Professional vs. Amateur Photographers  Choosing a photographer | Novice to Expert | Photography Skills TableChoosing a photographer | Novice to Expert | Photography Skills TablePhotography | Novice to Expert
Compare Skill - Hire the Best | Choosing a photographer
Group | Skill | Associated Risks | Risk Likelihood | Quality of Results | Professional Fee
Skills Base Table

Further info at "Best Photographers"

The main difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is that a professional makes a living from photography, while an amateur does not.

Some say this means that professionals have a higher level of skill and experience, as well as access to better equipment and resources. However, there are many amateur photographers who produce stunning images, and there is no reason why an amateur photographer cannot become a professional if they are dedicated and talented.

Here is a more detailed look at some of the key differences between professional and amateur photographers:

  • Skill and experience: Professionals have a higher level of skill and experience than amateurs. They have spent years honing their craft, and they have a deep understanding of the technical aspects of photography. This allows them to take consistently good photos, even in challenging conditions.
  • Equipment: Professionals have access to better equipment than amateurs. They use high-end cameras, lenses, and lighting equipment, which gives them more control over their images.
  • Resources: Professionals have access to more resources than amateurs. They can hire models, assistants, and location scouts. They can also afford to pay for expensive post-production services.
  • Clientele: Professionals work with a variety of clients, including businesses, magazines, and individuals. They are able to charge higher rates for their work, which allows them to make a living from photography.

Despite these differences, there are many amateur photographers who produce stunning images. There is no reason why an amateur photographer cannot become a professional if they are dedicated and talented. Here are some tips for aspiring professional photographers:

  • Practice regularly: The more you practice, the better you will become at photography.
  • Learn the technical aspects of photography: There are many resources available to help you learn about the technical aspects of photography. Books, magazines, online courses, and workshops can all be helpful.
  • Experiment with different styles and techniques: There is no right or wrong way to take photos. Experiment with different styles and techniques to find your own unique voice.
  • Build a portfolio: A portfolio is a collection of your best work. It is a great way to show potential clients what you can do.
  • Network with other photographers: Networking with other photographers is a great way to learn new things and get feedback on your work.
  • Don't give up: It takes time and effort to become a professional photographer. Don't give up on your dreams.

Amateurs vs Pros, my thoughts

"To be good you have to love photography, but to love photography you don't have to be good!" This isn't about pro vs. amateur, it’s about who or what suits your requirements by comparison. My own photography is always an exercise in results and couldn't be much more from the heart, on many occasions my images aren’t always accurate! I’m continually looking to improve outcomes, polish technique and move up the levels.

Amateur photographers rank just as highly as the pros, the difference being that the amateur doesn’t seek financial recognition or have a business model associated with their photography. To hear an interesting debate on the topic, Tony & Chelsea Northrup pick some holes and bounce some opinions around in their Picture This Podcast at  What Makes a Photographer or Camera "Pro"?

Every decision-making process produces a final choice, bottom line, choosing a photographer who is going to work out in your best interest is different for every couple getting married, budget and expectations play a key role in the final outcome. What's perfect for some will not be perfect for others.

What defines a professional photographer? Does pro insinuate skill or quality?

Worth a mention, for the sake of argument, I use the term professional photographer loosely, in reality, being a pro doesn't automatically mean you are an amazing photographer. Looking back, it used to be so straightforward in the past; your wedding and photo-journalistic photographer would be considered the professionals of the day. Nowadays there are much more variables in-play, so it makes it difficult to nail down. Bizarrely enough, even skill level is subjective; a photographer can be unskilled yet still be professional.

There’s a lot of feeling behind the word professional, for the purposes of this table, the concise answer is referring to those photographers that are shooting with someone else’s needs in mind, skill level being only one factor amidst several other influences.

Every private or business venture has its budgetary limitations; at some time, someone somewhere will require the service of the novice photographer. As long as risks are recognised and acknowledged on both sides, no harm in that! If we assume overall price is the influence, then there is a non-skilled or skilled photographer for everyone’s budget!

Finding the best photographers, match your budget or expectation with this helpful comparison table by John Gilchrist.