Who is a Photographer?
Or better put, at what point do you consider yourself to be a “professional” photographer?
While there is no hard and fast rule about what qualifies you to be called a professional photographer, a general assumption is that 100% of your income must come from photography.
This is a flawed assumption, particularly if we use our dear country Nigeria as a case study. For a jobless individual who manages to lay his hands on an entry-level DSLR camera, goes uninvited to “Owambe” parties on Saturdays (and the odd ones that fall on weekdays) and sells unsolicited instant prints of pictures taken of guests at these parties for N200 (60 cents). Of course, he does earn 100% of his income from photography. But does that make him a professional photographer?
Most photographers in Nigeria are victims of circumstance who only see photography as just a meal ticket. With little to no skills, you will shudder when you realize that a lot of them shoot using “auto” settings of their cameras while blinding you with their on-camera flash.
I believe a professional photographer does not have to earn 100% of his living from photography. He does not have to earn a dime from it. For me, a professional photographer must have graduated from being a keen hobbyist – and not necessarily under anybody’s tutelage. I know very good photographers who still have a 9 to 5 and only do photography gigs weekends.
One other thing – While the fanciest cameras do not necessarily make you a better photographer, it sure does help. I shoot primarily with a Sony A7iii and a 28-75mm f/2.8 Tamron lens, it will be delusional for anyone with a Nikon d3300 and a kit lens (which I also own by the way) to think he can take better pictures than I can, even if I were a newbie.
So if you want to be called a professional photographer, look the part. Get a professional camera!