Last week I wrote a blog post on my '5 Top Tips to Becoming a Professional Photographer' , I also addressed the idea that I don't really know when you earn the title & become a 'professional photographer'. This week I'm giving my thoughts on what it means to be an amateur photographer and what exactly the title means to me.
The term 'Amateur' over the years has become even more demeaning, so many people including amateurs themselves, relate the term amateur to 'newbie' 'second rate' and 'poor quality'. Do not always assume amateur photography must always be inferior to professional photography or spend your time envying professional photographers. Embrace the skill set, freedom and equipment you have to hand.
Amateurs can achieve the most creative shots
I personally valued my time as a amateur photographer and I still regard amateurs and hobbyists with high opinions today. I've never made the conscious decision to become a professional nor did I ever assume I had become one, at heart I'm still the amateur photographer.
I still have the enormous passion and motivation to create photographs that came about when I first stepped foot in college. As a 'professional' now I know the hidden advantages of being a amateur, I had every piece of equipment to hand, thanks to college & university, I had the freedom to capture what and when I wished. I experimented with my photographs and subjects, took risks and changed my technique without any concern of timescales and budgets.
So becoming a professional doesn't mean you have to give up your creativity or the need to experiment. My approach to photography hasn't changed, I just have to cap how many risks I can take with my work. The truth is once you use photography as your main source of income, other people become involved, mainly your family and clients. You need to earn money to cover the lifestyle you lead and you also need to create images for the clients & briefs.
As an amateur the best route you can take is use every tool accessible to you to create your own projects. You can pick and choose the work you create, you can jump from genre to genre, you can capture images with a Nikon D5 one day and a Cannon 5D the next either through education or hiring equipment. If you explore photography and keep developing your skills there is no doubt by the time you come out the other end you will have a portfolio full of more creative and unique imagery than most professional photographers out there.
Your Digital Footprint
One piece of advice I share on a regular basis, is to always think about your digital footprint. Your digital footprint is the mark you leave on digital and social media platforms. This is something I would advise all amateur photographers out there to take 5 minutes to think about.
Every time you post an image on Facebook, update your website, upload on Instagram and write a blog post it builds up your mark on the internet. Your audience will start to build a vision of your brand, even if you're an amateur, so make sure your work is consistent throughout. I can guarantee unless you spell it out, many of your audience will already assume your working as a professional photographer. When or if you decide to make the transition having a consistent digital footprint and branding will make it a seamless transition for you and your audience.
Sure you can easily delete all the those selfies you posted on Instagram and the horrible watermarks you pasted across your Facebook Uploads, but your audience will loose faith and more than likely stop viewing your work, so keep in mind your digital footprint when starting out on social media and the internet.
What do you enjoy most about being an amateur photographer? How did the transition from amateur to professional happen for you ?