I have spent countless hours pondering this and asking myself which category I would fall into. I don't consider myself to be a professional by any means as I have a college degree but it is in no way relevant to photography. But on the other hand, photography has been a passion of mine for over 20 years. My father loved photography and always had very expensive equipment and took pictures by the hundreds everywhere we went. But it was his hobby, not his profession. I have 3 older sisters and every one of them have expensive cameras and enjoy photography as a hobby. I still remember when my dad bought me my first Kodak camera for my 13th birthday and I was in seventh heaven. I had no clue what I was doing, but I knew that I loved taking pictures.
All these years since, I have snapped and snapped and snapped. And I have studied and studied and studied. I didn't wake up one day and consider myself a pro by any means. I just knew that I loved capturing art through my eyes. And when I reviewed my pictures I considered them more artsy than just snapshots.
I have always shared my pictures or "art" as I consider it with my web friends. Pretty soon I had people asking me to shoot their senior portraits or their weddings or their belly bumps or baby showers. So I soon found myself buying all the equipment I needed to facilitate these requests and upgrading from digital to DSLR. I have a fully equipped photo studio in the downstairs of my home and I buy goodies and gadgets every chance that I get.
It is just a difficult place when you don't know where you stand. I was shocked when I found out I could make stock and I am still quite new at this. I have struggled to find my niche. But do I love taking pictures? Yes. Do I get paid for taking pictures? Yes. Do I have requests for my photography? Yes, constantly. Does that make me a professional? Um, no. At least not in the way that I would consider a professional, educated and highly experienced. But I also know that I am more than just an average Joe uploading a cute digital pic to a stock sight. I know that I work hard for every image I take. I know that I spend hours every day working on my photography and that this is my only job other than being a mother.
So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. And on one hand I understand that people who have spent countless years studying this craft don't want to see the average Joe jump in and get just as much credit. Yet on the other hand I think that a complete novice still might have something wonderful to offer as no two persons eyes will see things quite the same.
People who buy photos are going to pour over these pics and the reality is that you might have 1000 photos and I might have only 25 and they still might buy my picture anyhow. It isn't because I want to take anything away from anyone else. It is simply because I want to feel my passion and do what I love which happens to be photography. I absolutely consider myself a newbie. But I also consider myself to be totally viable. And just think for a moment, every time that someone searches a photo that is relevant to one of yours, it gives your picture a greater chance at exposure. And if you are a professional, you likely have a leg up.