Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!): "There is no such thing as a professional photographer."

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by GoCubsGo, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    More or less, there is no Flickr pro because Marissa Mayer believes there are no professional photographers. I'm sure this rubs a few the wrong way, rightfully so. I disagree with her, but I have always believed that the second some people bought a dSLR, they automatically thought they were professionals ready for action and are sadly mistaken. I do fully disagree with her assessment that just because pro cameras are readily accessible, that there aren't any true professionals specifically on Flickr.

  2. macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    The quality of the photo is more dependent on the photographer, not the equipment.

    That having been said, she doesn't believe anyone makes a living as a photographer, and that any image uploaded should be public domain. And that is wrong.
  3. macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2013
    Scotland, UK
    I think she's worded that statement very poorly. I'm sure Marissa knows that a profession is simply any activity by which a person earns their livelihood. To say that there are no people on the planet who earn their livelihood by taking photographs is blatantly incorrect.

    I suspect what she means is that there are no Flickr Pro accounts any more because flickr does not offer a service / features that help real Pros earn an income (and never has).

    As you say, I think she'll rub a number of people the wrong way with that statement. However I honestly don't think it'll upset a large number of Pros - those people who are genuinely earning their income from photography probably don't care what Marissa thinks. They'll already know that a Flickr account doesn't help them generate an income and there are a number of other solutions (like SmugMug) that can.
  4. macrumors 68020

    May 6, 2008
    Spot on right here. With DSLR's becoming more and more affordable, everyone nowadays thinks that they're pro photographer's because they have a Rebel XSi or Nikon D5100.

    I think there are a lot of people who disagree with Marissa's statement. Mainly the professional wedding photographer's who are on their feet for 13 hours hussling their butt off.
  5. macrumors regular


    Jan 16, 2008
    According to Marissa Mayer, I guess what I have been doing for the last 40 years hasn't been professional, but photography has been my living for years. So call it what you will Marissa- professional photography has taken me around the world and I couldn't be happier with my career choice. Anyone can lay down the cash for pro equipment, but not everyone understands the nuances of light on film or digital sensors let alone how to compose and get to a high quality final photo.

    But then again, anyone can buy a computer and word processing equipment, does that mean there are no professional writers.

    I don't use flicker, nor do I use smug mug....
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2009
    IMO, it is not that people think they are all of a sudden pro once they have a dSLR, it's that most pro photographers do a piss poor job at explaining/showing why they are a pro with expensive rates and why Johnny down the street who also has a big expensive camera is not.

    Most pro's, especially the ones bitching about it on the internet, are as arrogant as doctors when it comes to their profession. They expect everybody to know why they are so good and why the rates are what they are and get pissed when they don't get a job because Johnny down the street does it cheaper. And they do so all the while refusing to show why they are so much better and why they can do a much better job, their only argument being that they are the professional.

    It is all about marketing and perceived value, and it is one of the most important parts of a pro's job. If you lose a job to Johnny down the street, you're not doing your job right.

    I'll put on my flame-suit now.:D
  7. thread starter macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Of course that is true. I don't reject that opinion at all.
    Agreed. If this is what Flickr TOS suggests then that is a problem.

    She does give her impression of what she considers a professional, sort of. I am not sure she understands the meaning though.

    About 8 or so years ago I met someone who was given a Canon G2 as a gift. He quickly went out and started shooting his buddies. In about a month he had a website and started charging. His images were good head shots. He didn't seem to do anything extraordinary with posing exception being all of the subjects looked comfortable in front of the camera. Speaking from experience, looking comfortable in front of a lens is definitely not easy if you're just not. Having a photographer who is comfortable with the subject is important. He managed to feel comfortable with what he shot and found great subjects. His work is now in model photography. Months after his acquisition of an advanced P&S camera, the creation of a website and his proclamation of his professional status, it was annoying to talk to him. He wasn't humble and he became unbearable to talk to about photography. Asking him technical questions was impossible. I asked because portrait photography was a weakness of mine and I wanted to learn from someone who just had a knack for it. He made a profession out of his advanced P&S and I don't disrespect that.

    What I do not like is when someone buys a dSLR, takes hundreds, if not thousands, of photos a month and 3 months after buying that dSLR, they are on any one of the known-photography forums asking for advice on how to handle a pro job. Many of these people are asking for advice on how to shoot a wedding with a kit lens and a tripod. There are some who have the vision and know-how but not the equipment. What would make me believe you're a pro is if you know your limitations and agree to work within them. Don't make some unsuspecting bridal party your guinea pig in other words.

    There is a great deal of ego in photography, you are absolutely correct. I didn't adopt digital as quickly as some because I worked for what we would all consider a purist. He was anti-digital to the point where it was eventually his demise. I appreciate and value the information I have of film photography, learned from classes and professionals, but I understood the move to digital was necessary to stay alive. It has given us an over-abudnace of wannabe professional photographers. I feel like that is undeniable.

    The one thing that is important is that while some pros may do a piss poor job of qualifying their talents, they are not obligated to explain what makes them a professional. Earning a living as a photographer, whether I or anyone else sees their images as "professional" seems to be a requirement of calling yourself a pro. I used to believe this was true and lately, I've been on the fence about that myself.

    Pardon the wall of text. :eek:
  8. macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2013
    Scotland, UK
    You're absolutely right. Much as I suspect we all hate to admit it - an ability to take beautiful photos is NOT the most important skill in becoming a pro photographer. Hell, it's probably not even top 5!?

    If you're self-employed then a good business sense and great people skills will get you much further. We all know of pros who take terrible photographs, and of other wonderful photographers who can't find work to save themselves.
  9. swordio777, Jun 3, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2013
    Scotland, UK
    It's not that it "seems to be a requirement" - In the true sense of the word professional it's the ONLY requirement.

    When it comes to any form of art (be it photography, painting, music, etc), the same remains true, but lax use of the word Pro on things like Flickr accounts muddy the waters.

    But "Amateur" and "Pro" are not skill levels, and none of us would treat the word Pro so loosely in other fields. It doesn't matter how good you are at football, you wouldn't dream of calling yourself a "pro" unless you played football for a living - when it is your profession. But with photography, people seem to think they can do one terrible job, get paid $50 for it, and they've earned the "Pro" accolade.
  10. macrumors 65816

    Apr 29, 2007
  11. macrumors 68030


    Dec 14, 2009
    As a self-declared amateur, I'm torn on this subject. I say self-declared amateur with pride, because I would never even think to try to qualify myself beyond such a term. I have been taking photography very seriously since December of last year, and have learned quite a bit, but not only do I not make money from what I do, I also simply know that I have so much more to learn.

    The thing about Mayer's comment, as off the cuff, right, wrong, intentional, or anything it may have been, I kind of get what she meant.

    On one hand, it's kind of true that today, if you go by percentage of "people with cameras" only, there are maybe 1% who you could qualify as professional. On the other hand, any reasonable person wouldn't do this as a percentage of "people with cameras" but "photographers" - and there is a great difference between the two. By percentage of photographers, we're probably looking at closer to 30%, maybe a little less, that are professional.

    30%, if it's anywhere near accurate, and if you agree with my philosophy on the topic, is not a number you can ignore or toss aside.
  12. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Interesting topic.... thanks for raising it.

    I am a pro photographer, for the record. Besides fitting the technical definition (I don't do anything else for a living) I think there is a another requirement... though perhaps this is a capital 'P' - Professional. When I agree to do a job for a client they get what they want, for the price agreed, when they want. Period. All too often I get jobs because the first 'pro' didn't and/or couldn't deliver.

    I think one aspect of being 'pro' (or 'Pro') is the recognition that if you mess up too many clients, you had better start looking for a new job. An amateur is not risking much (of their own) if they mess up. If you are doing photographer only for fun, then if a better opportunity for fun comes up it is more likely that you will abandon a job. A professional knows that they simply can't abandon a client's project.

    I am very lucky to live in a community awash with photographers, many of whom have been true Professionals for a long time. In my personal experience - with rare exceptions - the ones who have been the job for decades are the most humble, non-arrogant, nicest people around. If a photographer is arrogant, usually they are still pretty new at it...and not that good. I think there is so much competition that people who are still trying to establish themselves confuse confidence for over-hyping themselves. ymmv, of course.

    I do what I do because I can't imagine doing anything else. I don't usually a call myself a 'professional photographer' (except in my own marketing materials... I just call myself a 'photographer' because that is who I am. I don't really care what others call me.... as long as they call me when they have a project that needs photographing.

    Finally... there is an old saying. " Give someone a camera, and suddently they become a photographer. Give them a flute, and they own a flute."
  13. macrumors 68020

    May 6, 2008
    I love your explanation, especially since I'm searching for a professional photographer for our wedding and we're not looking to pay an arm and leg for them since we're paying for the entire wedding ourselves. So no flame suit needed! :D
  14. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Look at their portfolios. Look at lots of portfolios. There are two things that are important here. Are they professional (in the sense that they do a really good job) and do you like their style. You should choose to one 'professional' over another simply because their style of shots, not because they were the only ones you could afford, or that presented well.

    Also keep in mind that in 10 years... or 20 years .... you are only going to have the photos as keepsake, for the most part. The band has broken up, the food is long gone, the tux no longer fits. But the photos will still be there. And this is the part of the wedding that your kids and grandkids will be wanting to see. So, make sure you get something good.

    At our wedding we had a professional (and oh boy did we look at a lot of portfolios) take our photos, and with the family. We didn't have them take photos of the guests. For the guests we put disposable cameras on each table and the MC asked the guests to take photos of themselves (but not us! As we had a pro doing our photos). We got photos of everybody there, some very good ones too. Because we had them printed at a one hour shop we simply asked for 2 copies at the time of printing... cheap to do. We kept one copy, generally, and we mailed the extra copy to the guest as part of the thank you card process. Our guests were very happy, we saved money, we got shots of everybody.

    In today's digital world, there are other options of course, and cheaper. We recently had friends get married in our backyard. They had an emerging pro take the 'formal' shots, but they also asked all the guests to email their photos from the ubiquitous phone cams to a volunteer who edited and arranged them into an online gallery for people to share. Selected guests (like us, as the hosting venue) received an Apple Book of the contributed (and emerging pro's) photos. It was a really nice memento to get. And... unlike the music, food, and party... the book we will be able to keep for a long time.

    Just some random rambles....
  15. macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    Being a professional anything is not a matter of somebodys opinion, it is a simple matter of it being their job. Any sucky photographer who makes their money duping people into buying their photos is a professional photographer. Someone who is an extremely good photographer but doesnt make money on it (like an artist that doesnt sell their work) is not a professional photographer.

    Anyone who thinks they are a pro because they bought something doesnt know what the word means, same goes for people who think it requires a certain skillset to be a pro.
  16. macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2004
    Calgary, AB
    Sadly, the perception goes both ways. A couple years ago I bought a T1i, and took a couple "intro to photography" classes because I wanted to pretend to be a photographer (I do still pretend. I'm sure I haven't earned the merit badge yet). Within a few months, I was asked to shoot a wedding. Because I "had a nice camera". Seriously? Kit lens, and not even a tripod, I might add. Unfortunately some people, even on the other side of the lens, just see the toys and think it makes it all happen. I turned down the offer, by the way. :)
  17. macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2012
    Is there some reason to care about what she thinks?
  18. macrumors 65816

    Dec 7, 2010
    Even though I'm not a working pro, but a very technical teacher, I'd happily go up against someone with £5000 dslr with my £20 film SLR, and I'm sure I'd get a better result.

    She's an idiot. Because buying a DSLR teaches you lighting, darkroom, chemistry, all the stuff that professionals know yeah?
  19. macrumors 68020

    May 6, 2008
    I really like this idea! I'm still an analog film fan since that's how I originally got into photography. I definitely could see myself purchasing some disposable cameras in bulk and putting them at our guests table at the wedding. I can just imagine all the fun the guests would have with the disposable cameras.

    We're not getting married until 2015, so I'm just in the "scouting" phase right now where I'm going through online portfolios and having my fiancee look at them as well so we mutually agree on someone. I'm also a stickler for personality. You could take some killer images, but if you have the personality of Ben Stein, then that won't cut it for me. That's why, I suppose, you should meet with the photographer face to face before booking them. That way, the photographer gets a feel for the couple and vice versa.
  20. Designer Dale, Jun 7, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013

    macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    There is nothing to debate here. Someone is a professional if they make their living doing what they do. Skill really has nothing to do with it. If your tax form reads Professional Photographer, then, well, there you go.

    BTW: Shooting a couple of weddings for a few hundred doesn't make anyone a Pro. A working income these days is around $50,000 per year. I think the rule is that at least 75% of your income has to come from something to call it your profession. Just getting paid won't cut it. There is something like a paid amateur. No offense to amateurs (I'm one).

  21. macrumors 6502


    Jun 6, 2005
    What's it take to be a pro?

    A handy rule of thumb is that it takes about 10 years or 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to attain expertise in any profession.

    Once you've put in the time, you can call yourself a professional. However, while 10,000 hours can guarantee competence, it doesn't make you elite--that extra spark of genius is something you have to be born with.
  22. macrumors 68020


    Oct 25, 2008
    Rather strange to say there is no such thing as a professional photographer.

    I can only lend my subjective view on this -

    Years ago, I did photographer and some graphic arts as my way of income. I certainly did consider myself a professional photographer. The day I stopped doing it for income, is the day I was no longer a professional photographer.

    Quality of image has nothing to do with being a "professional photographer" as many hobbyists, amateurs and such often have images that surpass many photographers who make their living doing this craft.

    While my photo work resume was very colourful and highly praised work, again I could not call myself a professional as I don't earn a living with this craft for several years. As the caliber of my work (these days) remains high, at best I can say perhaps I am a good photographer or advanced photographer.

    Just my two cents from someone who remembers buying bricks of Kodachrome, E-6 films, and loading cartridges from bulk Ilford and Kodak b/w film. My specialty so to speak was b/w darkroom and Cibachrome printing from transparencies up to 4x5 inches.

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