I have had the pleasure of meeting and communicating with some of the photography industry's BEST. Names like Gary Fong, Doug Gordon, Bruce Dorn, and others, and as brief as our encounters may have been, and while THEY might not even remember me, I always walked away with one thing. THESE GUYS ARE NORMAL! They are blue jeans and t-shirt kind of guys. Most are opinionated, and will be quick to say that their way is not the best or only way, but their way WORKS! Their tone has always been about education, making other photographers better, because "a rising tide lifts all boats." They understand that they started at the bottom and worked their way up.
So why is it that certain photographers nowadays think that THEIR WORD is gospel? I was listening to a well revered Florida Photographer, who refered to other photographers who were doing business the wrong way(illegal) as amateurs. It is THAT term that really burned me.
WHAT is an Amateur Photographer?
"Growing up" in the industry, I learned that there are three types of photographers. Hobbyists, Enthusiasts, and Professionals. The differences being that hobbyists are probably 90 percent of all those who own a camera. They have it just to capture memories and moments. They have never even thought of being on the cover of TIME, or LIFE magazines. If the word Amateur is going to its Latin roots to mean "lover of..." or someone who does it for free. This will be the true hobbyist. The enthusiast, which probably makes up about another 4-7 percent. These are those who LOVE photography, and are good at the visual image. They would not mind doing it as a profession, but have other jobs. If they can sell an image, they will be glad to, but they aren't leaving their day job anytime soon. The rest are your PROFESSIONALS, they do it day in, and day out. This is how they make their living. Often there are a lot of growing pains, because there are little "valuable" resources available to them as far as the industry is concerned. The best resource is often OTHERS in your industry that are doing what you want to do. But when we as photographers, look down on those entering our industry, do we really help our industry?
Before we pass judgement on the ignorant, let's try to educate. I hear so many ramblings about the "Craig's List" Wedding Photographer, but the reality is that while we share a market, do you really share a client? Do I really want a client who is investing $15,000 of their hard-earned money, but is going to trust that to a $400 photographer, OR is it my duty to educate the customer on the pros and cons of BOTH decisions and let the client realize that price and quality go hand in hand? Our duty is to educate new photographers, not criticize them.