It can be a fine line, but maybe you’ve been wondering what differentiates a professional photographer from an amateur. Is it the equipment? Is it the hours? Perhaps it’s a skill set or knowledge the one has but not the other. We break down the major difference between the two, and perhaps you’ll know where to classify yourself!

  • Freedom v. Structure
  • Generally speaking, an amateur photographer has much more artistic freedom than a professional. A professional’s lifestyle is much more structured; they don’t get to pick and choose the times and places they take pictures. Regardless of the conditions, they have to take the pictures and come back with a product for their clients. Someone who is just doing it for a hobby will shoot primarily just for fun!

  • Strategy and Sales
  • Professional photographers spend time planning the shoot, talking to the clients or models, as well as time marketing their business. To be a professional photographer, you must have some strategy to sell your product, some sort of selling skills. Having a marketing plan is an essential aspect to being a professional photographer, whereas an amateur isn’t pressed to sell anything.

  • Investing Time, Money
  • Amateurs invest money not necessarily expecting to see any return on investment. Their concerns are just the return of pleasure that comes from taking pictures. Usually, if one of their pieces happens to sell, it is just a bonus. Professionals have many necessary expenses to take into account such as equipment, technology, transportation and photography equipment insurance for it all. Once those things are factored in, they can more accurately calculate their ROI.

  • Paying Bills
  • Perhaps the most obvious difference in professional photographers and amateurs is that amateurs aren’t doing it for a living. The pros depend on selling their work and booking clients to pay their bills! An amateur will simply have this a a hobby, and even if they do profit from this hobby, it will not sustain their lifestyle.

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