Amateur vs Pro

The difference between an amatuer and a professional used to be defined by your primary source of income. Now every week I read how some hobbyist photographer is earning money from their pictures while a professional complains of falling rates and a lack of income. Everyone points to the same factors, the rise of digital, internet distribution, organisations paying low prices and photographers accepting those low prices. This is the way of economics, supply and demand, price points and the bottom line. Accept it. I never thought it would be easy to make money in this job and with so many people owning cameras that can deliver high quality images then there is definitely a glut in the market. Anyone can take a technically great artistically fantastic photograph. That is the beauty of the technology. So what's the difference between amatuer versus pro?

Here's one way to tell the difference:

“The important thing that a photojournalist does is they know how to tell the story — they know they’re not there to skew, interpret or bias,” said Katrin Eismann, chairwoman of the Masters in Digital Photography program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. “A photographer can go to a rally or demonstration, and they can make it look as though 10 people showed up, or 1,000 people showed up, and that’s a big difference. I’m not sure I’m going to trust an amateur to understand how important that visual communication is.”

So that's one way. Literacy in visual communication. A hard thing to define but I know that when I take a photograph, when I edit and select them I'm looking for something that is informative, that raises questions, that gives the viewer a sense of the atmosphere of the situation. In short, I'm looking for something that captures the essence of the scene. How do I know what that is?

The answers to this question relies on my knowledge of visual communication. I study photographs. I read reports and accounts. I listen. I wait. I work hard to look and try and understand what I am seeing, both through the viewfinder and outside of it. And I am always building upon that knowledge. I would define an amateur not by the income they receive from their photography but by the level of understanding they have on what they doing with their photography. Do you understand what it is you are photographing and how your photographs comminicate that? If so, then you're a pro.

1 comment:

k.mean said...

i love this blog, and i love this article. I'm no photographer: amateur nor pro, i just like looking at photos. I don't even know how to study them. I just know when I like them. I want to learn how to interpret photographs, any suggestion, books, schooling, or blog on how to interpret and study photographs?