I earn my living working with photographic equipment. Most of the money comes from selling stuff in a shop – some of it comes from taking pictures for pay. I share the income with the tax department, but I am not sure they do anything sensible with it. God knows, I don’t.
I did not train at an institution for this work. Passed no exams, submitted no portfolio, laid myself before no judges…save the paying customers. I take it I have succeeded in something as I am not poor now and probably won’t be hereafter – if I am careful. I could not tell you if I am a professional or not.
I once did belong to a different, learned profession, and studied at a university for 5 years – sat exams – submitted papers – did presentation cases. Worked for 40 years and finished it without killing anyone or getting sued. Again a success.
All this being said, let me wheel round and say this: If you are going to be a photographer for money, jolly well learn the trade or profession before accepting jobs. Don’t rely on the internet, hearsay, or the desperate advice of the sales assistants in the camera store to try to train you for your shoot. We can’t tell you enough in an hour to make you – or your images -look good. Give us a week or a month and we might get you up to speed for one sort of job, but anything less is inviting disaster.
You’ll find it comes around to that classic set of lines that Danny De Vito said in the movie ” Joe And The Volcano”:
” I know he can get the job, but can he do the job? “…interlaced with ” I know he can do the job, but can he get the job? ”
If you are better at getting it than doing it, either get some solid trade training or find someone who has that training to do it. You will far better serve your client and yourself if you are an agent for a good photographer than an agent for visual disaster.