If you're not a professional photographer, you're not alone. While I sometimes wish I had it in me to be a professional photographer, in the end, I do not. Alas, I believe I’m better for it.
Perhaps I ignorantly believe that the life of a professional photographer is jetting around, meeting interesting people, going to interesting places, and making beautiful photographs. Perhaps my vision of a professional photographer is based on the feeling I get when I see photography from spectacularly cold and remote locations that evoke only the greatest sense of wonder in me. With that said, while I know those photographers exist, I’ve never met one. Instead, the professional photographers I know make a living as wedding and/or portrait photographers. They are still meeting interesting people and (I would hope) doing something they love and are good at.
This brings me to why I do not ever intend to be a professional photographer. I have the personal belief that we all owe it to the world to do what we are properly good at, indeed, that we are even most likely to succeed if we pursue that which we are truly most gifted at. For me, this is being a statistician. As such, photography serves as a passion without serving as an income. It is perhaps because of this that I have been able to focus exactly what styles and genres of photography I find most interesting and stimulating without concern for it affecting my pay. Arguably, the greatest benefit to not being on the professional side of things is the ability to constantly learn from those who have achieved such mastery of their trade at the expense of mistakes. I am no stranger to photographic missteps, and I do believe they’ve made me better for it. I am also aware that without the insight of better photographers, I would have made a lot more and would surely make more in my future.
All this is to say I admire professional photographers more than I can express with words. Without them, I wouldn’t be half of the photographer I am today. I use my camera and the skills I have acquired to document my life and commemorate the experiences and sights I want to never forget. If you are a professional photographer, I appreciate the work you do and hope that you use your abilities to inspire people and teach them. If you’re someone, like me, whose photographic pursuits are purely for sole enjoyment, that is great. Fstoppers and the material on it are for everyone, irrespective of where you are on the continuum of hobbyist to professional.