My mind keeps returning to the validity of the statement “Amateur photographers are stealing work of pro photographers”. This thinking has caused long emotional discussions in photography groups on FB (and I am sure forums elsewhere) and an undeserved hate for amateurs (which are always entering the market). To that statement, I would say “Yes, but…”

Thinking about target markets from marketing theory and you would work out that pros and amateurs serve different markets. Each target market or group of consumers has their own different demands for quality and therefore different price ranges.

If you are a medium to high pro (in terms of price and hopefully quality), then maybe you shoot R30 000 weddings, fashion magazine covers, etc. And with your reliability, unique style and resources (a team of assistants and make-up artists, hired/bought equipment), the clients you have are not going to be able to replace you with an amateur one-man team who lacks resources, exprience, reliability, etc.

If you are at the top of end of the amateurs in terms of quality, you might even be close to or better than those at the bottom end of the pro togs. But the amateur can afford to make short term losses and undercharge, because they probably have a day job and are doing the gig more for fun.

Therefore if you are at the bottom end of the pros, it is maybe fair to feel threatened by amateurs. But only by the really good amateurs. The guy who did his first ever shoot last week with his new DSLR is not going to steal your business. In fact, I think the huge amount of amateurs who are starting out and buying new equipment – they are the reason why equipment is widely available and affordable. Otherwise only pro level equipment would be available and there would be few shops selling them.

Also, to clarfiy on being at the the bottom end of pros, you might be bad or lazy. You you might be hard working and take great pictures. You just lack the recognition in the industry, years of experience, top of the range equipment, etc. for handling situations, to be to able to charge what a medium-priced pro charges.