We often talk about being either an amateur photographer or a professional photographer. What is the difference between these two? The professional earns a living with their camera.
The workshops or seminars for most professionals frequently talk about how we as professionals must remain always an amateur. Two of the three definitions in the dictionary refer to somebody who does or takes part in something for pleasure or is greatly interested in the subject. Only one of the definitions differentiates the amateur from the professional as more than just pay, but somebody who has only limited skill.
While there are many amateur and professional photographers, I believe the one thing distinguishing most seasoned professional photographers from those who fall by the wayside is creativity. The Creative Photographer is by nature always trying to see the world in new ways.
The Creative Photographer is rarely a generalist—yet can often handle most assignments. The Creative Photographer usually specializes and often is considered an expert in a subject outside of their photography knowledge.
I have an uncle who also was a photographer. What was one of his specialties was wildlife. He was called on to write a column for a magazine where he often helped the reader to know more about a wild animal.
For me I have specialized through the years in different areas, which typically involve people in a unique location. My major specialties have developed into four areas of interest: Science/Technology; Religion; Sports and Human Interest.
The Creative Photographer is one who is curious most of the time and a problem solver when it comes to knowing how to communicate in a way to hook the reader and inform them about the world in which they live.