Post 19: The difference between a professional and an expert
When thinking of words that are misinterpreted consistently that relate to my work, "professional" jumps out almost immediately.
The word "professional" is probably used incorrectly in other areas as well, but it seems it's especially misused when it comes to photographers. For whatever reason, when people hear "professional," they assume the person is also an "expert" at whatever they do. However, these two words don't necessarily have anything to do with one another, and shouldn't be used as synonyms.
According to dictionary.com, a professional is an adjective that means "following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain." On the other hand, expert, according to dictionary.com, is an adjective that means "possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled."
So although someone may be a professional photographer (or professional whatever), that doesn't necessarily mean they're an "expert." A professional photographer is simply someone who is paid to take photos, and in all reality, that doesn't necessarily mean they're any good at it or know what they're doing. A professional could be someone who has been paid once and has no experience, or someone who has been working professionally for years. A professional could also be someone who doesn't know much about photography, but has the connections. I've seen plenty of work I'm not a fan of produced by photographers who are easily making a living, while others are creating amazing work and aren't being paid anything. Being a professional photographer isn't so much about good work as it is about being able to run a business. I think there's a quote that goes something like being a professional photographer is 80% being able to run a business and 20% actual skill (it may take even less skill).
Do I consider myself a professional? Yes. Do I consider myself an expert in photography? Not at all. I've come a very, very long way since I received my first DSLR, but there's plenty for me to still learn.
So if you're ever looking for a photographer, don't think that because photographer A is throwing around the word "professional" and photographer B isn't, that photographer A is better. Photographer A might be better, but the deciding factor should be the photographer's work and reputation of the photographer (a photographer who produces outstanding work isn't necessarily reliable), and not their vocabulary.
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Dan Pomykalski (PAWM-I-KALS-kee) is a portrait photographer based in Madison, WI. Dan works with both individual clients and larger organizations, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation, the Janesville Jets, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County. Dan was also the photo editor for the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Royal Purple, for the 2013 Spring and 2013 Fall semesters. Although Dan's clients are mostly from the Dane County area, he is more than happy to travel wherever necessary.
Although Dan is primarily a portrait photographer, he has ample amounts of experience in other types of photography such as weddings, events, product photography, real estate, and sport photography.
In 2016, expertise.com ranked Dan Pomykalski Photography the 2nd best portrait photographer in Madison, WI out of 204 others in the area.
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