Professional Photographers Primary Source of Income is Photography. The biggest myth in photography is based on the old age question, “What’s the difference between a professional and an amateur photographer?” Normally the number one answer is “a professional gets paid, an amateur does not.” Then there are those that claim in order to hold the title, “professional photographer” the photographer’s primary source of livelihood income is earned 100 percent through photography, otherwise they are not a professional photographer. Bullshit.photography myths model photo

The amount of money one makes, or primary source of income, doesn’t earn them the title of being called professional, their ability to execute their profession with accuracy and consistency does and this usually comes from knowledge and experience, not income. In fact, many “artists” in various genres will tell you, if you’re coming into an artistic profession for money, you’re coming in for the wrong reasons — starving artists do exist. Earning professionalism titles usually starts with a passion and desire to learn, not earn.

I know a professional wedding photographer in Texas whose day job, and sometimes night job, is a cardiothoracic surgeon that earns him well over $550,000 per year and to make that income, he attended four years of college, four years of medical school, five years of general residency, and three years in a specialized cardiothoracic fellowship — 15 years of education for a typical heart surgeon and he still must take continuing education annual courses to maintain his proficiency.

photography myths model photoWhile he makes great money shooting weddings and is in high demand, he’d have to shoot at least 100 weddings, at a $5,500 profit per wedding, per year, to replace his income as a heart surgeon. Now let’s supposed he’s so good at wedding photography he only shoots 50 weddings per year and makes a $12,000 profit per wedding and now earns an annual income of $600,000; do we revoke his medical license and say he no longer is a professional heart surgeon and you can only call him an intern?

Let’s look at this another way. This cardiothoracic surgeon spent 15 years in training and education just to earn the title of a heart surgeon, how many years of college does it take to earn the title of being called a professional photographer? In most cases, none, though an educated photographer has a greater chance at success in their photography because supposedly they make higher-educated decisions.

How many professional photographers would lose the ability to put professional before photography if a law was passed that required a professional photographer must at least have a four-year Bachelors of Arts degree or a Masters in Fine Art? Think about it; the total number of professional photographers in our country would instantly be cut at least in half or more, perhaps even if the requirement was a two-year Associates degree.

I’m not saying photographers are uneducated, I’m saying it doesn’t take a college degree to hold the title of professional photographer, simply because anyone can claim they are a professional in many things without college requirements and photography is one of those professions right along with professional bottle washers at your local restaurant.

While I’m a firm believer that all professionals should get paid for their talents, in reality, the real difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is that the professional photographer knows what makes a great image, and those are the only photos a professional will show you, while an amateur will show you practically everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly because they’re still learning what makes a great photo.

Now that we’ve waded through the most bullshit myth about photography, I direct you to all the photography tips on SUNBOUNCE, worth every minute and while it might not earn you the title of professional photographer, it will make you a more educated photographer and becoming professional at anything in life starts with education followed by experience, and that’s no BS.

For the record, I do have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and photography is a form of visual communication, but my degree doesn’t make me professional, my knowledge, training and experience along with the execution of professional photography results does.


Rolando Gomez is a professional photographer and author of five photography books that has traveled to 45 countries for assignments. The former soldier and U.S. Army combat photographer has taught hundreds of photography workshops for almost two decades. A 2016 and 2017 Top Writer for Quora, his partial credits include Newsweek, Parade, Playboy, Rangefinder, Maxim, Rangefinder, New York Times, Stars & Stripes, and various other publications. You can find more of his work on AmericanoDream.com.  
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