Photography: A Hobby or a Profession?

Photography: A Hobby or a Profession?

By Ronald Young – emerging Academy of Photography member

I have been interested in photography since I was a small boy and that was a long time ago.  You see I am 75 years old but I am still working part time as a Neurosurgeon.  Now I am not doing the “big time” surgery like I was in my younger years and I am contemplating retirement in the middle of next year.  I am contemplating how to spend my retirement years as I certainly will not be satisfied just to sit around and pass the time.  For the most part I have enjoyed my work for the past 42 years but it is time to embark on something new and the idea of being a professional photographer and travel writer is intriguing.   I have traveled extensively and taken photos in many places in the world and still enjoy taking photos but I have discovered that being an amateur photographer and taking what amounts to “snapshots” is not acceptable as a professional photographer.   In looking over the literally thousands of photographs that I have taken over the years, I find that most of them would only qualify as snapshots and would not be useful for virtually any commercial purpose.  I do enjoy looking at them however and considering how I might have taken them differently for professional purposes.For Academy of Photography.

I have learned that being a professional photographer combines art and science, the art of composition and the science of the camera.  It seems that both the art and science of photography can be learned but it is not simply a case of point the camera and press the shutter release, no not at all.  It is a case of carefully composing the shot, taking it from all angles, considering the lighting, the background and many other aspects as well as the intended use of the photographs such as for a stock site, for sale as fine art or as editorial photographs in a magazine or newspaper, for instance.  Then there is the science of the camera, the F stop, shutter speed, type of lens, etc.  Right now I am trying to decide if my interest level is such in becoming a professional photographer that I am willing to put in the time and energy to acquire the skills needed for such an endeavor.  I hope that the Academy-of-Photography will help and stimulate me to make the required effort.   I aspire to become a member of the Academy in order to increase my knowledge of the field and to learn from those much more skilled than I am.  For the present I will continue to take photographs using the skills which I am now learning to improve the quality and sale ability of my photos as well as to possibly supplement my retirement income.  I have written many articles published in peer reviewed medical journals and I am the co-author of one published book although writing about ones travels and writing an article for a medical journal do not necessarily require the same skills, I am accustomed to having my writing critiqued by editors and sometimes rejected so at least that part of writing I have experienced.  One of my primary goals now is to have some of my photography and travel writing published.  In future submissions to the Academy-of-Photography I will expand on those themes.
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