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How I Stopped Calling Myself an Amateur Photographer

Updated: Mar 30

A teacher once told me, “You can consider yourself a professional when you get paid”. My first paid gig was when I shot some baby products for a client. My client commented on my attention to detail, clever product positioning and lighting skills. Did this mean that I was no longer an amateur photographer? I had always considered myself an amateur; after all, I am always learning and perfecting my skills. To consider myself a professional is scary territory. I am always learning and at times “professional” seems slightly out of reach.


When I got my first film camera at the age of 13, I took it everywhere with me; to family events, trips and strolls outdoors. Anything and everything became subject matter for me to photograph. I knew at a very early age that art was my forte and this passion heightened as I got older.


Fast forward a few years when I invested in my first digital camera – the T3i – there was no turning back. I decided to become an expert in my craft so I enrolled in advanced photography techniques in lighting, shooting and editing. In turn, I’ve developed a strong photographic skill and style that has vastly changed the way I look at the world – an approach that is visible in my work today.


I am constantly meeting other fellow photographers and continue to see their vast skill levels from beginners to advanced. Thanks to my continuing education and practice, it is very easy for me to spot a beginner photographer. There are certain things I look for like how do they frame or compose an image? Is there any skin smoothing done to a model? How is the image edited? Are there glaring Photoshop mistakes? These questions are criteria I look for that determines the level of experience and quality of work in a photograph.


In this digital age, I am constantly competing with fellow “photographers” – those who own a DSLR camera but may not know how to operate outside of the auto mode. We also live in a day and age where cell phone camera technologies have improved and are starting to surpass digital cameras with lens attachments, such as a fisheye lens for more creative control. It is much easier for non-professionals to claim the title of a being a photographer.


With my recent experiences, I’ve come to reevaluate what it means to be a professional photographer. It is not how well you photograph an image. It is about the style that you bring and your expertise as a whole. It is the way you see the world and how you can photograph the same subject matter countless times but with a new perspective, style and edge. It is how you learn about and communicate with your clients to capture their perfect image. It is about positioning your model in the most flattering way to bring out their best side. It is all these skills that move you out of the amateur zone into the professional realm.


As always, I continue to perfect my craft by learning and practicing to capture truly memorable and extraordinary moments for my clients. Today, I am proud to say that I am a professional photographer.


Are you ready to take that leap? Do you consider yourself to be a professional? Comment below.

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4 Comments


Nirvaani Singh
Nirvaani Singh
Apr 22, 2019

Thanks Tam!

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Tam Tran-Cao
Tam Tran-Cao
Apr 22, 2019

Great article Nirvaani. Your are a professional! Go conquer the photography world. :)

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Nirvaani Singh
Nirvaani Singh
Apr 20, 2019

Thank you Ruzi!

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Ruzica Krajinovic
Ruzica Krajinovic
Apr 20, 2019

Good job Nirvaani 👏

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