Do you call yourself a professional?

I’ll come right out and say it; I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a professional photographer.  I am starting to feel like I’m at a crossroads, though.  My new website is about to go live, and one of the factors driving this redesign is my desire to reach a wider audience (and sell prints).  To that end, I think it’s important that I present myself and my work in a professional manner.

This isn’t a money play, because if it were, it would be about as smart as playing the lotto.  No, this is more about my growth as an artist.

Without question, I pursue photography for myself.  It’s an outlet for my creative energy.  It’s the way I connect with the natural world.  But, if I’m honest with myself, I also seek a certain amount of validation and appreciation for my work.  If I’m creating art, which I like to believe I am, I would like to earn the respect of my peers, and it brings a certain amount of satisfaction when someone tells me, “I’d like to hang that on my wall.”

Which leads me back to my original question; should I call myself a professional?  Do I need to sell a certain number of prints to justify this designation?  Is it simply a matter of handling myself in a professional manner – following a code of ethics?  Must I earn my living through photography?

Certainly, one should be proficient at their craft if they call themselves a professional.  I suppose this is the question that I ask myself, and it is the question that I struggle to answer.  Am I skilled enough to call myself a professional? If the answer to that question is a cautious “yes”, it seems appropriate to wear this designation with confidence.  After all, I do spend considerable time and energy in this endeavor.  I approach photography with a passion and seriousness that is no different than the way I run my small business (which happens to be in a completely unrelated field).

Ultimately, I suppose it doesn’t matter what I call myself.  Serious hobbyist?  Advanced Amateur?  Occasional Pro?  None of these names have any bearing on the visual impact of my images (they shouldn’t, at least).  I am motivated to make compelling images, plain and simple.  I will continue to work towards this goal, and eventually, I hope the answers to these questions will become clear.

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One Response to Do you call yourself a professional?

  1. steve says:

    once you sell something your a professional. When you sell a lot people will say, “well yeah, but he’s a professional.” After you dead they will be worth real money.

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