking the shutter on her shiny new camera?

    Thus, the public believes professionals are "ripping them off" with what we charge.

    In return they save a few dollars, but get substandard photographs. When will they learn that crap at any price is still crap?

  • Jore Puusa November 28, 2012 11:54 pm

    I find this conversation a bit bipolar. On the other hand Digital photography school takes part in killing photography as a profession by providing amateurs with information how to do it Yourself-- on the other hand there are critical posts like this Dale Wilson`s.
    I am a photojournalist and teacher of photojournalism in Helsinki Finland. Finnish professional photography is rapidly dying cause local pros here give advice in internet for amateurs on how to shoot. Then those same photographers look stunned seeing how those same amateurs give their pictures for free and get pro`s jobs.
    Bipolar really. This site Digital Photography School is one of the worst sites giving away the professional knowledge. I just wonder what we all pros look alike when we have no work anymore. It takes maybe ten years and ---puff-- no paid commissions. It´s happening here, it´s happening in Sweden, Germany, Europe---and then it happens in USA. Just feel pity for those who are in photography schools and have no future. But maybe pro`s really are a bit stupid and willing to believe that good things to happen only.
    (sorry for my english, it´s my third foreign language)

  • Mridula November 28, 2012 05:28 pm

    That will depend on the people getting married, what they can afford and what they decide?

  • Rafael Baptista November 28, 2012 02:50 pm

    How much Should I charge? Marc Wallace gives us the best graphic response to this question. Enjoy the video.

  • ccting November 28, 2012 01:05 pm

    LOL. Professionals aim for money. Assume that my salary is USD1000, and my month expenses is USD 990, leaving USD 10 for monthly saving. Should I hire an professional for USD24,000 for a day or should i hire a skillful amateur for only USD 100?

    How that USD24,000 can improve my happiness?

  • Rick Berk November 28, 2012 11:24 am

    One thing many amateurs and hobbyists who enjoy photography fail to realize is how being paid changes the game. Most amateurs are into photography for the enjoyment and the artistry. When you are a professional, yes there is plenty of enjoyment, and certainly the artistry comes into play, but now you have to please someone other than yourself! It's definitely something that must be considered when pondering turning pro. Great post.

  • Chitra Sivasankar Arunagiri November 28, 2012 10:24 am

    Great post Dale. I saw myself in the article. I have been in this situation and I have regretted this. And one another friend has asked me to shoot in his wedding coming february but I don't know how to turn it down wisely. But instead of losing a friend, I think I would rather tell him directly about what I think. Great writing.

  • Brad November 28, 2012 09:50 am

    For a long time I had that "maybe one day" thought... then I paid close attention to the gear carried by the photographer at a friend's wedding. I suggest all of us "Rebels' (didn't appreciate that) should take a good look at the next wedding. Then, realize that the photographer has no chance of using a tripod or monopod at the reception which means those lens have a large aperture in order to get decent tone (even with a flash). Then go price all of that out. It's a lot of gear just to begin... and then see how often they sit down. (On a semi-related note to the professionals: NEVER use a remote strobe. You may get a good shot, but the "lightning" is annoying and ruins the experience for all of the guests.)

  • Scottc November 28, 2012 09:39 am

    I'll glady "stay away from your business". A number of friends who know photography is one my hobbies have asked me to photograph something for them - I tell them to hire a proffesional.

    Great post.

    I'm an amateur, and I plan to stay that way.

  • Teri November 28, 2012 09:17 am

    Hate to be "that person" who criticises but doesn't tell how to improve - but this article sounds more like a "stay away from my business!" post and has nothing to do with the title - even if you don't do weddings. A more appropriate title would've been something similar to "why professional photographers charge" or "why not to do wedding photography" (don't look at me like that, there's a reason I'm not a writer!) Would've liked to see (another) argument over what constitutes a professional.

  • Regan November 28, 2012 07:04 am

    I really don't believe that the persons that want to save pennies are in the market for a professional photographer. I've been a second camera at a few weddings, and when asked, I recommend my professional friends, who have a style that matches the prospective clients. In this something-for-nothing culture of the western world, you do have to weigh any offer or request to photograph a wedding or any other event. You can't give something you don't have, be it material or talent or patience or time. A friend complained about the results after getting a "special price" a new pro photographer gave them; she missed much of the shot list, not such great images due to limited equipment (A D90/ DX tele zoom and an after market speed light). They really got what they paid for.

  • Jai Catalano November 28, 2012 06:09 am

    I wrote an article called 10 Questions to ask your portrait photographer because cost is usually the first topic that comes up. I sometimes turn work down if that is the primary topic. Why? Headaches. if someone is just interested in cost then it will be tough for them to focus on the big picture. By the way what a great post to read. Thanks.