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

  • Renato Murakami

    Oh man, here we go. And it seemed Flickr was going towards a good direction there.
    I don’t even care about Marissa’s opinion on the subject… I mean she certainly isn’t the first CEO to either say something without thinking twice, or to have no idea on the subject she’s talking about.
    My concern is the implications of that statement. What’s in between those lines.
    If Flickr is really discarding professional photography, it also means they won’t give any support for photographers as professionals too.
    The emphasys on her statements is giving space and a way to display images with quality. If whoever is making decisions on Flickr won’t look photography as a paid profession, this means less or no attention paid for licenses, copyright, tools for EXIF, RAW files, among other things – you know, the stuff pro photographers are usually worried about.
    The message there is that Flickr isn`t a tool for photographers that have photography as a career.
    While I don’t intend to judge everything based on one line alone that a CEO made on one Yahoo event, it’s certainly something to think about. If that was not intended, then Marissa will have to retract her statement, which should be totally ok by me – everyone makes mistakes sometimes.
    I will say this though: As a CEO of a major company, she should be more careful with the stuff she says. Saying crap like professional photography not existing anymore is the exact reason why news organizations and people in general gives less and less value to it as time goes by. Stuff like that only gives fuel to news outlet trampling over photographers rights, stealing photos, not crediting or miscrediting, and thinking this is only the standard nowadays.
    That line of (non) thinking relates to several other careers other than photography. Be it the people who thinks computer graduates works fixing computers alone, the people who think they shouldn`t have to pay for design related jobs, the people who think great photographs comes from great cameras, the people who think anyone who knows how to write can be a journalist, and so forth.
    Further spreading ignorance is the last thing a CEO should do.

  • Robb Simmons

    Ya-Who? Was cool in 1992!

  • Richard

    Frankly, as a long time Flickr user I don’t give a crap what Marissa Mayer said about professional photographers. She’s pandering to Instagram users. I give a crap about how she said she’d not screw up tumblr and the very same day, screwed up flickr. The redesign of flickr is the worst redesign of a major social web site I’ve ever seen.

    And, there was no warning, it just appeared. This is not the way to keep long time “pro” users happy. I use “pro” here as flickr used to use it for paying customers (that label is now gone).

    There’s quite an uproar among long time flickr users over this and no doubt there will be some who dump the service.

    I’ve used the service since 2005 as it’s a great way to host image at multiple resolutions and embed them elsewhere. Flickr was the first service to offer this and it’s incredibly useful.

  • @CraigMinielly

    No 1 Yahoo at Yahoo – ” With so many people taking pictures…there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”

    Really?? Is that so… Ok Marissa Mayer, then your shareholders should likely be concerned, as so many of us do math that there is no need for professional math people (i.e.: Accountants) anymore… and seeing as so many of us can speak, there is also no need for Intelligent wordsmiths (i.e.: Speechwriters) either – a point you so eloquently prove with your vacuous “awesome” presentation. #ValleyGirl #Bonehed #TmblrSNAFU #GiveYour EmptyHeadAShake!

    I’m tweeting this all over, this LameBrain needs to be pulled from her own gongshow @CraigMinielly

  • elsrik

    On the contrary. Amateurs might take a notable photograph, like a home taught cook who conjures up an occasional original dish, but professionals know the technique and tricks to make the shot happen for the environment. The line between ‘professional’ and amateur has blurred significantly with the advent of power shooters and prosumer gear. Still, Gear doesn’t make the photographer. Skill, technique, and consistency make a good photographer. People can pay professionals to get the good shots in a short time, or pay prosumers and amateurs a little less for more time, and fewer quality shots. Time versus money, as dictated by experience and skill.

  • Eric

    do i still have to keep paying for flickr “pro” then??

  • He4rtOfD4rkness

    I agree that a lot of damage has been done to the photography profession…most of it coming from the snobbery of these so-called thin-skinned ‘professionals’.

  • Marcel de Jong

    Her paycheck.

  • donuts222

    I agree…while i don’t like the statement itself and futhering the thought that if you have a camera you take great picture (or better yet, if you have a [great] camera you take great pictures) — but then again, the changes were for the good of Flickr, and they were good enough that pro photographers that use it are gonna be annoyed but eventually forget about it.

    i mean come on….crappy photos have been on flickr for a LONG time….that’s nothing new….it lost it’s pro luster a long time ago. But maybe with the changes it can gain some of that back.

  • Pedro

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

  • lidocaineus

    So where does the artist fit into this? Is a fine art photographer or an experimental photographer who makes no money a professional or an amateur? I know plenty of photographers who have no interest in getting paid, but have more skill, technique, and consistency than the boring headshot professional who does the same thing day in and day out (the former are mostly photography school graduates). The problem is that everyone’s been talking about how there’s some sort of scale photographers sit on from amateur to professional, and that as you go up the scale, you automatically spend more money, get better photos, and use less time. That’s hardly the case. It’s a general rule, but it’s nowhere set in stone.

    I’m still standing by the fact that the difference between a pro and an amateur is how much you charge, and that a pro’s primary motivation is it to make money. That’s it.

    Not sure why you brought up gear; that’s got nothing to do with anything I said and I purposely avoided mentioning it.

  • Renato Murakami

    I also think lots of people are completely misunderstanding the concept of professional photography here on the comments, so let me clarify: it`s NOT about the quality of images, and it`s NOT about feeling “superior” to amateur photographers.
    Marissa does say something about “professional quality” images, but quality isn`t everything there is about any job out there.
    Can you imagine how many professions out there would be extinguished just because we have cheap tools nowadays that enables us to make pro-quality jobs?
    It`s about a job that the current society relies on for several things.
    If professional photography didn`t exist, why the heck people would go at the frontlines of countries at war to document things in an ethical way?
    How about wedding and other events` photography?
    The professional part also implies responsibility, ethics and several other factors for which people pay for.
    Are we ok with letting news outlets use poorly done or unprofessional photos as subjects of their pieces?
    This is about photography as a paid regulated profession existing for a reason.
    I`m not even talking about art here… as art can be seen as very different things depending on perspective. I`m talking about photography as a paid job.
    You know, the everyday job that you get paid for to do. The very unglamorous things that implies no superiority whatsoever. The people who get paid to do studio portpholios, event coverage, product portrait, fashion events, sports coverage, etc etc.
    Not as means to feel superior to people who don`t have many photography skills, not about the image quality that can be achieved with relatively cheap cameras nowadays.
    Just think of how many news outlets, how many individuals, and how much of society itself relies on pro photography these days.
    We`re not talking here about one good pic that one amateur photographer did that looks like it was shot by a pro photographer. This is about jobs, about responsability, about the whole notion existing for a reason.
    The other way to look at it is that lots of people out there would really love for photography not to be considered a job anymore. Then, they would be free to just steal portfolios out there as everyone on the internet is certainly not making a living with photography anymore. It could even be a way for services like Flickr getting your pics in the future and using them for their own profit saying something like: Hey, it`s not like you use photography for a living anyways right, since there`s not pro photography anymore!

  • Guest

    “Gear doesn’t make the photographer.” Yes, gear is irrellevant in this discussion, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t have any bearing, lest you assume that it’s implied, which it’s not.

    The artist, just like a pro, can charge what they want, and the beauty or quality is still in the eye of the beholder. Yet ‘artist’ and ‘photographer’ covers anything from, napkin doodle art to epic years long masterpieces. The difference is “I make a living doing X” or “I make X”. Doe people want it and does it sell. Hence, ‘professional’.

  • Guest

    “Gear doesn’t make the photographer.” Yes, gear is irrelevant in
    this discussion, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t have any
    bearing, lest you assume that it’s implied, which it’s not.

    The artist, just like a pro, can charge what they want, and the
    beauty or quality is still in the eye of the beholder. Yet ‘artist’ and
    ‘photographer’ covers anything from, napkin doodle art to epic years
    long masterpieces. The difference is “I make a living doing X” or “I
    make X”. Doe people want it and does it sell. Hence, ‘professional’.

  • elsrik

    “Gear doesn’t make the photographer.”

    Yes, gear is irrellevant in
    this discussion, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t have any
    bearing, lest you assume that it’s implied, which it’s not. The artist, just like a pro, can charge what they want, and the
    beauty or quality is still in the eye of the beholder. Yet ‘artist’ and
    ‘photographer’ covers anything from, napkin doodle art to epic years
    long masterpieces. The difference is “I make a living doing X” or “I
    make X”. Do people want it and does it sell. Hence, ‘professional’.

  • worker88

    “we wanted everyone to have professional quality photos, space, and sharing”

  • jchrtra

    Its simple those pros who have a clientele willing to pay for work do so and those who cannot are usually amateurs and artist

  • Renato Murakami

    That`s a bit shortsighted, don`t you think? It`s not a random CEO, it`s the one and only CEO. And it`s not a big corporation with the power to offend you, it`s Yahoo, that has close relations to several news outlets and that lots of people listen to.
    It`s exactly statements like hers that fuels stuff like Yahoo News and other news networks thinking they can just go to the Internet, pick photographies and images out there, and using them without credit (or even worse, crediting themselves).
    With no pro photographers, it`s not like they would be stealing other people`s livelihood, right?
    I also don`t think people should be personally offended, but this is certainly an offense to the entire professional photography community. It`s one big corporation (regardless if it`s in decline or not) saying that a certain job isn`t required anymore.

  • lidocaineus

    You’re basically pulling my argument in a direction it was never purported on going. It’s a simple statement directed at Tess that labeling yourself a pro has nothing to do with skill, and everything to do with your ability to charge money.

  • lidocaineus

    Nailed it on the head.

  • Thomas Hawk


  • elsrik

    I think you misunderstand the reason for me mentioning it, which was a clarification on the term ‘professional’, which this clearly addresses, but not in specific definition. The definition says my point clearly enough, equating the ability to sell the product as a prerequisite. Professional – “participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs”. (Merriam Webster) In your own text, you say what makes a pro is that ‘they can charge more’. Why do you think that is? Because they know *what* they are doing. In general products don’t sell without some skill applied, whether it’s in the composition, post production, or sales. Making a repeated profit off your work makes you a professional.

  • Gary Rea

    Frankly, I thought Cheri was way too kind….and I’m not even a pro, myself. By the way, I recommend that Marissa take some remedial English grammar lessons.

  • Les Dishman

    I don’t understand how this benefits those of us who currently have pro accounts. According to my understanding, I paid $29 a year for unlimited storage. Now … I have to pay $59 for 1TB … or $499 for 2TB. Am I getting that wrong? Also … what gives with the huge ramp up in cost from 1tb to 2tb? I could see a double in cost … but $59 to $499? Wow … I’m now searching for ways to download all of my photos and move to something else …

  • Maximus1323

    Yep…everyone with an iPhone is a pro and every moron with $15K to spend on a Leica M digital system is Cartier Bresson. Yep..look at all the wonderful collections of crap on Flickr, the biggest ego stroking sharing site on earth, where people feel so good at night, after collecting a bunch of bluebirds and pink balloons throughout the day. Now we can see lots more crap in high resolution. Awesome! Me, I’m still happy shoot film and sell my silver gelatin prints. Great job Marissa, for elevating the bogus, fictitious, world of online photography to new heights.

  • Magali

    This comment wins the internet.

  • Reges Delorges Pineze

    WOW! Slap on the face with nice glooves… rsrssrsr

  • Duke Shin

    Dude… We’ve all read that comment on the Leica article.

    No need to steal it word for word.

  • Luigicorelli

    There’s no such things as professional CEO’s for online companies. They just exist by themselves. The photo of her above was obviously taken by a street cam with a mind of its own. Yahoo, existing only on the Internet isn’t real. It’s only a bunch of data. So why does it need to pay for a CEO? I say she’s a fraud. Fire her Yahoo…well that is, if you really exist.

  • Matthew Santos

    I disagree- I am and have been a pro for 30 plus years- but this attitude is the reason every person with a dslr and a craigslist ad thinks they are a “pro” and are diluting the job market- unfortunately this thinking has also seeped into the industry, to the point PJ’s are losing jobs left and right- or worse, being paid way, way below a living wage

  • eqshannon

    I am a 68 year old professional photographer of 47 years. Shame for even suggesting there are no professionals left. Certainly if not said in jest, it was stated by someone who needs much more experience in this business before making such statements.
    Bob Shannon -Sun News/ComCorp -Retired
    Howard Metzenbaum and David Skylar publishers

  • Jeremy Whetzel

    Her (Marissa’s) comment angered me greatly and caused me to e-mail both Marissa and Flickr expressing my views and desire to cancel my account. As well as ask for a refund for the “Pro” account I paid for, yet no longer will be receiving. Since, there are no longer “Pro photographers” in the world.

  • Jean

    Her statement goes hand-in-hand with the phrase: “Nice photo. You must have a nice camera.”

  • lidocaineus

    Thanks for parroting definitions at me. Yes, a pro can charge more. If you think that’s solely due to skill, you should probably pay more attention to the world around you. If that were true, quality would always win, and the more you paid for a product, the more value you’d get from it.

  • lidocaineus

    So you’re saying an amateur is a person who’s unreliable?

  • Johnny Milkovich

    Well said Cheri, bad choice words by Marissa for a promo relaunch of the new flickr. I don’t believe I will renew my account with them. #nohardfeelings #yahoo

  • Greg McKay

    We should show Marissa how bad professional photographers can make her look by purposely photographing her in the most unflattering shots. The images above should have been traded out for the ones mid blink when we all look stupid.

  • Marc Osborne Jr

    Here here! Mountains out of molehills.

  • C W

    my flickr account died today.

  • Tommy Sar

    I’m strangely touched and mortified you remembered.

  • Gman

    same old story

  • eninja1983


  • chkproductions

    She could be right – everyone can be a Professional Photographer. But few are Working Photographers, those who actually make their living at it. But I do thank you for writing this article, you’ve hit the bullseye. I think Marissa is really in over her head – she isn’t that good as a CEO. And your right, she’s just trying to align herself with cool, which she is not.

  • Ben Miller

    Why would a pro photographer use Flickr anyway?

  • David W

    Yahoo proves there are no more competent CEOs at Yahoo.

  • David W

    Yahoo proves there are no more competent CEOs at Yahoo.

  • Jason Langley

    I could care less what this lady thinks, nor can I afford to. I don’t blame anybody with a “nice camera” for me not being able to make a living as a photographer. The only people I hear complaining or feeling threatened are those who refuse to embrace and capitalize on a rapidly changing industry. I can’t recall a time that Flickr was valid resource for working professionals, more of a proving ground for enthusiasts……Everything changes, EVERYTHING. I’m happy that more people have better camera’s in their hands, Heres’s why:

    -people will experience first hand that it’s not as easy as pressing a button.

    -Proliferation of DSLR’s and progressing technology has pushed possibilites into exciting new levels and challenges.

    Its my job as a “pro” to stay ahead of the curve and offer an exclusive experience that is the world and the way I see it. If I can’t do this, then I don’t deserve to call myself a pro.

  • Sneha

    Three line answer to Marissa. Bravo!

  • Regan McCaffery

    If you already have a pro account you will continue to only pay $24.99 a year and continue to get unlimited storage. Flickr just looks a lot more modern, that is the only change here for you. Don’t ever believe anything you read on the internet without checking it out for yourself.

  • Regan McCaffery

    Well said.