Amateur and Professional Images:

The Difference

by William Lulow

What is really the difference between even good amateur images and professional ones? In order to answer this question, we have to understand a few things. First, amateur photographers are not bad photographers. They shoot for the love of it. But they don’t necessarily shoot all the time. They shoot because the love photography and most often, shoot what they love. Second, amateurs don’t always shoot the same things repeatedly. Even though they may be good photographers, they really haven’t studied every genre within the field. Professionals, on the other hand, have to make their living making photographs. Typically, they have had many opportunities to shoot the same subjects. They are aware of certain industry-wide techniques regarding the genre in which they specialize. They also are more apt to be shooting on a daily basis. The more you practice at something, the better you will get at it. Professionals also know how to provide what their clients need…on call.

In order to complete a professional assignment, there are a myriad of services that professionals provide. Among them are such things as: top-notch equipment (very expensive these days), a studio (which requires lots of overhead expenses), lights (not just portable flash, but expensive studio strobe units), props, wardrobe, stylists (for hair, makeup and set decoration for ads), assistants, location scouting, location equipment, transportation, location use fees, permits, crowd control (necessary when shooting famous people), retouching and, especially with today’s emphasis on digital processing, upload and download computer time.

So, one can readily see the number of things that go into producing a first-rate professional assignment. On top of all this, the professional often must wait up to 60 or 90 days for payment on the invoice. This means that when photographing advertisements or public relations jobs, the professional photographer must also act as a bank.

With all this in mind, the next time you commission a professional photographer to “just take some quick shots,” remember what’s involved in order to produce great results!