In the purest sense of the term, a professional is someone who makes money from what they do, whereas an amateur doesn’t. This dichotomy has become convoluted over the years, see the fuss over “amateur” status and the Olympics for an example. The term “professional photographer” is a pretty loaded one, conjuring up images of wedding shoots, Associated Press photojournalists, National Geographic snappers in exotic locales wearing vests bulging with equipment, the “hack” stuck in the Family Portraits booth in the back of Kmart. But to put it simply, a “pro” just has to be someone who made some money from a photo.*
So I guess I’m now a professional photographer, because I made some money from a photo.
No, it’s not for any prestigious publication, nor am I going to shoot weddings. The photo at the top of this post, titled “Wraparound Porch”, has just appeared in a literary journal, and they paid me money for it! It’s not a lot, as it is a literary journal after all. But the editor of Houston-based The Sea Letter came across the above photo on my flickr stream and asked if he could use it.
Of course it happens to be a photo I didn’t think much of. I shot it back in December, when I was in my “honeymoon” period with my Olympus 35 RD. I was just going around the neighborhood on my bike, testing out some Kodak Tri-X Pan black and white film. I just liked the look of the porch. If I was going to choose a more interesting shot from that day, it would definitely be this random doll head on a retaining wall, taken a half-mile away:
But The Sea Letter was going to pay me something, credit me, and send me a complimentary copy of the issue for this random shot. How could I say no?
This was not the first time that someone came across an image on my flickr and wanted to use it for a publication. A few years ago someone came across the photo below.
It was taken in 2015 at Sidie Hollow campground outside of Viroqua, Wisconsin. This was a stop on the Post Pepin Peregrination Tour that GravelDoc, Pondero, and myself did after that year’s Lake Pepin Tour. It was indeed a nice camping spot. This caught the eye of a publisher putting together a guide to Wisconsin campgrounds. They wanted to use it and would pay me…with a couple copies of the guide. Now as a long-time zinester I’ve contributed to publications where this was standard compensation. But this was a commercial enterprise and I wasn’t that interested in having this guide. So I asked for an amount that wasn’t substantial yet something, probably $50. They balked, and conveniently found “another” photo to use. Whatever.
Anyways, now that I’m a pro, can I wear the fancy vest?
Oh yeah! In other film photography news, I got my first blog post up at the excellent film photography website 35mmc. It’s about shooting the cherry blossoms in Portland with some expired Kodak Elite Chrome 100 slide film using my Minolta SR-T 101. You should check it out!
*Excepting someone who enters a photo in a contest. That’s probably still considered “amateur”.