Sunday, February 13, 2011

Am I a (professional) photographer?

I've been getting an increasing number of calls and emails lately from people asking me to take pictures for various things -mainly for local athletes and sports teams.  For example, the High School basketball coach wanted a large format action photograph of each of his senior players to present at the last home game of the season.  Because the coach is someone I know well and has given a lot to the community in general and my son in particular (coaching him in both basketball and baseball), I agreed to do it as a favor to him.  I think he would have paid me something if I had asked him, but I didn't.  I'm pretty happy with the two pictures I produced - the one at left, and this one:

Last year, I also took photographs of all the Middle School sports teams and athletes.  I created a variety of packages (with various size team and individual size pictures, buttons, etc.) to offer for sale to parents.  I did it as a fundraiser for the school sports programs, making no money for it myself.  We raised about $3,500 for the school over the course of the year, and all the families were very happy with the results.  This year, mercifully, I have a terrific partner in the venture, so I'm not doing all the work myself! 
I have also, on occasion, taken pictures for the local little league, my son's travel baseball team, and my son's soccer club.  I have done all of these as fundraisers for the organization, donating everything over cost back to the program. I have also donated photographs to school auctions (of San Francisco Giants baseball players) and have had them sell for hundreds of dollars!  I have enjoyed it and never thought about making money for myself on these ventures.  Then, this week, the same basketball coach asked me if I would be willing to take the pictures for the JV basketball team, as he was unable to schedule something with the regular company with which the high school usually contracts for sports photographs.  He offered to pay a fee, and for the first time, I really considered it.  In the end, I told him I would do it as fundraiser for the high school sports program instead. But, I also have a request from the local soccer club to take team pictures.  Since I don't have a kid in the soccer club, I am going to keep the profit I make on the pictures, rather than donate it back.
So, this has raised all kinds of questions in my mind - Does this make me a professional photographer? Should I pursue this further?  Have any of you considered these questions before?  What have you concluded?

9 comments:

Amy said...

Well, I suppose you are! Well done - these are all great shots and I love that you are using your talent to help fundraise and be a part of your local community :-)

scrappyjacky said...

Well...I think if people are offering to pay you....that makes you a professional!!
I certainly think you should pursue it further if you have the time and inclination....I'm always impressed by your photos.I love the first one you're showing here.

Heather said...

I agree with Jacky. If you get paid for a job then you are a professional. If its something that you can see playing a big part in your future then go for it :) But with everything else going on in your life would you feel ok for other things to move further down your list of priorities? Its a decision only you & your family can make but I think your photos are amazing & obviously others think the same :))
Good luck xx

laurie said...

your breadth of talent amazes me! the quality of your pictures definitely puts you in a "professional" status. sounds like the word got out (or the photos, i should say), and you are a sought out photographer in your community!

Sian said...

If people are offering to pay I think that definitely makes you professional! And as for pursuing it further - Rinda, you would need a time-turner!!

Lizzie said...

I agree with the others that you are a "Professional"! However, that doesn't oblige you do to any more than you already are doing. It's great that you have used your wonderful talent for the benefit of those community groups/schools. It's also great that people are willing to pay for your work (which I agree is fabulous!).
But you are still the master of your own destiny and it's up to you whether you have time or not, to become involved in photographing (and editing/printing/delivering) events for payment. You can always say your diary is full for that day/week/month - that doesn't mean you'll never do any more, just that you are too busy for a certain event/set of matches etc.

I love your photographs - and obviously, so do many others. I wish you luck and success, whatever you decide to do!

Karen said...

Yes, the quality of your photos and the fact that people are willing to pay you for them makes you a professional in my book. The question is how much time do you want to devote to this since you already have two other professional jobs (law and mixed-media art)?

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I too would call you a professional photographer

Moments Captured said...

AWESOME!!!!! What lens are you using for the basketball shots? The lighting in the gym can make those shots challenging! Yours look fabulous!!!!! :-)