In this age of digital photography there are more people that have a camera in their hands at this very moment than at any other time in history. The big misconception is most of them believe they are great photographers. Now remember most of those people with their camera in hand have a phone camera. But they still contend they are a great photographer, even though they know not one of the basic rules of photography, they are still legends in their own mind. They are akin to the boy that just got his first car and feels like a race car driver when he’s out on the open road. He is taken curves at breakneck speed, banging through gears and… his 2001 Honda Accord is passed by a delivery truck.
But let’s come back to reality here and look at; what is a photographer? I tend to think of photographers in three groups. There are beginners, there are armatures and there are pros. These three groups can be divided and refined further such as in the pro group we could have semi-pro and the beginners could have an advanced beginner and so on. These groups are of course how I see photographers and it is just merely my opinion, however I know there are many out there that would take up a fight and argue the point. By mere definition a pro is someone in any field of work that makes a living from his work whatever it may be, he is a professional, what he does makes money come into his hand. It has very little to do with what his knowledge of photography is. There could be armatures that take a much better photograph but do not receive a monetary reward; they are not a pro by definition. Also I think it would be fair to say anyone who makes some money on an ongoing basis could say he/she is a semi-pro.
One thing for sure is photographers in general have taken a huge hit in the respect department with the dawn of this new digital photography age. No doubt in part (a major part) to the fact that everybody has a camera and thinks they are a pro. Good wedding photographers are often laughed out the door with price quote tossed to the trash. And not just limited to wedding genre, many businesses are looking for free photography. Just go on Craigs List and type in photographer and look at the ridiculousness of the listings. With this said we all know CL is like taking a walk down a deep dark filthy cyber alley. If you like doing free photography just open up a CL listing and have fun. For a lot of wanna-be photographers the reality soon sets in when they take on jobs or clients and realize… “Hey this is a lot of work.”
It started off as a fun thing, he/she took some extra cash or used a credit card (in most cases) and purchased a high end DSLR & lenses. Then started taking some nice photos, then started to edit and share with friends, post to social media and the compliments come pouring in and life is grand. So like crack they can never get enough and they go up to the next level and deem themselves a “great” photographer and set up shop. How many times I have heard the horrible story of a bride who had her special day only to find that the photographer could not deliver what he had promised or he delivered crappy work and it was all in the name of the photographer “bit off more than he/she could chew.” Of course I’m using wedding photography as an example. Another place you can find the wanna-be photographer is on sites like Model Mayhem, along with the plethora of wanna-be models are all of the wanna-be photographers. Don’t get me wrong everybody has to start somewhere, but most are clueless. Model Mayhem works for some but is more like a murky quagmire due to the fact that both the photographers and the models want to build portfolios for free. Each wants the other to work for nothing. Just like Craigs List the photographer is expected to show up with thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and work for free. To make matters worse some photographers have thousands of dollars of equipment and are really just a person with a lot of expensive camera equipment.
So in conclusion if you are a photographer at any level do not expect a lot of respect. And know laughing at the photographer’s quote is not just limited to photography, it happens in any business where the average person has access to the same equipment as the pro. Years ago I worked part time for a tree service. We showed up to a job to remove a limb from a tree that was overhanging the property owner’s garage and swimming pool. His homeowners insurance had requested it be removed for safety reasons. The homeowner donning a fresh plaster cast on his left arm and as it turns out he had requested a quote a few weeks earlier and declined to have the job done. His wife who was furious told us he went to Walmart and purchased a chainsaw, came home and fell out of the tree and broke his arm. She then found the price quote and called my boss to do the job. Armature!