The One Thing That Makes You A Professional Photographer

Its probably one of the hottest topics online when it comes to the photography profession:

The differences between amateurs and professionals

Is there truly a difference? Do you need something special to move from one to the other? And is it truly possible to make a living as a professional photographer with amateurs filling up the marketplace for part time work?

Right here on this blog we’ve discussed this concept again and again.

Dig Deeper: The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

Dig Deeper: What A Pro Captures Versus What an Amateur Shoots

Dig Deeper: How To Lose A Million Dollars in 3 Seconds

I just found a video that touches on this very topic. Michael Freeman says it in the simplest way possible:

Professional photography means making a living from it.

Can’t argue with that.

And if you are currently making a living from it, or have been dreaming of the day you can drop everything else, and spend all your time at photography, it may mean that you look at things a bit different.

Because the one thing we can always depend on is change.

Things will never stay the same. We’re always in a state of change, moving from one thing to the next. And now more than ever, change is hurling at us at light speed.

It’s Progress

I attended a presentation last night, and we spoke quite a bit about change and what it means to us. And the presenter said one thing that stuck in my mind:

Progress is harder than regress. It’s always easy to fall back into old patterns and comfort zones. Change is hard.

Yep, and that clearly defines the photography industry at the moment. (Okay, maybe it actually describes most industries at the moment.)

It’s easy to fall back on the old ways of photography. We already have patterns and plans for that. Its easy to use film cameras, print up proofs, and hand over a stack of images to the client. It’s easy to shoot portraits, weddings and commercial work, and charge what we did in the past. It’s easy to expect a contract for stock work, and make a comfortable living with editorial images.

But that is no longer reality.

Instead, the entire photographic marketplace is being redefined. At no other time are images more in demand than they are right now. We’re a visual society, and that is only going to increase with the tools, technology and capabilities that we have in place.

So instead of looking at photography in the old ways, its time to think of something new.

How can you create a professional photography studio that caters to today’s clientele?

How can you offer things they want, and get paid a great living for it?

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

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We're the co-founders of and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • Belinda McCarthy

    ‘Today’s clientele’ is incredibly diverse. I think the key is finding a niche demographic which you appeal to and excel at delivering to, and making that your own. Don’t try and be all things to all people.

  • Benjamin Weatherston

    Very true. Change is the only constant. I recently wrote a blog about how you can’t just try to make more money if you’re not going to cut back on your expenses. I know it sounds backwards but amateurs buy crazy amounts of gear and pros know how to work with what they have. You won’t last if you don’t know how to keep more of the money you earn.