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December 31, 2012


Replies: 14

What's the Difference Between an Amateur, a Hobbyist and an Artist?

PoultryChamp Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I have heard that there are many differences between the amateur, the hobbyist and the artist.

I've heard that the amateur is someone with little or no experience in photography; the hobbyist is someone who has a lot of experience but does not pursue photography professionally; and the artist is someone who may or may not be professional, but uses photography as a medium for his/her creative ideas.

What is your opinion on the different types of photographers? When does someone go from amateur to a hobbyist or artist?

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Devious Comments

FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013

Sorry, but your termnology misses the mark by a mile. A Pro is someone who makes his living at something while an amateur doesn't. There are a lot of pros who suck ass and a lot of amateurs who have loads of talent, they just don't get paid for it. Hobbyist and amateur are synonyms. An artist is pretty much anyone producing, or trying to produce, art.

However, that said, there is a difference between casual shooters and serious photographers. Casual shooters are the ones who shoot their son's third birthday party, the family standing in front of the Grand Canyon, and so on. They are recording personal memories to share with families and friends. They produce snapshots. Serious photographers come in two varieties.

The first of these varieties are the Fine Art Photographers. They are intent on producing artwork, which will be viewed by strangers who will percieve them as artwork. They use creativity in their work, use enhancements and special effects in photoshop, even add things from other images. Landscape artists, portrait artists, illustrators of fiction, and creators of fine art (among others)  fall into this category.

The second of the two varieties is the documentary photographer. A documentary photographer produces images that purport to tell the absolute truth. Creativity is discouraged in documentary photography and photoshop is only used to bring the photo as nearly back to what the photographer originally saw in his viewfinder as possible. Photojournalists, forensic photographers and the illustrators of technical articles and documentaries fall into this category.

georgewjohnson Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
"I've heard that the amateur is someone with little or no experience in photography; the hobbyist is someone who has a lot of experience but does not pursue photography professional."

I'm an amateur which by pure definition means I simply don't make any money doing this. It's also my primary leisure-time pursuit and passion, so I'm a hobbyist too. I think it's a little unfair to say that an amateur is someone who has little experience, plenty of amateur photographers out there with 50+ years of shooting, that's hardly inexperienced but as with a lot of pursuits "amateur" has simply become a synonym for beginner.

However don't confuse either of the those designations with the quality of the work. Plenty of photographers of both classes ( paid and unpaid ) that are stunningly good and there are plenty of top amateurs out there that can run rings around professionals. By the same token plenty of professionals that are so bad that they are a disgrace and an embarassment to the hard working professionals who are very good at their jobs.
JackMolotov3 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
ameture is literally someone who does something for the love of it.

a professional is someone who literally gets paid for it.

implication is that pros are better because they do it for a living.
hedwards Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013
The difference is that the amateur and hobbyist both get regular meals and take showers. :-P

Seriously though, the artist might be making a living at photography, otherwise they're effectively all synonymous. It gets even more muddy when you include the other possibilities.
FlyteWizard Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Student Photographer
What about student ???
Olda-G Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Amateur by definition is someone who pursues work without financial gain. They may be anywhere from a beginner to a top expert in ability. I agree with LacieMelhart that novice is a better term for the beginner. The term 'amateurish' indicates a lower level of quality, but many amateurs do profesional quality work. They aren't professionals because they don't do it for the money.

A hobbyist or enthusiast would indicate someone who devotes considerable time and effort to their pursuit. They are amateurs by definition but not novices.

On DA there are categories like hobbyist photographer and hobbyist artist. Since DA is an art community, I am assuming that photography on here is photography pursued for artistic purposes (not journalism or scientific documentation). With that being said the difference between a fine art photographer and a fine art photographer who is described as an artist would be that the artist also pursues forms of art other than photography such as drawing and painting.

Certainly one can be an amateur, a hobbyist, and an artist simultaneously so these are not really categories that differentiate.
roninbearz Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013   Photographer
"Thatīs what all we are. Amateurs. We donīt live long enough to be anything else." - Charlie Chaplin
LacieMelhart Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Photographer
Amateurs, by definition, engage in activities yet do not pursue the activity for financial supplementation.

Hobbyist is basically that same definition, and honestly I would just group them together.

Professional is doing something to bring in an income.

Basically what we end up with are two sections that do the same thing. So perhaps instead of Amateur for 'beginners' maybe we should put to use a word that will actually coincide with 'new'. Perhaps we can term the word Novice for those who are new or with little experience. :)
PoultryChamp Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I forgot all about Novices. :D
10000Greetings Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
And curiously, where would the people who do it as a hobby, but are serious about exhibiting art or selling at art shows fit in?
LacieMelhart Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Photographer
I would say that's still a hobby. It's not your root source of income but gives you a little extra spending cash.
rcooper102 Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012
I wouldn't necessarily call an amateur inexperienced. I would merely define it as someone who has developed a passion for photography currently making or planning to make the transition from hobbyist to professional. Many amateur photographers actually have a greater degree of photographic knowledge and skill than a lot of working professionals because they are free to invest more time into actually honing their style and skill while professionals quickly find that they most devote their energies to marketing, selling, and business.

As for the artist thing I think there is a line between artist and "fine art" photographer. I would argue that anyone that leverages creativity in order to make photos is in artist. (Most photographers fall into this category with the exception of very technical photographers such as crime scene, accident, and medical photographers where there really are no creative decisions being made). A fine art photographer, however, would be someone who uses their photography primarily as a method of expression. Whether they are pro or hobbyist makes little difference.
Ruwich Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Amateur's kinda like the "noobs" in the gamer world. They absolutely have little to no experience whatsoever, and are kinda like starting out.

Hobbyists aren't serious with their art and are just doing things as... a hobby! Like when playing piano, there's the hobbyist (no theory, just play whatever song you want) and the serious player (exercises, theories, exams).

Professionals are really serious about their art and people pay them big bucks to do art. They're kinda like professional actors (I'm talking Hollywood or the like) to those actors you see on Youtube (those are hobbyists).

Hope I helped. :)
georgewjohnson Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
You've obviously never met some of the serious amateur photographers on the competition circuits.

Take a look at Justin Minns work, he's an amateur/hobbyist who's been published countless times : => [link]
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