Pro, Prosumer and Amateur

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A few weeks ago, I tried the pre-paid mailer service purchased at B&H serviced by A&I. The roll was from my Mamiya, which I have always pronounced as mam-eye-ya but have since found out could very well be ma-mee-ya. The delay in mailing across the country, processing and back was painful. Especially when I walk by Duggal on the way to work which as far as I can tell does fantastic work! Opening the envelope returned a rush of excitement you get from hanging a freshly developed strips of negatives. You scan them with a flashlight as they dry, hunting for the images you remembered to be special. While the prints are not made to match the 6×7 ratio, the 4.5×6 prints make for friendly proofs.

Claw foot

Reviewing the negatives has me watching film scanner prices on ebay. Good ones are expensive and add one more thing to the equipment pile. It is hard for me to justify for anything beyond the love of my art. If I had a stable flow of income from photography, it would be a simpler decision. That said I am not sure I want to be a commercial photographer. Scott Kelby featured Syl Arena as a guest blogger a couple of weeks ago. Syl listed twelve things he did not learn in photo school. The last resonated with me most…

12. Resist the temptation to become a pro photographer.
The true meaning of “amateur” is “someone who works for the love of it rather than for money”. Choosing to remain an amateur photographer is no measurement of your skill or commitment to the craft. The photo world is filled with unskilled professionals. Thinking that you want to be a pro shooter because you really love photography is absolutely the worst reason to get into the business. I guarantee you, if a love for photography is your main motivation, the economic realities of the industry today will pound your passion into the ground. If, however, your inner voice continues to shout “this is what I want to do” after your passion has been beat out of you, then you are truly hearing the call to the trade. Let me be the first to say “welcome” and “I’m here to help”.

Consider that Prosumer is what marketers have coined to capture professional consumers that want more than “amateur” equipment but cannot afford or rationalize the purchase of professional equipment. Prosumer emphasizes the consumer, not how professional they are. While equipment is certainly part of the recipe, everyone knows they are but the paintbrush and the paint. Given my primary employment does not flow from my photography, I embrace the title of amateur.