“Can an amateur take a picture as good as a professional? Sure,” Ms. Eismann said. “Can they do it on demand? Can they do it again? Can they do it over and over? Can they do it when a scene isn’t that interesting?”
But amateurs like Ms. Pruitt do not particularly care.
“I never followed any traditional photography rules only because I didn’t know of any — I never went to photography school, never took any classes,” she said. “People don’t know the rules, so they just shoot what they like — and other people like it, too.”
Here’s the deal, all you enthusiastic amateurs who have been enabled by the new digital tools like digicams and internet publishing: use them to bring yourself up to speed on proper business practices before your cheap enthusiasm strangles the goose that laid the golden egg (it’s more like a duck that laid a brass egg, but still, that’s pretty cool, and it would be nice if it didn’t die.)
You’re going to need to learn, like all professional artists must at some point, that the making of interesting images is just where it starts, it’s the baseline skill that’s just assumed. The other 90% of being an artist is the professionalism, the consistency, the negotiating skills, the diplomacy, the etiquette, and the networking.
And if you’re content to just be a hobbyist making an extra buck off of some Flickr/Getty stock search, that’s fine and legitimate. But keep in mind if you’re accepting $1 for what a professional would earn $20, you’re leaving $19 in the pockets of the middlemen who are rolling you like a sucker. Just like they’ve been rolling workers in every industry for the past forty years. Stop looking at it like you’re making an extra $1, and more like you’re losing $19. You are basically a digital undocumented worker, contributing to the race to the bottom, hollowing out the middle class from the inside. Educate yourself. I want you to get paid what you are worth, not what you can be suckered into accepting because it’s your “hobby” and your shot is “just good enough.”
I say this not as some fancy trust-fund NYC photographer who wants to keep you down, but as a poor white trash kid who dropped out of school at 16, taught myself photography out of magazines and books and lots of practice, and worked my way up for fifteen years to get where I am now, and want you to be able to do the same, in less time.