Photography Tips – Article 5: The difference between amateur and professional

Photography Tips – Article 5: The difference between amateur and professional

Author: Richard Clarke Published: 9th April 2014 10:17

Richard Clarke Photography - excellent groom photo 

A little while ago I was listening to LBC radio and the DJ was trying to make the point that professional photographers were no longer needed because modern digital cameras are so good. On that particular point he was correct, modern cameras are incredible, for very little money you can buy cameras that will take images of the same quality as the pro’s. So was the DJ correct? Well for the first time in my life I called a radio phone in show to put across the professional’s view point.

Whilst a modern camera can give you a technically proficient shot pretty much every time i.e it will most likely be sharp thanks to auto focus and will in most cases be correctly exposed thanks to the automatic light metering systems built in-but that is it. What it cannot do and never will be able to is to decide when to press the button. “The decisive moment” the term coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson best describes that sixth sense a good professional will have, knowing when to press the button to achieve a great moment – which to me encapsulates what photography is all about.

Richard Clarke Photography stunning winter wedding photo 

Moving beyond capturing a moment in time a professional will know how to compose a photograph to achieve maximum impact, what elements in the picture being taken should be included or left out. He will decide on the creative differences between different combinations of shutter speed and aperture (for more info check out Article 3). He will decide on how best to exposure the picture, automatic exposure usually opts for a safe middle ground when it comes to exposure but the pro will look at the shot being taken and decide what are the key elements of the picture and how best to expose them.

And when it comes to photographing people a good pro will be able to put their subject at ease, usually because everything he is doing with his camera is second nature so he is able to concentrate on the subject, not the camera and the myriad of technical decisions that need to be made, a bit like driving, an experienced driver does all the stuff like gears and steering without thinking about it.

Richard Clarke Photography stunning winter wedding photo 

Finally I personally think that the difference between a pro and a good amateur is that the professional will deliver every time no matter what the circumstances, no matter what difficulties they face a good pro will know how to overcome them and deliver great photographs time and time again and now where is more relevant to this than wedding photography. When you attend a wedding you never know quite what is going to happen. The weather can be atrocious, the bride may and probably will be late, cameras and lenses can fail, venues not ready on time, late registars and as a professional you have to adapt and deliver. All of these have happened to me one time or another – I have even done a wedding were the groom was assigned a policeman for protection because his bride to be’s first husband had issued threats serious enough for the police to be concerned. This led to the groom being nervous about even stepping outside!

So anyone who feels that the role of the professional has diminished because cameras are so good, think again!

Article by Richard Clarke

Thank you Richard for your latest article contribution to AboutMyArea/EN9 website. Looking forward to more interesting and informative photography articles to come.  Check out his previous Photography Tips articles in this section on how to get the best photos of children, landscapes, advice on shutter speeds and what sort of camera to buy.

Richard Clarke ABIPP is a qualified photographer with the British Institute of Professional Photography with over twenty year’s experience and numerous National and Regional awards for his work.

He also runs Richard Clarke training, which organises group and 1:1 courses on all aspects of photography training from complete beginners to professional.  Check out his dedicated training course website for details:

For more information please see Richard Clarke Photography website:

You might also like to read our news article on Richard’s change of name and approach:

If you would like to contribute by writing an article for this website on any subject, please get in touch by calling 01992 651066 or email 

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