Photography: Professional hubris

In recent years, it’s safe to say everything has been on the up for amateur photographers like myself. Digital photography has removed the waiting and the chemicals from the workflow, meaning everyone who has a digital camera can see instantly what their pictures look like. The adage that every photographer has a few thousand crap photos to take before they take a good one is dealt with so much sooner now. This, coupled with sites like Flickr, DeviantArt and to some degree Facebook, means amateurs like myself can get their pictures seen by more people than ever before. This leads to being approached for commercial usage and this is where the Professionals have got themselves into apoplexy.

A rank amateur, raining on your parade. ©2008, Stuart Dallas Photography

After decades of hubris, professional photographers are now feeling threatened by the amateurs. Not in terms of skill, training, experience or even equipment but in the only area they can be beaten by a rank amateur and that’s price. You see this reported in the NYT and on blogs everywhere and the feeling is that the amateurs need to stop fuelling the race to the bottom, because the middleman is an evil party making money from your naïveté. We need to help the professionals and start competing with them on their terms, at their prices, otherwise we’re hurting a profession that really needs our support right now.

Well, I’m going to be the one to call bullshit on this one. I still respect professionals, even though they’ve collectively sneered at us amateurs over the years, but if you’re operating at a skill level that can be equalled by a lucky granny with a point-and-shoot, maybe you need to re-evaluate your career. If you’re suffering in this economy, it’s not the amateur’s fault; it’s the economy, stupid.

I don’t know how to save your career, but to be honest, that’s not my job. One thing I can assume is that it’d help if you stopped being complacent. I can tell you that blaming it on amateurs isn’t going to help. You’ve been unkind to us in the past and we’ve been gracious and accepting of your superiority, but to land this one on our doorstep is a bit much.

This is not supposed to offend professionals, especially those I consider personal friends, but come on, if you’ve complained about being undercut by an amateur, give us a break; that was you at one point.

What’s your opinion? Please share it in the comments below or tell me on Twitter.

Jared Earle is a writer, photographer and systems administrator. You can find him on Twitter most of the time.

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