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    • Everyone agrees the smartphone has had a huge impact on photography generally. In an article all about smartphone photography, I read the quote below. Do you agree?

      “... there’s a distinction between amateur photographers and professionals: one takes photos to capture the moment while the other uses photos as a medium for art. And art generally has something to say.”

    • There is another angle to consider - the word professional itself.

      Comparing an amateur vs. professional is like comparing hobbyist with a craftsman. One creates for fun and enjoyment, while the other creates to make a living and, hopefully, enjoys it too.

      For about eight years, I used to be a professional photographer shooting weddings to make a living. I since moved on to focus on design, while photography became a hobby. So, technically I still have the skills to be called a professional photographer, but I shoot for fun like an amateur. 

      Aside from the paid vs. unpaid distinction, the word amateur can imply that the person is inept at photography. For that reason, I like calling someone an aspiring photographer instead. Unless I don't like them, then they are definitely an amateur photographer.

    • I call myself an amateur photographer. I'm not sure my photos always have something to say - some are just nice images. I usually take a shot because I'm moved to do so by forces I can't explain - a desire to distill something into a simple 2D image, to strip away parts and reveal the essence of what I'm seeing. Does that make them art? I don't think art and capturing a scene need to be mutually exclusive.

    • I call myself a dilettante. The reason I really enjoy taking photographs is because I think there is nothing like the satisfaction in it when obtaining something worth re viewing and causing me to live the experience of places, people or things again, and sharing with others. I also enjoy greatly learning and understanding how to take nicer photo's under various conditions, whereas before I always used to get poor results even when camera was set to "Full Auto". And to paraphrase an off road riding instructor I once had, he told us how sorry he was for having lost his passion for rock climbing after he went professional instructor, his message was that a part of the inner passion is lost when he started doing it for profit. I don't know why that is but I can agree. And here is the paradox, does to a certain extent the activity of one getting so much better at knowledge and skills & equipment causes them to lose their passion since no further challenge exists? Or because of the stress to be a real "pro"?

    • There is this interesting perception that for something to be real "ART" it must say something, show something, more than just the a beautiful image of ink on the page or the pigments on the canvas. In essence, great art must have an agenda....

      I attended a display of 100 great photographs each with a 1-2 page printed text explaining why the image was so "great" according to art experts.

      I almost hesitate to point out that there are some artists who feel that an image than needs a long textual explanation really isn't that successful an image.

      If great "ART" needs to be explained to viewers, then the people writing the explanations have become more important than the artists creating the art, have they not? Or to quote from Rory Stewart in "The Marches". "What something meant: all the power lay with the people who could intepret the meaning of the pieces!" How condescending, to tell all viewers they need to have art intepreted for them by .............

      Just imagine, one might be able to duct tape a banana to a wall, and call it great art, and price it at $120,000 - Oh, that's right, that's all ready been done!!

      And here

      Like @Dracula, I am an amateur photographer, who photographs for the shear joy of being somewhere noteworthy, worth seeing and capturing, and I am not willing to do it poorly.

      I have seen the work of professional photographers, and painters, and most of them are superb practitioners. But like amateurs, they recruit from the human race, and some are not so fastidious.

      Less talk about tools and techniques, and messages; let me see the images and decide their value to me, for myself.

      I can buy bananas cheaply at Kroger's.

      I hesitate to point out that tools don't make artists, artists use tools to create art.

      I have many images shot with my iPhone that I find sucessful, and will print nicely at 16x20 - a size bigger than I often need. I have made a number of 16x20 images with point and shoot cameras - properly done, they can look gorgeous.

      I don't question an artist about the tools he/she uses. I want to see some of their creations.

      I never asked what hammers were used to build my house, or what wrenches were use to fabricate my cars...

    • After decades in museum administration, I have come to absolutely despise those interpretive labels. IMHO, those are the best tools for killing art.

    • I can appreciate texts that add relevant historical information.

      I, and most viewers, I submit, are not intimately aware of all the historical facts at the time of the creation of a specific work of art, and those can be of service to me, and to others, as a viewer. But that information is distinct from an opinion of the relevance or importance of the work being displayed

      A few years ago I attended an exhibition entitiled "Caravaggio and his Followers in Rome" at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. I found Caravaggio's images stellar then and still do today, even without an in depth understanding of 15th century Catholicism, or an art critics impressions. His use of light and shadow, and depth of field still resonate to my eye. This link is a bit over the top, but the book by the same name is fantastic

    • There is another angle to consider - the word professional itself. ...

      Aside from the paid vs. unpaid distinction, the word amateur can imply that the person is inept at photography.

      It's also important to note that being a professional doesn't necessarily mean you're a great photographer. You also need the business skills necessary to be successful making a living as a photographer, and in some cases that may even be more important than technical skills. Of all the photographers in existence, I'm certain there are at least as many photographers that don't get paid for their work that are just as good or better than those that do.

      The fact that they aren't making a living off of it doesn't mean their photography is less artistic or has less value. I don't really think it's that important to make the distinction between amateur and professional.

    • Your post brings back so many memories - I took a great college class decades ago called 'picturing people'. It was run as a 13-session night class by a professional. In the first week, we created a bunch themes - transportation, food, agriculture, and so on - and each week thereafter we had to shoot 10 slides on the theme, then show them in class the following week. The classroom time was devoted to screening all the images and discussing the merits of them together. I learned so much!

      The first thing I learned was that if you had to explain how the image fit the theme, you had failed in creating an image that evoked the theme. Period. I took that to heart and never forgot.

      Your banana share reminds me of one woman who was in the class - a young Asian woman. She missed most of the sessions - in fact I think she stopped coming by session 3 or so. I remember her because her images were completely off the wall - extremely creative, visually, but often nonsensical or bizarre with respect to the theme. I remember some images she shared for the theme of 'family'. One was a picture of her parents - the father was sitting on the couch, and the mother was wearing these thigh-high leather boots with high heels, as well as jeans and a normal shirt. She stood in front on her husband on one leg on the ground, and the other was up on the back of the couch near his ear, and he was looking up at her. It was like a family striptease, without the stripping, and the woman had no idea that was the connotation. In another picture, she showed a closeup of her father's pants, with the groin on the left, and on the right his pants pocket with a banana sticking out. I remember the class laughing with tears in their eyes, but her not understanding why.

      I loved that class. I also remember some people complaining I was cheating for using saturated slide film, which I (and the prof) thought was bizarre. Ektachrome E100 was my favourite for its warmth. BTW - it took me all afternoon today, but I got the Coolscan working. Now to figure out the settings.

    • Biggest difference is that Professional has to satisfy a job specification and meet the criteria for end use.

      Amateur has to satisfy the button pusher.

      I agree that business acumen is also one of the most important things for making a living from the gig. These days any schmuck with a $1500 camera and the smarts to shoot enough exposures is a good photographer.

    • Wow, that is a great color slide scan!

      When was this image shot or in other words, how many years has this slide aged before scanning? It looks like it was shot yesterday, if it was a sunny fall day where you live.

      I have always had the idea that the ability to be visually creative sometimes requires the ability to be totally unaware/ or unconcerned about other people's feelings. Kind or like the young lady you described.

      For me, one of the biggest advantages of being an "amateur" is that I do not have to photograph to meet someone else's vision - just my own, as good, or as bad as it may be.

    • My husband and I were looking at the Christmas cards we received this year and we could tell which ones had photos that were shot by professionals. They were taken in beautiful settings such as parks with beautiful light and color and everyone was smiling and arranged professionally. The families must have loved them because everyone looked their best but they were not our favorites.

      We liked the ones that had an assortment of funny and candid moments of family members doing things that meant a lot to them. They looked like regular phone photos under imperfect light but they revealed more about the families.

    • I'll post some more later in another thread so not to derail this one, but that one and most of the ones I've looked at today are from 2002-2004. They don't all have dates stamped on them. Some look less vibrant after scanning, actually - need to adjust the settings.

    • @Apocryphal brings up a great point. I took my turns teaching Art 101 and Humanities 101. That’s where people should learn and practice Interpreting art—not standing in front of an image in a museum reading a long label. By the time a visitor is standing in front of an image in a museum, s/he should either be discussing/sharing insights with the person(s) alongside, or having a “silent conversation” with the artist (so to speak) while searching/seeing the image. Great art is an amazing catalyst that way.

      I can appreciate how context can enlighten, but interpretation is such an individual thing—those are the insights best shared face-to-face. Even listening to a docent talk about the images can be notable. But slapping up a label that essentially tells a visitor what s/he is supposed to think when viewing a work of art is arrogant and haughty, IMO.

      Sorry—-I got a bit off-track there. (Pet peeve!) Ha.


      I wonder if these definitions of “amateur” and “professional” are no longer helpful or clear in ways they have been in the past. Perhaps these categories are being thrashed in the realm of art because the gig economy has hit The Creatives so hard...?


    • But slapping up a label that essentially tells a visitor what s/he is supposed to think when viewing a work of art is arrogant and haughty,

      That, to my mind, right there, is the pure definition of the certain dividing line between professionals and amateurs, which stands just as true for the "consumer" of art as it does for the creator of it. Perhaps the word "consumer" fits perfectly the persons who need explanations and value them, as a guide to spending their vast amounts of money only to station pieces of art in some high end personal living space, proudly displayed alongside their status quo. Just like the very interesting adventures of some of Banksy's pieces of art.. the word "amateur" can also take different meanings..

      Many artists died poor while their art only became famous posthumously. What does this say about art, it's quality and the underlying reasons for it, I wonder?!

    • I class myself as an Amateur Photographer, I rather like the Definision as per Wikipedia as below.


      An amateur, from French amateur "lover of", is generally considered a person who pursues a particular activity or field of study independently from their source of income. Amateurs and their pursuits are also described as popular, informal, self-taught, user-generated, DIY, and hobbyist.

      "Lover of", "Self-taught", DIY are all good ways todescibe my photogrpahy. While I do make some income from photography this is less than 2% of my income so far for able to support my familiy and myself.

      I've also partisipated in several photography competitions including a lot of professionals entering the competitions. The big one in 2017 was the Canon light awards where there were over 400 photographers may of whom were professionals making their living from photography. In that case I won the State competition. My aim for photography is that it becomes self sustaining that is I can buy my photography toys from the money I make from my photography. Like myself there are many Amateurs who do not make money or a living from their photography, but the quality of their work would match many professionals. I'm not sure judging the quaity of someones work is a judge of professional Vs Amateur.

      In a few years time I plan on retiring from Engineering, so photography would in theory be my only income outside of investments, so by changing work status I would in theory change my photography status as it would then become my main source of income thus becoming a professional without changing a skill set. interesting thought, so does that mean then that someone that picks up a camera and makes their income from it even if low income but their only income they are classed as a professional, I know people who class themself as professionals and make a living from it, but I wouldn't want to be deliving the images they are to clients.

      Maybe it needs to be based on accreditation from a recognised agency to give a status of professional. Interesting topic to think on. I still class myself as Amateur, though at times I'm starting to think of dropping that from my tag lines, I know a few professional photographers (people who have made there living from photography for many years) who still question why I call myself an amateur.