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What makes a photographer a ‘professional’?

What makes a photographer a 'professional'?I get emails regularly from people asking the same question. What makes you a ‘professional’ photographer and how can I be one? Although the definition of being a professional anything is pretty straightforward, for the one searching for where they fit into the photography world, it can actually feel a pretty abstract concept. As I can see from those many emails, there are many photographers wondering where they fit in.

So to make this clear: you’re a professional at something when it’s your profession. And a profession in the loosest sense of the word is “a vocation or business”. Although in the photographic world, the word profession may have a more strict definition and that’s open for debate. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as, say, being a doctor or a therapist or even a farmer. Because photography is unique in that it is a hobby or passion which can turn into a very nice business. For some, it’s part-time, for others full-time. When do you cross that line from hobbyist to professional?

A few things that DON’T make you a professional:

  • A big ass camera
  • A bigger ego
  • All the editing programs in the world

So what do I tell those people who email me? When people love what you do and recognise you as a ‘photographer’, when you make any amount of money or business out of photography, then you are a ‘professional’.

What would you tell someone asking you the question: “what make a photographer a ‘professional’?”

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Elizabeth Halford
Elizabeth Halford

is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

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