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Tim has been interested in photography for many years. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's in Environmental Science. Writing nature articles allows him to combine his interest in photography and nature into one medium.

Why I’m Proud to be an Amateur Photographer


I’t’s about time we started to take photography seriously and teat it as a hobby.” – Elliott Erwitt, Photographer

In my heart I like to remain an amateur, in the sense of being in love with what I’m doing, forever astonished again at the endless possibilities of seeing and using the camera as a recording tool.” – Inge Morath, Photographer

I am an amateur and I intend to stay that way for the rest of my life.” – Andre Kertesz, Photographer

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I’m involved in my various hobbies and where I’m going with them.  One of my biggest (if not the biggest) is photography.  I’m often asked “How do you make money with photography?  Isn’t it really competitive?  Don’t you spend a lot of money on gear?  Will you ever get your money back?  Doesn’t it take a lot of time?  Why do you do it?”

I used to play a lot of golf, but I never had one person say to me “How are you going to make money with golf?”  Not one.  Nada.  Zero.  Ever.

So, why is it that people think that as an amateur photographer I have to make money in order for the hobby to be a success?  Would I have only been successful at golf if I was on the PGA tour?  Did I have to win the Masters?

For me, photography is interesting because it is, at it’s root, the study of light.  How amazing is that!  We photographers study light and it’s various properties, such as color and intensity.  And these days, it is so much easier to do our studies than it was back int he days of film.

Why am I an amateur photographer and no longer an amateur golfer?  Believe it or not, it centered around the issue of money.  When I really sat down and calculated how much I was spending on golf in greens fees, lessons, practice balls, travel, equipment, golf balls, etc., the price was staggering.  Plus, there is a lot of waiting around in golf, depending on when and where you play.  With photography, even though the equipment can be expensive, most of it has value even several years later.  Of course, new camera bodies come out and older ones depreciate in value, but quality lens can hold a higher percentage of their value.

But cost was only one factor.  In golf, I felt like I was going to the same places over and over again and doing the same thing over and over again.  With amateur photography, there is always somewhere new to go or some new technique to try.  If I were a professional, this would probably be quite different and I would be doing weddings, or events, or portraits, over and over.  But, as an amateur, I’m free to do whatever I want without worrying about how I’m going to make money.  Plus, I very seldom have to wait on slower photographers (as in golf) and I can practice photography even on days like today when the wind chill outside is 9 degrees Fahrenheit.  And that’s what hobbies are really all about.

Exploring, innovating, trying new things, working out problems, learning, having fun, and yes, even making mistakes along the way is all part of being an amateur.  If I were a professional photographer, my focus would have to be different and most, if not all, of my photography time would have to be dedicated to making money and I would not have the luxury of making mistakes – I would have to get it right every time (or at least, the majority of times).  The’s the nature of the beast.

For me, I’ve decided that I’m proud to be a n amateur photographer and will probably always hold my “amateur” status.  Heck, even one of history’s greatest golfers, Bobby Jones, was an amateur and won 13 major events.  Pretty impressive for a mere “amateur”.

So, embrace your amateur status and consider it a badge of honor.  Yes, we are “only” amateurs and may not be able to compete with the professionals in their area of expertise, but we can still explore, discover, share, and have a lot of fun along the way.

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