Do I have to be in business to be a "real" photographer?

Do I have to be in business to be a "real" photographer? This is the question I have been asking myself lately.  And, it's a question I have been discussing with some of my close photographer friends.

I have always been in business.  Before I was a photographer, I ran a very successful online retail store.  Before that, I learned everything about running a business, sales and marketing from helping my parents with theirs.  So yeah, you can say "entrepreneurship" kind of runs in the family.

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After having a professional photography business for more than 3 years now, I am reevaluating this decision.  Maybe, being a professional photographer is just not my cup of tea.  Let's face it,  I don't enjoy sharing my family time on the weekends after homeschooling my 4 boys and devoting time in teaching a workshop all week long.

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At the end of the day, there are 3 things I absolutely LOVE in photography:

  1. documenting my family
  2. travel photography
  3. teaching Embrace The Grain Workshop

I don't care if I ever sell a print or get published.  If I do, awesome!  If I don't, I'll just keep on doing what I am doing right now - enjoying my love in creating and sharing photography and art.

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So, my question is "do I have to be in business to be "legit"?  Can I just shoot only my kids and family and still be a "photographer"?  I know many online workshop instructors are professional photographers, some are "super stars" in photography.  Can a hobbyist photographer get the same respect as a pro?

What do you think?

I would love to know how many Little Bellow Fans are professional photographers and how many are hobbyists (see poll below)?  And if you are a hobbyist photographer, do you feel you are less "real" because you don't take client sessions? Leave me some advice friends!

[poll id="3"]