RIP “Professional Photographers”


…there’s no such thing as Flickr Pro, because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing really as professional photographers, when there’s everything is professional photographers. Certainly there is varying levels of skills, but we didn’t want to have a Flickr Pro anymore, we wanted everyone to have professional quality photos, space, and sharing.” – Marissa Mayer, Yahoo Event, May 2013

Woah, there, Yahoo cowgirl…let’s hold on just a second!

Before we start writing the obituary for all Professional Photographers everywhere, let’s recap what we know:

You, Marissa Mayer, were brought on as Yahoo CEO to take a company short on vision and turn it around. With a history of lackluster acquisitions, the task is daunting, to be sure. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say the purchase for $1.1 billion of Tumblr, a company that generated only $13 million last year, was surprising, to say the least, but spoke volumes as to the extent Yahoo is willing to go to increase its “coolness” factor.

The logic behind the purchase? Not cool company (Yahoo) associates itself with cool company (Tumblr) and thus, becomes cool.

If that worked, my grandma should be shopping at Forever 21.


But, I realize that it is not up to me to determine the course of Yahoo. As I sit here in my pajamas, drinking my coffee, I know that there are big power players in the world that are wheelin’ and dealin’ and quite frankly, not much of it has anything to do with me.

I don’t think anyone suffers under the delusion that you, as Yahoo CEO, are trying to better the Professional Photography Industry; that you wake up thinking, “How can I support and enhance the world of Professional Photography and those that create it? How can I, Marissa Mayer, make a difference to these artists?”

You might not think that, but let me assure you, girlfriend, WE do, which is why your statement struck such a raw nerve.

There is no such thing, really, as professional photographers… everything is professional photographers.

You know, I like to think that you were tired when you said this. It was 46 minutes into the event, after all. Maybe you were speaking on an empty stomach, you’d stayed up late watching Jimmy Kimmel and wanted to try out a comedy bit, or maybe, like me, when you open your mouth, you’re never really sure what will come out.

Oh wait, probably not…’cause you’re the CEO OF YAHOO, for cryin’ out loud!

Okay, Marissa, what the what were you thinking?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

See, I believe you have every right as CEO to make decisions for your company, but when you explain your decision by disparaging a group of professionals who already use your product, well, between you and me, girlfriend, that was NOT the smartest move. It ranks right below the Yahoo acquisition of GeoCities. (If you’re reading this and asking yourself, “What is GeoCities?” I say, “Exactly.”)

Now, I’ve been hard on you, Marissa; I admit it. But, it’s tough love. And because I really do want you to do well in your position I’m going to share a little nugget of wisdom with you. This is something those Yahoo Execs won’t tell you. In fact, this is going to come as a major shock, so you might want to sit down. Are you ready? Okay, here goes…

Not everyone with a camera is a Professional Photographer. 

Let’s just let that sink in for awhile.


Now, I know this is hard to comprehend. I mean, I know what you must think: if you have a camera and you can press a button, what more is there? I know, I know, it’s a difficult concept to grasp, you’re not alone in this, but I assure you, there are many Professional Photographers out there.

Some of us are incognito, hiding out in studios or home offices; many of us try to blend in when we work, and there are even those of us who support ourselves and our families with our craft. Mind=blown, right?

So, Marissa, in closing, I wish you well. I would write more, but I have an appointment to go do that thing done by professional photographers that don’t really exist.

(Oh, and by the way, when I researched this article regarding Yahoo, I had to Google it.)

Image credits: Shot @ Hello, India! (BLR) by Neo-grapher, Forever 21 – Columbiana Mall by daysofthundr46, Fortune Most Powerful Women Dinner With Marissa Mayer by Fortune Live Media, Cameras everywhere by noraaaaaaa

  • Rotimi Ekperigin

    The different between pro and amateur is pretty simple actually – for the one its a job that makes money, for the other its a hobby. Getting paid to produce a quality product in a short amount of time, with good results each time, is not as easy as some would like to believe.

  • MewDeep

    True. It made anyone with $30 to spare a “pro.”

  • Vlasta Pilot

    Cheri you are a genius! So well written) Love it!

  • Koko Nut

    professional? nope, not me. not by any means. but i love my hobby, i do pretty well at it. i even have some fans of my work and have earned a buck or two. some of the money i made came thru flickr, hmmm… earned money? does that make me a “professional”? guess not, according to SHE who should know.

    everyone seems so fixated on her callous, by now famous comment that i believe they are missing the big picture. her goal is to profit from the popularity that flickr already enjoys. that popularity was built on the hard work of professionals and hobbyists alike. flickr was built by its USERS. those users paid for and created a site that was the envy of all other photosharing sites in the world. and now she wants to cash in, overnight, on that giant reputation by ostracizing those very people that made the site what it is. no morals, no ethics. eye on her own bottom line above all else. no surprise there. isn’t that the way of the world today?

  • Pifpof

    This article has taken the comment too personal, has changed the context of the comment and is unnecessarily too harsh. Thumbs down from this reader.

  • R Christopher North

    Hmm, I wonder who she turns to for those head-shots, and baby pics of her kid??? I bet a Pro-Photographer!

  • James

    Just one little thought (as a pro). The next time this lady needs some PR photos taken I am guessing she will use some random person from the street clutching a 3 mega pixel 15 year old entry level digital camera. After all, anyone can take good photos right??? Then of course there is the editing, then again why bother when the photo will be of such staggering quality in the 1st place!!! This lady was employed to her current role based on her being a professional therefore she should hopefully understand & respect that professionals exist in many walks of life and not just hers. Final thought – if I were to buy Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari would it make me an F1 driver …………. if only!!!

  • propro

    There is no such thing as pro photographers in the internet world it is more or less simply good or bad, popular or not. Just because a “pro” makes money with their camera doesn’t mean they have to have this designation on every social media site. In REAL LIFE there is a bit of a crisis as to what a professional photographer really is. The reasons why are obvious. Don’t let the internet define you and just settle down….

  • vale1005

    While it’s obviously a dumb statement, I for one am not getting my panties in a bunch. While this site’s comments overall aren’t as bad as others… I’ve noticed way too many people with a camera who read photo related sites, are quite pretentious.
    To serious, too rigid, to all knowing.
    As a pure amateur, I KNOW there are “pros”.

  • Zane Richards

    But the amateurs cannot take photos as good as the top professionals, that’s flat out untrue. It’s more than just the camera(one of the big myths in photography is better camera = better photos), it’s the eye, the mind and the experience behind it operating the equipment. I don’t know where you get your information and numbers but it’s all speculation. I’ve been shooting for 15 plus years(and I am not a professional as I do not have the proper training and experience). I have seen clueless individuals with huge DSLR cameras doing nothing but taking crappy images, and I have seen true professionals using the cheapest cameras possible and getting some amazing shots. So give me a break, you clearly do not understand.

  • Zane Richards

    Another person making the incorrect statement of “it’s the equipment not the photographers…” *sigh* Wow no wonder professionals get so ticked off, with people making ridiculous statements like yours. BTW I am not a pro.

  • Joseph Fernandes

    I too think so every photographer is great and has its capabalities. Its only fame and experience