Thoughts: Being an amateur means… worse?

I took this long exposure photo during sunrise on Fuerteventura island.

Yes, I’m an amateur photographer and I’m happy about that. For many people being a good photographer requires being a professional. You need to behave like a pro (and talk all that buzzwords some of which I don’t really understand), have the best pro equipment and so on. It makes you better in their eyes. Ok, I do use nice equipment but I’m not buying a new camera because of it’s pro features. I buy one when I feel that current model used by me stops me from taking certain shots.

All this is because amateur for many means lacking skills or knowledge. But in fact it doesn’t need to be that way. Professional might also mean photographer who actually works as a photographer.

For me photography is a hobby, passion maybe. I really like capturing moments and presenting them to the wider audience over the web (or in any other form). Do I have skills? Well, I don’t think I’m the right person to answer this question, I’ll let you judge. But I definitely do have some knowledge and especially the need to improve my works. Every time I take a photo I learn something new. I make mistakes but next time I will be stronger because I will know how to avoid them.

For me photography is also a way to express myself. It means much to me as I can show others the way I see the world, how I perceive different things, phenomena etc. Being a technical person most of the time (I’m computer programmer for more than 15 years now… despite being 25 🙂 ) I really feel the need to show the others different part of my nature. Programmers are often considered geeks but I try to prove this wrong: one way of doing so is photography. You can be technical and artistic person at the same time. Nothing strange or wrong with that.

Moreover, I don’t want photography to became my profession because I’m pretty sure I would soon become tired with it and therefore loose passion and drive to find something new in it. It was the same thing with video game development for me. I was really passionate about it up to the moment when I started creating video games for a living. And I soon became tired and fed up with them. One more thing about work (profession) is that if you spend several hours a day on your assignments you won’t have much free time for your personal projects. And in photography I don’t want to have no time for my own ideas. I love shooting photos in my own way, choosing my subjects and destinations on my own. I love full control over what I do and how I do it. Even if you own a company you don’t have such control because it is the market and customer’s needs that control it then.

Finally for me being amateur doesn’t mean being worse than professional (but it doesn’t mean better either). In fact one of the definitions of the amateur word is following:

Amateur – a person who is fond of or admires something

Yes, I am fond of photography and yes I do admire it. Given that definition, professional photographer can be amateur at the same time. In fact he should be to create stunning works. Otherwise being a professional would just mean working as a photographer what isn’t the same as great photographer.

2017-01-17T19:42:59+00:00 December 11th, 2012|Posted in: Canary Islands, fuerteventura, landscape, long-exposure, thoughts|
  • Jim Nix

    totally agree, much better to be an “amateur” and shoot whatever you want, when you want to shoot it, and process it however you like -lots of folks want to make a living out of photography, but that means they are taking portraits and shooting weddings, which are two things I do not like to shoot – nice write up!

  • Udo Krekt

    I agree with you on this Wojciech, it would probably have the same effect on me. But i would like to add that there is a middle way. Doing freelance work or small projects every once in a while, does not make you a professional and is not going to pay enough to make a living off, but it gives you all the freedom to do what you want. I have the intention of working my skills up to a point where i can start doing some freelance work of some sort. 1 day of the week next to my current job. It could at least contribute to buying a new lens for example.

  • Larry Neel

    Wojc, it is unfortunate the word “amateur” has developed such a negative connotation over the years. The quality of your work is certainly better than “amateur” in any context – perhaps “photo artist” would more accurately describe you in your present stage. You are an “artist” because not only have you achieved skills and outputs worthy of the title, you remain free to pursue your artistic vision and answer only to your own artistic standards. The sales will come (or already come, of course) when you have successfully created a certain sensibility in your work – when a fan can recognize a “Wojchiech Toman” by its qualities unique to your vision and technique. Sometimes building that sensibility takes longer than we have patience for – but it will come, especially given your technical brilliance. So… “Photo artist” or “fine art photographer” – let someone else struggle with the conundrum “amateur” vs. “pro”… You are so past caring.

  • Wojciech Toman

    Thank you guys for your response