Amateur vs. Professional Photography
I was seven years old when my father bought a professional camera. My father was working as a journalist; he wanted to complement his reporting with pictures. Since early in my life, I was fascinated with my father's work, I wanted to become a writer, I wanted to become a photographer.
I have been taking pictures for 20 years, I have used film camera, point and shoot camera and DSLR. Am I a professional photographer? What are the differences between amateur and professional photographer?
Difference between Amateur and Professional Photographer
Even though you may own a professional camera and take wonderful shots, this does not make you a professional photographer. Then, what is the difference between amateur and professional photographer.
The obvious answer is money. If you have never charged money for your photography, never sold photos, you are just a hobbyist. Even if you have earned money from your photos, but cannot pay rent, mortgage and other expenses from photography earnings, you are not a professional photographer.
A professional photographer can be self-taught or trained in photography schools. However, he/she has a long list of credentials, and worked as an apprentice with a professional photographer earlier in his/her life.
A professional photographer has high-end equipments such as SLR/DSLR, 35 mm or larger lens, tripod, lighting equipments etc. Since photography is the main source of income, a professional photographer invests lots of money on his/her equipments.
The examples of professional shots used in this article are by Deependra Bajracharya.
Barjacharya is the president of Photo Journalist Association of Nepal. He runs a photography school in Kathmandu.
- If photography contributes at least 75 percent of the income, he/she is a professional photographer.
- A professional photographer has a studio, photography website or office.
- A professional photographer spends long time in shooting session.
- A professional photographer is usually associated with organization for photographers.
- A professional photographer also works as a teacher in photography school and workshops.
Professional photographer's shot
Amateur photographer's shot
To become a professional photographer, you need:
A SLR/DSLR camera
Different types of lenses
Memory cards with good storage
Hard disks for backup
Software such as Lightroom or Photoshop
Office, website or studio
Different types of reflectors
What kind of photographer you are?
How to Become a Professional Photographer
- As an amateur, you are perhaps looking for enjoyment and artistry. However, never stop yourself to go pro.
- You are an amateur does not mean you don’t have talent to become a professional photographer. Always be ready to turn your hobby into a vocation.
- Calculate your expenses and liabilities before you offer your service.
- Don’t leave your equipments unattended. If your equipments are damaged, you will probably never recover the cost.
- Before you begin to work alone, try to find a professional photographer who will hire you as his/her apprentice.
- Read photography books, view photographers’ work.
- Enter a photography contest.
- Join photography community in World Wide Web.
- Share your work in the social media and photo sharing sites.
- Build online and offline portfolio of photographs.
- Join photography school and always read Do It Yourself information on the internet.
- Lean photography techniques such as the rule of the thirds, photo composition, lighting etc.
- Invest time and money on your chosen vocation. Buy high-end photography equipments.
- Whenever you get a chance, interact with photographers.
- Don’t be afraid of criticism.
- Develop a business strategy and spend time in marketing your work.
- Last but not the least, practice, practice, and practice.
Portrait Photography by a Professional Photographer
Portrait Photography by an Amateur Photographer
Tips for Amateur Photographers
You are an amateur photographer does not mean you are a bad photographer. In the past few years, National Geography has published wonderful photos by amateur photographers.
You are an amateur photographer does not mean you cannot charge money for your work. If you can find clients willing to pay for your work, you can always do so. Since professional photographers charge extravagantly, amateur photographers have great chances of finding work.
Wedding photography is very specialized kind of photography. However, it will allow you to go pro. When you are invited for a wedding, ask your host if you can take pictures. It is good if they pay you, but even if they don’t pay, don’t hesitate to photograph wedding. In the beginning, do it for free. When you have some experience, you can charge for your work.
How much should an amateur photographer charge for his/her work?
It depends on your experience.
It depends on your client.
It depends on how much a professional charge for similar kind of work.
Amateur should always charge far less than the professional photographers.
You can raise your pay after you have successfully done couple of projects.
Professional Photography Tips
- Develop a goal and objectives for your business.
- Always be critical of your photography. Compare your works with other photographer’s works.
- Go for location scout.
- Get in touch with the models for your photographs. In the beginning, you can ask your family and friends to work as model. This will save you money.
- Advertise your service on print and web.
- Maintain the contact list of your clients, models and associates.
- You can take a cue from others works, however, you have to be original and creative.
- Try to exhibit your works in photography exhibition.
- Burn your photos in a DVD and send it to the possible clients.
- Watermark your photos.
- Attend business management course.
- You can give one of two photos as a gift, but never compromise with your work.
- Don’t jump into the business until you have strong income source.
- Find local newspapers who hires stringers.