I have been shooting photographs for over twenty years. For most of that time I was a film photographer developing my own photos using a darkroom. The cost to produce images worth selling is astronomical and creating a high quality image worth selling is extremely time consuming. Therefore, I never was able to sell images. With the advent of the digital age came cameras that can produce high quality images in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Now I can sell my images digitally here on DT and via other digital means.
That being said, what qualifies a photographer is a professional? Is it their quality? I have seen some bad photos by so called professionals. Is it the length of time someone has been taking pictures? Some professionals have very little time behind the camera but have become successful. Do you have to sell your images to be considered worthy of the title? My mentor has been shooting for well over thirty years and never sold a print and I would call her a pro. Do you have to make it your sole career? Many of us Dreamtimers have regular day jobs and use this site to promote our work and make a little cash and I bet many of us would call ourselves professionals. Does some sort of formal recognition qualify you such as being published in a magazine with credit?
At what point is it no longer a hobby? Creating my own website, selling images on DT, being contracted to shoot pictures and having a dedication to the craft are all qualities that make me worthy of the title of professional. The separation of hobby and dedication to a craft is what earns the title whether you sell your work or not, whether it's your day job or your job after you clock out for the day. As we all know there is a sea of great photographers and many of us will never make this our sole career but we still can call ourselves professional. It can't be a single trait or a sum of all these things that makes us a pro. This topic is as subjective to opinion as our photographs. What makes one photo great is in the eye of the beholder and what makes one a professional is as well.