with Courtney Slazinik
When to Call Yourself a Photographer

Are you a photographer?

This question may stop you dead in your tracks when asked in person. I know I used to stumble around this and fumble out a half hearted answer of how I just love photography.

It wasn’t until I overheard my husband mention to someone that I was a photographer that it got me thinking…am I a photographer? Am I good enough to call myself a photographer?

When to call yourself a photographer via Click it Up a Notch

How do you know when it’s time to call yourself a photographer?

I wish I had a concrete 3 step answer for you but I don’t. I do have some things for you to consider. Once I mastered some of these things, I slowly started to feel comfortable calling myself a photographer.

  • No.
    Consistent work

    Are you able to consistently create the kind of images you want? Have you moved past getting your exposure correct only by chance? I felt much more comfortable with calling myself a photographer when I was consistently getting the images to turn out how I wanted.

    Keep in mind your style may change and evolve as you evolve as a photographer and that is fine. I’m not suggesting that you have to know exactly what your style is. I know mine has changed over time.

  • No.
    Know your gear

    I’m a firm believer that the camera does not make you the photographer. Just because someone has a $2,000 camera does not mean they are a better photographer than someone with a $500 camera. We all know it isn’t the gear but the person behind it that creates the image (yes, great gear helps) but a good photographer can create stunning images with a DSLR or camera phone. The best thing you can do is learn to use what you have. Know the ends and outs of your camera.

    I often get asked when someone should upgrade their gear. I always say that you should only upgrade once you know what the new camera can do that your current camera can’t do. If you can’t answer that question you haven’t out grown your camera and don’t need to invest in a new body.

  • No.
    Believe in yourself

    If you don’t believe you are a photographer, neither will the people around you. I know I said my husband talked about me being a photographer which got me thinking and I’m blessed that he believes in me. That isn’t always going to the case. If you aren’t 100% confident in yourself yet then you know the saying…fake it till you make it. Seriously though, you need to have confidence in yourself, your skills, and your work.

  • No.
    You don't have to be in business to call yourself a photographer

    I really want to drive this point home. I thought for a long time I couldn’t call myself a photographer because I didn’t, nor did I want to, own a photography business. I was just a mom with a camera. However, there are MANY happy hobbyist out there who don’t own or no longer own a photography business and call themselves photographers. Now when I get asked if I’m a photographer, I quickly follow it up with, “Yes, but I don’t take on clients.” You may get a puzzled look from the person asking the question. That is fine. I inform people that I have a passion for teaching photographer and prefer teaching over working with clients.

Whatever your reason, you don’t need to feel less like a photographer because you don’t own a photography business.

It’s your turn.

Tell me in the comments below when you knew you were ready to call yourself a photographer.

  • April 23, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Thank you for such a motivating article :-) Alexandra

  • April 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Well said! Would you ever answer with “I’m a hobbyist photographer.” ? I caught myself recently saying “I’m a photographer. Do you mind if I get a photo of this?” inside of a really cool old fashioned shop. I wonder if I said “I’m a photographer” because I wanted the photo or if I really feel like I am, even though I consider myself a hobbyist (i.e., not a professional). Thanks for posting this! :)

  • Cyndi
    April 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Thank you for giving those of us who photograph as a hobby the freedom to call ourselves “photographers”. Great article!

  • Edda
    April 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Thank you for this article..

  • Bre
    April 23, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    I usually say I am a hobbyist. I do like your “yes, but I don’t take clients right now” because of course everyone wants their photo taken and right now I only want to take pictures of things I want to take pictures of lol. A selfish hobbyist.

    • January 10, 2015 at 10:15 AM

      Haha Bre, this had me laughing!

  • Patty
    April 23, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Now I know I am!! My husband also said the same thing to people around, he always tells me how good I am with pictures. I always felt that I was someone who just love to have a camara on my hands. But now with what you said and with what he said YES!! I am a photographer.

  • Tram Patam
    April 23, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Thank you for this. I’m at that point where I’m ready to take on clients. Real paying ones. Which means, I’m confident to say that I am a photographer. I appreciate all the insights you have to give.

  • Mickey
    April 23, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    The single mist important component of a camera is the 12″ behind it.
    Ansel Adams

  • meg
    April 23, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Great article!

  • Cindy Monterroso
    April 23, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Thanks so much for all your articles, they really inspire me and motivate me to keep moving forward in beeing a photographer, and must of all to call myself like that. I’ve been learning so many things since I’m following your posts, I am really gratefull. Thank you!

  • April 23, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    For a long time I fretted about “taking the next step”. This site helped me realize that for me it’s not about being “pro”: I’m in love with “the journey” – that’s the single most important thing to me. I’m a hobbyist but I’d call myself “a photographer” in a heartbeat. It’s about the craft and the creation.

  • April 23, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    I think I knew when I started coming up with more and more photos that required little to no editing. There are too many people that feel that the camera makes the photographer and that’s highly unfortunate. I shoot with a Fuji X-E1 and hear it all the time about how it’s not as good as a DSLR and the MP’s are way too low. Well I think my work speaks for itself and I saved a few bucks to be able to get other peripherals that I needed!!

  • mary
    April 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    I was born a photographer. I have always called myself a photographer.

  • Kristen
    April 23, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    Great article! ! I’m always wondering when to upgrade my camera and after reading this article and asking myself that question I realize I still don’t know my camera inside and out

  • April 24, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    I still don’t say “I am a photographer” every time people ask what I do. However, I became a little more confident with calling myself a photographer when I recently shot a newborn session and the photos turned out just like I wanted them to. For me, newborn, maternity, and child photography is the ultimate goal. Therefore, I was super proud when this session went well.

  • Meg
    April 24, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Absolutely love this picture you posted!

  • Amanda
    April 24, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Wonderful article, thanks for sharing!!!

  • Jen
    April 29, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I am so in love with this blog! I have just started venturing into what I want my photography to be, a hobby or a career and finding my style. My hubby to be is always telling people about my photography and showing them stuff I have shot and I have had a couple of ppl ask me to do weddings for them which is not my thing and I was never sure how to handle those request. I think I am for sure more into landscapes then people. I still have moments when I don’t think of my self as a photographer until I do this or win this or whatever “this” is but I am getting to the point where i think of myself as one more than I don’t
    I just love your blogs and I am so glad that I came across your site!

  • Val
    April 29, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Great article. I have always lacked the confidence to say I am a photographer, but now I can happily say I am!

  • Glenys Wild
    April 29, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    When I visited a camera club with my husband (also a photographer) and realised that I was taking photographs as good as any of those on display and without so much of their computer enhancement. I love striving for the perfect shot with just my camera.

  • April 29, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    I started calling myself a photographer after I sold my first piece. I think for me it was a case of believing in myself. When someone else validated my work by paying for it, I finally felt I could call myself a photographer. Of course in reality I had been a photographer for many years. Great article thanks and hopefully it will give others the courage to take this step.

  • April 30, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Interesting! I don’t usually encounter the question of “Are you a photographer?”, but more “Are you a professional photographer?”
    I defined myself as a photographer, I guess, the moment I realized that photography mattered to me, and it mattered to me to a point where I wanted to capture my life through photographs. A second milestone was wanting to truly learn how to capture better images.
    The professional photographer bit? I still struggle with that, because the definition of “professional” is so loaded. I bet we can start a whole separate conversation on that alone :)

    • Deb G
      January 10, 2015 at 1:04 PM

      that’s what I’ve heard all my life, and still lack the confidence! Everyone ask me if I’m a Professional Photographer, and I always respond with it’s a hobby.

  • April 30, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    I started answering “yes” to that question when I got my first referral from a previous client. Referrals are the best compliments!

  • May 3, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    I am so nervous to fail to meet the expectations of my clients that I set low expectations and undermine confidence others have in me. I really struggle with putting myself out there. I absolutely love visiting this site, all of the positivity and tips/tricks. Thank you!

  • May 24, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    Thank you so much for this post; and everyone’s comments.

  • chastity
    August 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Thank you for this blog. I realized I was a photographer when all my pictures since I was 5 have me holding a camera. Memories are all we have that is truly our own. Preserve ur past in a pic.

  • November 18, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    Since getting serious about the craft about 6 years ago, I’ve grown tremendously. However, I’ve always referred to myself as a “picture-taker” because I didn’t have a clearly distinctive “voice” to my images. I so appreciate your article and the freedom it allows all of us who love and share the craft to walk in. I have indeed nailed all of your parameters listed above so effective today, I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER! Thanks for all you do…!

  • kelly
    November 18, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    I started calling myself a photographer the second my friends and started asking me to take their photos all the time. I was always the selected one to take “the best photos”. I pondered this question though and thought it would be appropriate to call oneself a photographer when you very paid for a job, however big or small. Have you set up a scene to shoot? Have you brought in props for a photo shoot? These are the kind of things that photographers do. :)

  • November 19, 2014 at 1:08 AM

    This is such a great question (and a great article)! I started calling myself a photographer when I got past the point of wondering if I was going to get any good shots to KNOWING I was going to get good shots. The consistency is key.

  • January 10, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    I was ready to call myself a photographer when I could look at my own work and be impressed with it, as well as be able to replicate the same look if I wanted it again.

  • January 10, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Thought provoking article – thanks so much for sharing! My husband, family members, and friends call me a photographer and although sometimes I feel like one, I frequently feel like a fraud! lol I usually amend the label with “student of photography” because I feel there is still SO much for me to learn. I am getting close to feeling more confident to call myself a photographer – just haven’t had that “aha!” moment.

  • Kathy
    January 10, 2015 at 1:05 PM

    Great article–I love to write and I love to take pictures–have been doing both most of my life–and still I would hesitate to call myself a writer or a photographer. It seems like having something published makes it so or not so??? I will, after reading your excellent article, contemplate. :o)

  • Silvina
    January 10, 2015 at 1:25 PM

    Very interesting! my husband tell everyone I’m a photographer before I could say it to myself. After 20 years studiyng taking pictures and so on… last year I could say, when people asked me, I’m a photographer. :) Not for clients, just for myself :D… I’m starting my professional work in photography as a photo retoucher though

  • January 11, 2015 at 2:22 PM

    When I started getting enough requests for sessions that I decided to do a separate Facebook Page instead of using my personal one for people unrelated to me I decided maybe it was more than just “snapping a few photos”. 2015 is definitely a year of new focus in my “Hobby” for me!

  • Jenna austin
    January 12, 2015 at 1:54 AM

    great article!

  • Jessica
    April 22, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    Great article. Reading it made me realize that I should probably work more on producing more work AND knowing my gear!

  • Linda Roy
    July 5, 2016 at 2:51 PM

    I agree, you don’t have to run a business to consider yourself a photographer; there are plenty of fine art photographers out there. 🙂📷

  • Herb
    March 9, 2018 at 4:12 PM

    I came across this article on your site while looking for info how to make photo coasters. This is a great article. While I can take and make a photo. I also stumbled with the very same question. While I’m a hobbyist by my definition I always told my self, I would when I sold my first print. But within the last two weeks. I’ve had inquiries and requests for jobs to consider.

  • Kitty Ann
    April 12, 2018 at 4:07 PM

    It was always my understanding that a “Professional Photographer” was someone who had an education in the field, a minimum of a B.A. in order to get jobs in the field working for companies, magazines, in advertising, etc. Don’t expect to get a job in a major company without a degree. Highly competitive field. Anyway, that would be my definition of a genuine professional photographer. Today, in the digital world, everyone thinks they are a professional photographer just because they took a few good landscape/wildlife photos and posted them on facebook and got a ton of “likes”. I have a friend who recently started selling her work and she does not even know the basics. She calls herself a photographer. Does not even know what “aperture” is!! I am a hobbyist. I might even call myself a photographer. I have even sold some stuff but I would never call myself a professional. There is just way too much I don’t know. Just because you can take better photos than your family and friends who find your work awesome compared to their snapshots does not make you a professional photographer. Clients will judge your work in comparison to other professional photographers, not to their snapshots. Sorry to be a downer, but everyone seems to think they are a photographer today.

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  • Jose
    February 10, 2019 at 1:29 PM

    Thank you for the article; I’ve been asking myself this question for years. I started shooting as a teen, stopped for several years and picked it up again a few years ago with a Nikon D3300. I recently got paid as a videographer assisting a fellow fotog on a birthday shoot. I have been getting offers to shoot birthdays and baby showers and am teaching myself new things as I go along. I am getting close to retirement and plan on making this hobby a way of staying busy and possible making it a part-time business. I was reluctant to call myself a photographer but now that I am getting job offers, I guess I may be a photographer.

  • Olivia
    July 31, 2019 at 2:51 PM

    I probably wouldn’t class my self as a photographer yet, as I am only a teenager and have a camera from 2011 and currently can’t afford a new one but I love taking photos I do it so frequently. I love experimenting with all the different equipment; power paint, prisms, glass balls etc. My friends love modeling for me and we have such a blast when taking the photos so I know some basics and would love to learn more.

  • Melanie
    September 27, 2019 at 5:26 PM

    Thank you so much for this article! I was struggling with this and your points helped me to put everything into perspective and after reading your article, I feel confident enough to call myself a photographer!

  • Carl Post
    November 29, 2019 at 12:57 AM

    I feel more confident now thanks to this article, thank you, because I just thought in my head “hey this is a good picture” but now after reading this I think more of that.

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