What place does professional photography have today?

So, it's Sunday evening here and I start today's post with a title like that... many worms in this can, I do think.  However, it is a question that begs to be looked at in this world of camera phones and cheap DSLR's, and I'm not one to shy away from a tough question. 

Leave the full time job?

Photography isn't the only job I do - I'd absolutely love it to be my only source of income, however in today's economic climate it is indeed quite a risk to leave the day job, set up shop and go it alone.  Especially in a field where everyone owns a camera of some sort, and believes that's all they need to capture Mr & Mrs Smiths wedding.   In fact, my other job is in retail.  [edit: I got frustrated with working in retail and began working in SEO, web development - from which I've learned so much to improve this website -Simon] Specialising in photographic equipment.  So, one might say I am very well placed to look at this question. 

We all own a camera of some sort. There's a camera on your mobile phone and tablet.  You probably have a compact camera, bridge camera or DSLR in your house somewhere too.  If you leave the camera on auto it does all the hard work for you, so a great photo is just a point and click away. Easy.  So why do we hire a pro for our big life events?  Is it that special something that a creative professional can capture that just seems to be missing from our every day shots, or is it the peace of mind that comes with knowing that those once in a lifetime events are in the hands of someone who's done it all many times before? 

What is a professional photographer anyway?  

Photography might seem like a game with fancy expensive 'boys toys' to some, but to professionals it's a way of life and paying the bills.

Photography might seem like a game with fancy expensive 'boys toys' to some, but to professionals it's a way of life and paying the bills.

In most circles a professional photographer is a person who makes most of his or her income from photography.   No specification of skill level or experience, however in most cases it is fairly safe to assume that if indeed they do make the majority of a good living income from photography they're probably pretty damn good at it.  Or at least their clients think so.  In order to make a living from this career one must be able to produce images to a level that surpasses that of uncle Bob, reliably.  That means serious skills, equipment, and an attention to detail.  

Not only does the photographer have to compete with the every day casual shooter, but also with every other professional photographer in his area.  Coming out on top and getting those clients depends on being the very best, and originality. 

So who would you rather shot took your photos?  

a) Uncle Bob who owns a great DSLR, takes the occasional photo on holiday, and says he'll shoot for beer.

or

b) A professional who shoots photos for a living, day in and out, and is motivated to provide only the very best photos (because his income depends on it) - for a price

I'll leave that one to you.  Discussion in the comments below.

Until next time!