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Professional vs Amateur, What is the difference?

What is the difference between a professional and an amateur? Pro is better than an amateur right? Let’s find out why a professional isn’t always better than an amateur.

I’m not bragging but was a pretty good photographer. The problem was many models said they would only shoot with “professionals.”

I knew lots of professional photographers that sucked. They did cookie-cutter portraits on fake canvas backgrounds with stiff poses. They lacked creativity and an artistic sense.

Which got me to thinking, what did it mean to be a professional? What were the models really looking for?

Sometimes the model is talking about how the photographer comports themselves. If you are masquerading as a photographer so you can hit on pretty girls, that is unprofessional.

If you don’t relate to the people you work with appropriately, then you are being unprofessional. Though the truth is many professionals act unprofessionally. It is just that a profession has standards people should live up to. Even if they are an amateur.

Being a professional comes down to money. A professional gets paid to do what they do. A professional photographer gets paid to take pictures. It has nothing to do with the quality of those pictures.

Now I don’t think in general you would stay a pro long if you really suck. But that depends on your clients being more interested in quality or cost. Because as we all know you get what you pay for. A cheap pro photographer probably isn’t that good.

This is true in other fields as well. I see it in woodworking. There are a lot of professional woodworkers that aren’t as good as people who do it as a hobby.

So if being a professional is about money, then is there a term we can use to denote quality regardless of payment?

Yes, talent.

You can be a talent amateur or a talented professional. This word denotes the quality of the work you produce.

There are a couple of things that influence your talent and quality of your work. The biggest one is experience. We assume people who are professionals have more experience than amateurs.

That isn’t true. There are lots of serious amateurs who have been doing woodworking for decades. They don’t do it for money, probably because they earn more at something else.

One example would be Nick Offerman. He’s famous for his acting, most notably in the TV show Parks and Recreation. But he is also a talented woodworker who has been doing it for decades.

He has built some wooden canoes that look more like they belong in an art gallery than on the water.

I met many business owners and retired people in the photography world who were extremely talented. They had been doing it for years just for the love of it.

Which also brings us to another factor that influences quality, and that is equipment. Let me start by saying a fancy camera does not make you a good photographer. Talent does.

Good gear can make the process of creation easier but good gear is often expensive, which makes most of us think you have to be making money to afford it.

But there are lots of well off people who can afford to buy the latest DSLR every year. They can also afford a fully stocked woodworking shop most pros would be jealous of.

It doesn’t make them talented, but it helps.

In conclusion, Amateur doesn’t say anything about quality. Finding a pro doesn’t always mean you are getting talent.

Question of the Day: What are you a talented amateur at?

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