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Proud To Be A Hobbyist Photographer: Reasons NOT To Go PRO

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Proud To Be a Hobbyist Photographer: Reasons NOT To Go PRO

This article is by Mandi Tremayne. She writesI have been a follower of the MCP blog for several years now.  I like to call myself a “craptacular photog hobbyist”.  I’ve been thinking on the subject lately of amateur photographer/hobbyist vs. (true) professional photographer.  I live in an area that is heavily saturated with real photographers and then “photographers.” And I guess I’ve noticed more and more how everyone is a “photographer” these days.

So this has been on my mind a lot, and I wrote a bit about it from the perspective of a hobbyist.

jamisonresize Proud To Be A Hobbyist Photographer: Reasons NOT To Go PRO Guest Bloggers MCP Thoughts Photography Tips

Everyone’s a “Photographer”

I consider myself to be a memory keeper, of sorts.  I love to journal, but especially, I love pictures.  I consider myself a “picture freak”.

Pictures, to me, hold pieces of everyone’s past; they are something to be treasured.  I love my grandparents pictures from the 50’s, my parents pictures from the 70’s, and my own growing up as a child of the 80’s (bad hair and all).

It was several years ago when I first started blogging, that I noticed that there was something so much more out there with photography: there are pictures, and then there’s fine art photography. I was so jealous of every true professional photographers’ work. And that was when I decided I needed to learn more, andI bought my first DSLR and a decent lens.

A “decent” camera does not make a professional photographer

In the first 6 months with me and my DSLR, I nearly tore my hair out.  I would compare my photos to professionals, and I could clearly see the huge gap between my work and theirs.  How can I have the same camera and lens
and not get the same quality?

I read everything I could get my hands on, and I still do.

As I slowly started to improve, people started to say things like “oh you should go into business!” and that seemed like the logical next step to me.  I own a decent camera, I’m starting to learn to the right way to use it:  business time!

This is when I learned several extremely important lessons.

  1. I do not have a business mind
  2. I don’t want to have a business mind
  3. Photography as a business takes the fun away for me
  4. I don’t handle the pressure of performing for other people well
  5. I am simply not good enough, and I found myself being one of those “photographers” that over-saturate an area and provide less than quality work
  6. And most importantly, I meant this as a hobby.  I can keep it as just a hobby.  Nothing more, nothing less.

sienna7-2edresize Proud To Be A Hobbyist Photographer: Reasons NOT To Go PRO Guest Bloggers MCP Thoughts Photography Tips

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Now I’ve realized that I can enjoy studying and appreciating true photographer’s work (like the 50+ truly professional photographer blogs I follow) and feel zero competition.  I can appreciate their work in an artistic sense, and also as a hobbyist who knows I’ve got a long way to go and isn’t completely ignorant of what it took for them to get where they are.  And that makes me appreciate their work all the more.

I feel like I can buy things for myself, here and there- a new lens, actions, and so forth, because it’s my hobby, and it’s something I care deeply about.  Like any hobby, you can put money into something without strings attached that you must recoup what you’ve spent.  Why? The fun I’ve had learning, plus the learning I know I still have to go, makes the journey completely worth it.

So you love photography, too.  Ask yourself, do you love photography or a photography business?

I’ll bet for many of us, the journey of learning, the fun of taking our camera everywhere we go, snapping those one in a million shots of our kids, and the newfound love for things we used to ignore like a beautiful sky or the gorgeous lighting that sunset offers, is more than enough.

Mandi Tremayne is a hobbyist photographer – you can find her here – on her “NOT a photography blog.”

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No Comments

  1. Dana-from chaos to Grace on November 1, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! It was spot on! Just because you HAVE a great camera, or a “professional” camera, does NOT mean you **HAVE** to go into business! And from what I have seen of a lot of people, they really, really shouldn’t.It truly is an ART, but not every painter sells their work. My Grandmother was a very accomplished painter, however, she never ever sold her work. She gave it away to family and friends.I myself struggle with the business side of photography and I’m wondering if this should be just a hobby, or should I continue on in the pursuit of a true business. I’m not business-minded, I am ART-minded.WONDERFUL read today! Thank you!

  2. Karen Cupcake on November 1, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Love this post!

  3. analia palmer on November 1, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I LOVE this!!! Wow, I feel like she was writing how I feel many time! I love photography, but like she said, I don’t think I love the business. I have many, many people asked me to photograph their family, baby, or whatever they needed, but I always tell them, I am not a professional photographer! Anyway, I love taking pictures, and keep all the memories, I don’t go out without my NICE camera, just in case I miss an “one in a million picture”! She is totally right, I feel like everyone that purchases an expensive camera think they are professional photographer, I wish many of my friends would read this, and understand that it is o.k. if you are not GREAT, just follow your hobby!! Loved it! Thank you

  4. Dot O on November 1, 2010 at 9:35 am

    You have provided me with an “inner peace” now… I will happily stay a photography hobbyist who takes pictures of people at their request just to enjoy my current level of ability and hopefully improve it so that I can continue to take pictures of people for fun! For me, it is truly all about the fun. I don’t want it to be work…Great post!

  5. Marisa on November 1, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Great article! I, too consider myself a “craptacular photog hobbyist” with no inclination to ever go into business. Although I do feel guilty when I spend money on gear and actions for a “hobby”. After reading, I may start to overcome this and just enjoy the journey.

  6. stacy a on November 1, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Excellent article! Thanks – I can rest at ease being a hobbyist & love every minute of it 🙂

  7. Patti Brown on November 1, 2010 at 10:14 am

    LOVE this article! Great points!

  8. Caryn Caldwell on November 1, 2010 at 10:24 am

    THANK YOU for this! I can’t tell you how much pressure I’ve gotten to start a photography business, but I really don’t want to turn my fun hobby into a business. My passion lies elsewhere. I do photography for fun and to practice and to capture my baby’s growing up. If I added schedules and deadlines and taxes and dealing with difficult clients and the pressure of making an impression (good or bad) with every shoot, not to mention having to figure out how to run a business plus, most importantly, all I DON’T know about photography (and about my equipment) – well, just thinking about it makes my head spin. If I turned my hobby into what would be, for me, a high-pressure business, then what would I do for fun?

  9. Amanda on November 1, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I love this! I doubt I will ever go into business as a photographer, yet I want to be as good as I can possibly be, and have great equipment. It is a passion of mine, but that doesn’t mean it has to be my job! As a mom, I have abandoned a lot of my old hobbies, but being a photographer (as amateur as I am) is something that I will never abandon. There are twinges of jealousy at times, equipment and talent envy…. but that’s ok, just something more for me to work towards! haha!

  10. Andrea on November 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I could just give you a big hug! You have put into words what I could not. A lot of people just don’t get why I am content to be a hobbyist. But I am. For me, having a business would suck the joy out of photography. And I love it to much to do that.

  11. Prissy on November 1, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I agree with everything everyone else has said, especially about “sucking the joy” out of what I enjoy doing for fun, leisure and creativity!

  12. alice on November 1, 2010 at 11:32 am

    thanks for this post. i get a lot of people telling me i should go “pro” but i really don’t want to. so, thanks for this post! it made me feel better. i can be a hobbyist and keep learning and keep shooting everything around me without feeling pressured. i like working on my own time schedule – i worked on someone else’s in my real job for 27 years. it’s time for me to enjoy myself and do my own thing. so, again, thanks!

  13. Dusty on November 1, 2010 at 11:49 am

    This article is just how I feel… I LOVE taking pictures but I’m not a businesswoman. I love knowing im not the only one with these feelings!I love learning and exploring and the exprssion I get from takig pictures. When it’s not fun, dont do it.

  14. Beth on November 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Mandi is my new hero!!!!

  15. amy on November 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I love this post. LOVE it. It resonates 100% with me and the struggle I’ve been through. I knew once I started despising my shooting sessions that something was wrong, and I went back to just me & my camera with no expectations from others. It was liberating. 🙂 Thanks for the post!

  16. bdaiss on November 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Bava! Wonderful post. I’ve loved photography from a young age, but have never had the desire to go into business. It fulfills my need for creativity and artistic impression, as well as the memory keeping you mention (although journaling? Oy – my Achilles for sure). And yes, my hubby also refers to me as a “picture freak”. Kudos to you for recognizing where you are at peace.I have a profound respect for the true professionals. I know my place, and it ain’t with them. But I’m more than happy to learn from them and continue to improve my own sill set. : )

  17. bdaiss on November 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Bava! Wonderful post. I’ve loved photography from a young age, but have never had the desire to go into business. It fulfills my need for creativity and artistic impression, as well as the memory keeping you mention (although journaling? Oy – my Achilles for sure). And yes, my hubby also refers to me as a “picture freak”. Kudos to you for recognizing where you are at peace.I have a profound respect for the true professionals. I know my place, and it ain’t with them. But I’m more than happy to learn from them and continue to improve my own skill set. : )

  18. Roberta on November 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    No aspirations to turn a wonderful hobby that I love into a profession, which may be why this article really spoke to me. It should be required reading for all of those who, because they have a nice camera and some good lenses, think it is time to begin signing their photos with a “studio name”. Just because family and friends love your photos doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ready to become a pro.

  19. Gina on November 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    YES! I was just telling someone last night that I love photography but will probably never make it a business. This was perfect.

  20. Jen at Cabin Fever on November 1, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    A very interesting point of view. I am struggling on the line of professional versus hobbyist. My friends and family are pushing me to do more and more with my photography, but I am delving deeper into a career in nursing. The two are overlapping less and less and its hard to find balance and determine what I think is right for me. Bottom line.. like you… I want to keep the fun in Photography. NEK Photography Blog Cabin Fever in Vermont

  21. jenberry on November 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    i love this. it hits home. everyone say, “be a professional” but they don’t realize how difficult, competitive and stressful the “business” part can be. I too prefer to be a hobbyist and just buy a lens occasionally and not feel pressure to perform.

  22. Ashley on November 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    this is soooo refreshing! I want to send it to all my friends that have a camera and are now photographers. This is spot on. This is me.

  23. heidi@thecraftmonkey on November 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Mandi is right on! I feel the same way! SOOO many “photographers” now. Or maybe I’m just jealous that I’ll never be good enough! ha!

  24. Cynthia on November 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Very poignant questions. I’ve been wrestling with the same exact observations and thoughts! I have yet to reach a conclusion as I’d love to make money at what I love to do. Isn’t that the ultimate career choice? However, it does become grueling when there are demands and you have to perform. Definitely things to ponder.Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It’s enlightening knowing I’m not alone with these thoughts and decisions. I now know if I were to choose your path, I will definitely feel more at ease about that decision.

  25. Christina on November 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Oh, I love this!! What a fantastic article! I’m struggling with this very issue, but my heart is telling me to keep it a hobby. It’s nice to know you shouldn’t let that pressure or the fact that it seems like the natural thing to do force you into anything.

  26. crystal ~ momaziggy on November 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I could have wrote this myself. Every.single word is 100% true for me. I love what I do and want to always love it. And just because I have a pro camera & know how to use it, doesn’t mean I HAVE to go into biz either. Thank you for this! 🙂

  27. Coree on November 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I love what you have said and how you have said it. I do charge people when they ask to have their portraits done. I do not underbid other photographers. I freely share images when I have taken them for my own enjoyment. I love doing this. I love doing it this way.

  28. Joseph Lim on November 2, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Agreed 100%. This post just what I need. Thanks. 🙂

  29. betsy on November 2, 2010 at 11:54 am

    i’d like to print this and hand it to people who try to hire me instead of a business card! nearly every time i post photos i get someone asking me what i charge or when they can schedule with me….i always tell them i’m not a photographer. then i get the inevitable “but your photos are awesome, you should be in business!” or “but you could make SO much money!” and i admit they’ve got me wondering about it more than once. but luckily i’ve been very aware than i am not a business person and that squashes it pretty fast. it’s not so easy to explain that to other people though! so the next article i need is “how to make everyone around you realize you don’t need to go pro!” or maybe “how to not get business when you don’t want to be in business!” lol

  30. Michelle on November 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Oh, thanks so much for this!! You’ve almost taken the words out of my mouth!! I got really interested in photography and was enjoying it and learning so much! When I got my dslr everyone (well, my huge family!) insisted that I was good enough and needed to go professional! Well, I slowly tried – and while I did take some pics for others, it really took the fun out of it! I ended up never picking up my camera and forgot (horrible memory) a lot of what I had learned. After a while I decided I was going to find my joy again in photography and I realized that for now, I want to do photography for me – as a hobby – and not as a job. I still take pics for family and friends, but for my enjoyment – not as a paid job. (although, I’ll gladly accept some cash if they want to contribute to my camera wish list! haha!)

  31. Ann Cobb on November 5, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Those 6 lessons that you listed are EXACTLY how I feel about going into business. The big one for me is that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure, and it would take all the fun out of photography for me. I take photos because it’s fun, and I don’t want to ever lose that.

  32. Heidi on November 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    OH! I could have written this! 🙂 Great article!

  33. Timothy Morris on April 23, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Wow! I found this blog via Google search, and what you wrote is EXACTLY how I feel, and have been feeling for over 5 years. I love photography, and when a friend or family wants to buy one of my pictures, or ‘hire’ me for a wedding, my ego kicks in and tells me that I could do good for myself if I start an actual buisness. I’ve tried it four times, and I can honestly say that I don’t have the business smarts to go pro, nor do I want to give up what free time I do have ‘working’ on what used to be a fun hobby. It truly DOES ruin the fun for me. Getting upset when someone on Facebook uses one of my pictures for their profile, somebody wanting to buy a photo of mine but never going through with the transaction, worrying about copyrighting/watermarking my images so that they don’t get used without at least giving me recognition…(yeah, I have an ego problem when it comes to my photos….and I hate that I’m like that….).You put things into a new perspective for me, as far as investing money into the hobby without expecting returns, other than for self-satisfaction. I love how you worded it!The pressure from others expectations (for photo-shoots, reunions, etc.) is too much for me to handle…I’m not a people person at all. And quite frankly, I still have insecurity issues, and have, on too many occasions, only taken photos that I thought other people would like, instead of focusing on what I thought was neat or creative.Thank you for opening my eyes….I know what I need to do now!Good luck on your future ventures as well & have a Happy Easter!-Tim

  34. JIm on September 13, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I know I”m responding to an article that’s over a year old, but considering this is the first time I’ve seen it, You have seemed to nail what I consider myself in photography. I’ve never once considered myself a professional but instead a hobbyist photographer. I’ve always got more pleasure in looking back on the photos I’ve taken in the past, reminiscing about the beautiful sights I’ve seen, that special moment captured in time, or even sharing with your experiences with others. As you have mentioned which is so true.. Once something that you enjoy becomes a job, then it’s no longer fun, and that’s when someone would no doubt loose interest.. Great Article! Now, If I were only able to financially move from film to DSLR, I’d be even happier! =)

  35. Hussainy on January 13, 2012 at 2:36 am

    This made me seriously rethink about going pro. I love photography but I do have the feeling that making it a way to bring money will take the fun part out of it.I have friend who are pro. and they say it’s not like that, but I’m still confused about it.

  36. jackie on March 14, 2012 at 10:33 am

    well said! couldn’t agree more 🙂

  37. Becca on June 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Thank you so much. I love this post. I have been feeling the pressure of “going pro” so much lately, and this really helped me put a pause on those thoughts. I am proud to be a hobbyist photographer too!

  38. Danrebb on November 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Wow! I really like this post! I also want to stay as a Hobbyist Photographer. It gives no pressure! Just having fun shooting places, faces and objects.Can I repost this on my facebook page? the credit is yours of course.. :)More power to all Hobbyist Photographers! Shoot/Save/Share

  39. Eric Seaholm on March 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Well said, and extremely encouraging! Thank you.

  40. Joe on March 2, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Amen. I’m taking pictures most of my life (I’m 55), but am by no means a photographer. I don’t have the creative gene, or the ability to assimilate all the concepts of composition, light, etc. I like things just the way they are: I take the best pictures I can, I try to improve, and my pictures aren’t graded or judged. Like any hobby, I can enjoy it for its own sake. After 10 years of point and shoot cameras, I have a DSLR that has rekindled my passion for photography. As Ben Long says in his videos, now get out there and shoot!

  41. Charmaine Hardy on September 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Hi, My name is Charmaine….and I am a hobbyist photographer! Thankyou for a wonderful article. I can now go back to enjoying my photography without trying to justify why my work is nothing like Joe Bloggs down the road 🙂

  42. jason anderson on December 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    My opinion is to do what you love and my passion is photography and no matter what it will always be a hobby,but it’s also a business for me because I do events,own my own studio,and sell my work online.Go to my blog if you want to know how to transform your hobby into a business.http://instagramimpact.com

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