When is a “photographer” “professional photographer”?

When is a “photographer” “professional photographer”?MDP_5364RTCH_pp

I recently followed a discussion in Model Mayhem launched by a “freelance photographer” who needed assistance with shooting a model portfolio for an aspiring model he had met recently. The supportive and caring response to the question was thoughtful and complete to the extreme. It really was a tribute to the professionals that are part of this group that shared without reservation even though I sensed a unspoken consensus of incredulity that a “photographer” would be unfamiliar with posing and lighting techniques.20346_222782166615_3224673_n

Ron Jon Surf Shop Billboards by Matt Dunn

Ron Jon Surf Shop Billboards by Matt Dunn

In the end, I suppose anyone who has ever taken a picture is a photographer and if you can get someone to pay you then you are a pro. Likewise, I know of no pro who didn’t launch their career doubtful of their readiness or worried that they would be revealed as a charlatan soon after taking their first polaroids(sorry for the reference but many of us started before the advent of digital and LCD screens).

I want to make it clear at the outset that my intention is not to demean anyone who considers himself or herself a photographer. I have had many assistants who taught me and have been willing to share techniques I may have never found in any other way.

Caroline in American Apparel Silver Swimsuit

Caroline in American Apparel Silver Swimsuit

That being said

I would really like to know how it feels to the pros out there who see aspiring photographers present and market themselves as “photographers” not to mention “professionals” when by any reasonable measure such a claim is at best a benign stretch of their own imagination,(of course, I don’t mean to include Ashton Kutcher in this set of “photographers”).

I can hit some tennis balls on the tennis court and look like I know what Im doing but I wouldn’t call myself a professional . So why is the word “photographer” bandied about so easily by so many with little more than a Coolpix and a website?

Am I just having a bad day or is this ever a minor irritation to anyone else too

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