I am currently studying photography at an art school. I want to enter a few photo contests, however a few of them are for amateurs only. I don't make any money off of my photos just yet, am I still considered an amateur as far as these contests are concerned?

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    I think the only answer to this can be "ask the organisers". – Philip Kendall Aug 8 '13 at 21:27

Most contests that have an amateur category clearly define what they consider the difference between pro and amateur to be. If you can't find it in the fine print of the contest rules, contact the organizers and ask them. Most of the ones I've looked at fall into three broad categories:

  • A professional is a photographer who derives all or almost all of their income from photo related activities. Anyone else is an amateur.
  • A professional is a photographer who derives more than a set percentage of their income from photo related activities. Often this will range anywhere from 20-50%. Anyone else is an amateur.
  • A professional is a person who has been paid more than a set amount over a certain time period for photo related activities (i.e. $250 in the past year or $1,000 in the last 2 years). Amounts and time periods vary widely.

In your case as a student, I have not seen any amateur contests that would disqualify you for that reason. Some amateur contests designed specifically for students may have certain age or grade limits.

Good Luck!


Defining who is a professional is a question of where to draw the line. It is easier to say who surely is an amateur.

If a person has interest in art and takes lessons in local photography club organized photography courses, and local art school offered short classes, and has his/her work sometimes on the walls of a local (non-profit, just for showing) art gallery receiving comments and critique, and this person has been doing this for years and years giving him/her pretty good knowledge and presumably skills in producing art, would that person be still an amateur? I say yes, of course that person is an amateur. It is not a sign of professionalism if you are simply trying to learn more about your dear hobby.

Being a student in an art school is not qualifying anybody as professional.

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