Forty years ago nobody would buy a Brownie box camera and think to offer their services as a professional photographer. Around thirty years ago Kodak and a couple other manufacturers came out with “instamatic” cameras. Still, no one would think that with an instamatic camera they were equipped to offer professional photography services.
As camera technology progressed, more and more “bells and whistles” got added to the improving models of what then became known as “point and shoot” cameras. Still, nobody with just a point and shoot camera would consider himself or herself a professional photographer.
You see, back in the days before the advent of digital cameras, film was the medium for recording photographs. And before the invention of instamatic and point and shoot cameras, you had to actually know how to use the controls on a camera in order to properly expose the film to make a photograph.
Instamatic and later point and shoot cameras enabled millions of people to make snapshots and record their lives and those of their families and friends. Professional cameras with changeable lenses and aperture and shutter speed controls continued to be the tools of professional photographers and serious amateurs.
Point and shoot cameras designed for hobbyists proliferated and millions of people began to enjoy the hobby of photography. And certainly many got to be pretty good at composing and creating photographs with them. But even if all their friends told them what great photographs they made, do you think a person with a point and shoot camera would have the gumption to claim to be a professional and offer their services for hire? I think not.
Now days with all the available digital SLR cameras geared to the hobbyist consumer with a price tag that is within the reach of many hobbyists, one cannot tell by looking at the camera whether the user knows what they are doing or not! Why not? Because all the DSLRs have Program modes of operation that enable the user to use them just the same as a point and shoot camera.
The advances of digital photography have been absolutely wonderful! Now days a camera is a complex computer with a lens, and most people with a little practice can make some pretty good photographs with them. Certainly the optics for modern DSLRs are vastly improved over the point and shoot optics of yesteryear.
The downside of all this progress is that more and more hobbyists with nice DSLRs are marketing themselves as professional photographers, and charging for their services without knowing anything about photography except how to frame a picture and press the shutter release. As a result many people are being duped into hiring amateurs, and are buying amateur quality photographs because they think they are getting a good deal because the price is low. And because they don’t know how to separate the amateurs from the pros when choosing a photographer to do a job for them, whether it be portraiture or commercial photography.
Caveat…Let the consumer beware!