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Old Aug 1, 2005, 1:27 AM   #1
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Folks, I havewhat I consider a stupid question but that deserves an answer: What makes one a professional photographer? Is it going to Versity or college and qualifying with a degree in photography, is it knowledge in photography andquality of photography or is it this title confered by some organisation? How does one get there? Thanks.
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Old Aug 1, 2005, 3:48 AM   #2
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Well, I'm not a professional photographer, but IMO, making a living by doing photography makes you a professional photographer. IE, photography is your main job. Or at least one of your jobs.

To make money out of photography, you need to be good of course. Thus a degree would definitely help. For me personally, its too expensive doing a course in photography, so Im downloading online courses, tips andtutorials like a man posessed.

The University of the northwest (Potchefstroom University) has a creativity centre that offers a couple of coursesin photography. As far as I know they have one evening class a week. It costs a couple of thousand rand for the 3 month course (is not a degree). I have not personally done it, but have seen some of the students work, and it looks very good to me.

There should be similar courses in Jhb and Pta.
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Old Aug 1, 2005, 3:52 AM   #3
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according to the definition as found in the rulebook of the internation olympic committee (IOC)...the demarcation between amateur and professional is... j/k of course..
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Old Aug 1, 2005, 5:44 AM   #4
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I agree with Carrots - if the majority of your income is from photography then I would say you're a Pro. But I would say it's just like any other profession - a degree alone doesn't mean squat. I know a number of people who went to college, got degrees and never worked a day in their studied profession. I have also worked with a number of business individuals throughout the years that amazingly still have a job even though I would say they are grossly incompetant. But my guess is that it's a little harder to survive as an incompetant photographer - not too many ways you can bury your incompetance.
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Old Aug 1, 2005, 5:52 AM   #5
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Thats true. Some of the students were great, some were horrible. All had the same teacher. As photography is an art, doing a photography course is the same as art school. If you cant paint, you cant paint. End of story.

No use trying to become a concert pianist if you are tone deaf.

Here's what I would do if I wanted to become a pro. Take a couple of pics. Post them in the critique section. I'm sure there are people that will be able to tell if it will be worth your while.

In the "photo challence" forum there is a list of books and web tut's you can read to get you started.

Although by asking such a question you are probably already pretty good, and dont realy need tuts.
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Old Aug 1, 2005, 10:18 AM   #6
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I agree that to be a Pro, you need to make a majority of your earned income from photography.

I just wanted to add that you don't have to be good at photography to be a Pro. You just have to be good enough at the photography and also be good at running your business. Marketing and sales are even more important.

A good photographer that is bad at marketing will fail. An average photography that is good at marking will succeed. Period.

Eric
ps. Hopefully the bad photographer will fail no matter what, but alas... that some times that takes longer than we want.
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Old Aug 1, 2005, 10:30 AM   #7
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The definition to be a professional you must derive a substantial portion of your income from the activity.

And surprisingly you do not need to be good at photography, (though that helps a lot) you do need to be able successfully market and sell what you produce.

I know some people who are terrible at photography yet are managing to stay alive doing it. And some absolutely excellent photographers who cannot manage to sell any thing because they lack the marketing/sales/business ability.

Peter .

Edit, I see Eric beat me to the enter key :-).
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Old Aug 2, 2005, 2:26 AM   #8
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Folks I felt great reading from you.In May I walked in a shop and picked a Canon 350D and I decided that day that I was going into photography soul, mind and body. I enrolled at National School of Photography in Johannesburg and did anIntermediate Course in Photography. For six weeks I toiled. Ibelieve,the essentials were covered: History, single lens reflex camera equipment, lenses, film, digital, flash, light meter,mechanics of photography: depth of field, exposure, lighting, composition, freezing movement, blurring movement, panning, using tripod, macro photography, shutter control, filters.

In general ,I have been given the basics. I bought a couple of books to supplement the knowledge I acquired at school.Have been reading as though I am preparing forexams. Also have been doing some practice. The school gave lots of practice too. Being at school now (not photography) does not give me much time for practice but I grab every opportunity.

I didphotography before but not on the scale of a pro. As a matter of fact, I paid my way in high school with the money I earned from photographing people (then I did only peoples photography). Shelved photography the last tenyears. Look I don't have time to goand do a complete course but can always grab short courses that I deem necessary.

With you folks giving such valuable advice, this forum is a great educator, I continue to learn alot. So I summarized the points in the discussion. A pro need to:

1. Earnliving by photographing. Well it does not matter, you may have another job but this occupies a considerable chunk of your time.

2. Marketing and sales skills. If you are going to take this as a bread winner, you need to tell customers that you deliver. I agree and I think this is a vital aspect of professionalism.

3. Good photographic skills are indispensable. You may not be the best but at least you need to have the basic or rather thenecessary knowledge of how to go about photographing. This may come from school, reading, practice, discussion forums like this one, allowing others to critique your photos so that you know the difference between a good photo and a bad one though this is at times subjective.

4. Myaddition, like being in love it needs engagement and commitment and passion to crank the engine of photography.

Thanks.
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Old Aug 2, 2005, 11:38 AM   #9
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Hards80,

My daftness failed me again onthis one: "... j/k of course..."

. Could you shoot again please?:?
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Old Aug 2, 2005, 6:02 PM   #10
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Hard80 is bascially saying that the traditional definition of amature is someone who does not take money (or make money, depending on your view) where as a Pro makes money at something.

Of course, for a long time that was mostly true in the US and not true in many other countries (who basically gave their athlets everything they needed so they could practice... i.e. they effectively made a living doing it.) But if you're looking towards the olympics this isn't the definition any more as so them its the best people in a given sport that compete... amature/pro doesn't matter.

Aumma45,
Portrait work is photography and if youre good at it and have a passion go back and do that. If you paid your way through school with it then clearly you have some tallent

Not only do you have to be a good at marketing/sales, you also have to be good at business. This can not be stressed enough. You have to have a business plan, understand expenses, and do it right or you will probably fail even if you're good. Of course, you can always pay others to do those things (or get help doing them) but that should also be part of the business plan.

Photography is a very rewarding path, but its also a very hard one. Most professional photographers I know start out doing something and and slowly transition into photography as the business picks up. I would suggest you find something else you love and do that *while* you build up your business. Just make sure the "something else" is flexable enough to not get in the way of the photography.

You didn't way what type of photography you want to do. If you talk about what you'd like to do and your vision for pictures that might help get more comments that directly relate to your goals.

Eric
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