When did amateur become the opposite of professional? When did amateurs lose the right to get paid for their craft? I did some study and found that the word amateur originally had nothing to do with getting paid or not—it had everything to do with passion. The word ‘amateur’ is from French and gained its roots from Italian amatore, from Latin amator (lover) and amare (to love).
If an amateur is someone who loves to do something, how did we get it twisted with being unprofessional and untrained? The answer s pretty simple: Rather than working through the rigors of development that accountability puts on us, we amateurs decided to go the lazy route. Who says you can’t love a craft and make money working it.
My friend and pastor, Jimmy Rollins (jroll.tv) is an excellent cook. No, I mean gourmet-style excellence! On several occasions I have told him that he cooks like it’s a science. Are you saying if he were to offer his passion for money he wouldn’t get paid handsomely, I know he will because I would be first in line!
The question is what have we forgotten that our love and unbridled passion drove us to:
Education: Amateurs are often referred to as being ‘self-taught’. We naturally want to learn more about who and what we love. I recently met a new friend whose pictures blew me away. And guess what the first question was after I hurriedly went through the pleasantries: “How do you do that?” What if we went back to learning? What if we went back to buying any books, watching any videos and joining any classes that enhanced our amateur gifts? No one would call us untrained anymore.
Experiment: I remember the night I got my first camera. I took pictures of everything—my wife was sleeping on the couch, you can only imagine what blackmail photos I have in my possession! I experimented with the ISO, f-stop and shutter-speed. I wasn’t going to be some automatic-settings photographer. I was going to learn to do it the hard way, even if it meant loosing half of my first 100 pictures over-exposure and bad focus. I was given wholeheartedly to experimenting till I got it right. What would happen if we brought the adventure back to our craft? What if we stopped letting the boundaries of the rules hold us back and we pressed for territories uncharted? No one would call us sub-par any more.
Criticism: The very first opportunity I got I showed some of my pictures to an established photographer. She could see my excitement. She did her best to criticize me without quenching the flame of my passion. But I was willing to hear what I needed to do to improve. I was on my way to being Picasso; I was not going to let pride get in the way! What if we let fine criticism mold our raw talents? What if we got down from our proud or carefree horses and actually applied the advices we have been given? No one would call us lacking-in-skill any more.
Sacrifice:: I recall the sleepless nights that followed acquiring my new camera. I was either out on the porch trying out nighttime photography, reading some book or watching some videos. I lost hours of sleep in a bid to hone my skills. What if we went back to giving up whatever we needed to for our love? What if nothing was too much a sacrifice to make? No one would call us unprofessional.
Who wants to be a professional if love and passion is lost?
There it is! I am calling on all the amateurs, all the loves of crafts, great and small, to pick up the paintbrush and begin making bold broad strokes on this canvas we call time. We are waiting for your masterpiece!