The P word

There are some words that I would like to eliminate from the photographic vocabulary. "Enthusiast" "Pro-Sumer" "Hobbyist" are all particularly horrible. The photographic press in particular seems very fond of these. But most of all I would like to see the back of the word "Professional" used in conjunction with Photography.

I've been recently involved in a couple of discussion threads and these are a few examples of what turns up.
''But I can't see the Pen ever being anything more pro-spec than a pro-sumer level product."
"This question is to those of you who have been or are "pro" photographers and bought into the m4/3 system. "

"Proffesionals (sic) or not in this forum already know what m4/3 stand for and how it compares to DSLR from the big boys. Know already what niche the camera is into. "
"I said that more professionals "bad mouth" because obvious they know much more than u"

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am reluctant to use the "P-word" and I am in fact embarrassed to use it. I'm not sure why entirely, but I think its something to do with the fact that I earn my living doing what I love. I'm sure there's some guilt somewhere about (almost!) enjoying every minute of my working life, whereas many other people don't have that privilege. If anyone asks me what I do, I always say photographer, with no adjectives.

I know it isn't the same, but do we have hobbyist dentists, enthusiast butchers, pro-sumer machine guns?

It isn't just photographers that the p-word gets applied to, its the equipment. This camera model is a "Professional model" "Pro-Sumer model" "Enthusiast model". "This lens is not Pro-Spec but would suit a hobbyist."

I realise that this is quite common within the arts. We have "Amateur Dramatics" "Hobbyist Painters" etc. when people engage in activities for fun & not to earn a living. Theres an example right there - is it not possible to have fun whilst earning your living? I once asked the question on a thread as to why was there a distinction between "enthusiast" & "professional".

It shouldn't be necessary to say it, but just because someone makes his living from photography is no guarantee of anything. Martin Parr makes a lot of money from his photography I believe. (Draw your own conclusions!)

I realise I'm spitting into the wind here & none of these terms are going to go away anytime soon, but I will continue my campaign none the less.

Some things to consider:-
1. Donovan Wylie and Alex Majoli are photojournalists who are known for using small compact cameras for their work. Often in war zones.
2. Jaques Henri Lartigue and Julia Margaret Cameron were "Amateurs"
3. When 35mm first appeared it was widely regarded as a format for "Non-professionals"
4. One of the most famous images of recent times, the fireman holding a baby at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing, was taken by Charles H. Porter IV, an "Amateur"

These things should be true & self-evident (But apparently aren't)
1. We are all photographers - whether we earn our living from it or not.
2. The fact that we get paid (or not) to take photographs has no bearing on either the quality of our work, or the amount of commitment, knowledge & skill that we bring to it.
3. The equipment that we choose to buy has little influence on either the quality of our work, or the amount of commitment, knowledge & skill that we bring to it.
4. The fact that we are catergorised by photographic manufacturers or commentators is insulting and has little influence on either the quality of our work, or the amount of commitment, knowledge & skill that we bring to it.
5. The choices that we make in terms of our lives has little influence on either the quality of our photography, or the amount of commitment, knowledge & skill that we bring to it.
6. We should make judgments on our own & others photographic output in terms of its own intrinsic qualities, rather than by the employment status of the photographer or by the equipment we/she/he use(s)
7. Personal preference in terms of methods of working or choice of equipment doesn't define us as photographers. It is what it is - personal.
8. Throughout the history of photography, quality of work has been defined by personal vision, rather than the size of a bank balance or a gratuitous label.