The popularity that a photographer can win depends, most of times, on his experience. This experience is often determined by a “to be or not to be”.
To be or not to be professional, that’s the question!
Photography is an art, and as an art it expresses a message and feelings, that not always have to be understood by all of us. It can happen that they won’t be understood in the way that the photographer himself felt and saw in the moment he took his shot. To talk about professionalism into the art world is a nonsense. Having a title doesn’t mean that you are qualified to be an artist. Besides, it is absurd to talk about “better” or “worse” photographer. Even talking about “better” or “worse” is absurd. Each masterpiece it is so, and each person feels it in a different way. It is the mystery of art, the beauty of it, the special thing about it, the uniqueness that cannot be cataloged or classified, nor indexed, nor fit into the words of “professionalism”.
So, what is the difference between a professional photographer and an amateur one?
If you care so much about that differentiation, please take a look to a photo of each of those supposed-existing categories. Then choose the one that makes you feel more, the one that transmits you more. That one will be the photo of “your” professional. Happy? In this way we have a professional, a person whose photos we can fell are “good” ones.
Can you grasp the absurdity of it? Let’s make another experiment. Put two photos one beside another one. One from a photographer with more than 10 years of experience, and another one from a beginner that has just bought a reflex.
Could you tell me which one is the “professional”?
If we enter into the technical parameters like illumination, sharpness, etc, we can determine who of the two knows more about theory and technical parameters. But if we talk about art, the truth is that those have no meaning. Even the years of experience have no meaning. It only matters which of the two photos is transmitting you a feeling, which one is making you see something beyond the mere image. Be careful because this only happens into our minds, our souls, and it may happen that the person beside you that is looking at the same pictures, thinks that the other photo is the one that transmits more feelings, or even that person can tell you that none of them are artistic.
For that reason we cannot allow this “to be or not to be” to darken and influence our sensitivity when we are appreciating a photo.
Personally I think that a professional is that person that can make, in the best way possible and with the less amount of errors, something that can be defined as “correct” or not. For example, in a wedding, an amateur photographer will hardly obtain the same results as one that has been covering weddings for several years. Here the experience influences. But, beware! The experience doesn’t influence in artistic terms. The experience influences the technical terms. Do you think that to shot a wedding is easy? It’s not! The strength you need during several hours carrying all the equipment, to ignore the sweat, to be uncomfortable or the difficulty of the poses that you have to do to be able to take the shoot, while you try to avoid obstacles and hundreds of other parameters to be able to shoot the moment. Time is running against you, and a second before or after will determine the whole in a wedding. To be able to treat people correctly, to know how to relax the main characters of this event to be able to take part of the photographic game. You have to be able to turn normal people into models for some hours. To be able to achieve this you need experience and professionalism.
In other words, we shouldn’t mistake the words. To be a professional doesn’t mean to be a “better” artist. To be a professional implies that you know how to act efficiently and without errors in a certain landscape, in which its nature dictates the rules that might be followed. Weddings, models, war documentaries, mass media, publicity, etc. You cannot learn it into the books, only with time.
Every professional can be an artist, but not every artist has to be a professional.