By Roger (16 February 2015)
In the dictionary, the word “amateur” has several definitions; the primary definition is: “a person who engages in a study or other activity for pleasure, rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons.” Yet, as we journey down the other uses of the word, we find the one many seem to think is the first meaning: “a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity.” I hope you'll embrace the primary definition and the “correct” use of amateur.
Most people who love photography will never make a living from it. You may get a little money, now and then, when someone offers to hire you or buy one of your prints, but you probably aren't going to recoup the expense of your gear or post-processing software. (Don't even get me started on the value of your time.) However, “Amateur Photographer” seems to be a less-than-glorious title for what most of us do.
I'd love to lead all the (Hobby?) photographers in a great movement to recapture the true meaning of amateur and give it back the respect it deserves in the language. Will you agree to join me? Can we get everyone together, say next weekend, and start this international movement? Hello??? Yeah, probably not. ;-)
Do we need a title that embraces our love for photography and let's the world know we are serious about our work? You can find lots of them out there, but do they fit you? Visual artist seems a bit pretentious. Part-time photographer doesn't seem to effectively convey the dedication with which we pursue our passion. Freelance photographer sounds dashing and mysterious, but most freelancers, actually, are trying to make a living, so it doesn't really fit.
This drive to differentiate serious, but mostly unpaid, photographers from “professionals” seems pretty silly when you write it down in words. We've all seen plenty of amateurs who consistently demonstrate their professionalism in techniques and quality photography.
Yet, for some people – many who own and use camera gear – this matters. Too often, these are the same people who are serious when they bad-mouth any camera equipment that doesn't match their own. My recommendation is to avoid this whole scene. Why waste your time arguing about this stuff when you should be out pushing the shutter button?
As always, I'm into photography for enjoyment and to improve my techniques. I am a photographer. Period. Come on out, and shoot with us. We don't care about whether you're an amateur or beginning a new career, as long as we're all having fun.