• Gwendolyn Houston Jack

Professional Photographer vs. Hobbyist: What’s the Difference?

These days everyone can take photos, whether using a cell phone camera or a digital DSLR. But there is still a vast difference between a professional photographer and a hobbyist. Amateurs can still take some great photos every now and then, but only a pro can consistently produce gorgeous images that their clients will love.

framed prints of an older black lady on a gray wall
Wall gallery design idea

After all, professional photography is about more than having the right gear or knowing all the settings on a camera. It’s about having the skill and experience to find the right lighting, use the right techniques and understand how to frame a photo to create the best possible images.

Simply put, a hobbyist or amateur photographer takes photos for their own personal enjoyment, while a professional uses her/his photography skills to create images for clients and generate income. For a professional, photography isn’t a pastime—it’s their livelihood. And they have the skills and training to back up their skills and produce amazing photos.

Gwendolyn Houston-Jack portrait artist is creating prom portraits at the Mercer Botanic Gardens with a young Hispanic girl
G creating prom portraits at Mercer Botanic Gardens

A professional photographer is committed to their business and to consistently creating high-quality images. While a hobbyist can take as many bad photos as they want, a professional photographer’s goal is to take and edit great photos to keep their clients happy. Disappointed customers can break a business, so it’s a high priority for a professional to make sure that they create images that their clients will love.

Professional photographers may start as hobbyists and often choose to go into the photography business because they have a passion for the art. But unlike an amateur, professionals take time to learn the skills of their trade and spend their careers working on their craft and learning how to create better images. This commitment to improvement is what makes a professional photographer differ from a hobbyist.


A professional photographer invests in the highest quality equipment and knows how to use it to create images for their clients. A pro doesn’t just have one camera and lens, but multiple backups, as well as lighting equipment and editing software. In addition, a professional functions as a small business, which means that they are licensed as a business, as well as insured to cover any incidents that may occur.

While amateur photographers may have a vision for their images, they often lack the skills to create those photos in reality. In contrast, a professional photographer knows exactly how to turn their vision into stunning images, regardless of the subject. Their experience and skill in lighting, framing, and the use of professional photography equipment allows them to make use of whatever setting and background they have to create remarkable images not just in the moment, but in editing and post-production as well.


So let's sum this all up. Professional photographers are about the overall experience. As a certified professional photographer, I take care of everything from selecting the appropriate apparel for your photo session to selecting the make-up artist to being the person who delivers and installs your framed art.


Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing more about what photo questions you should ask as well as how to design a wall gallery for your home. If you have questions, feel free to reach out. If you're interested in chatting about your own portrait session, you can always schedule a complimentary consult here: schedule photo consultation.



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