Perhaps the simplest answer is that a professional model gets paid to do whatever he or she does whereas an amateur model does not. The dictionary definition of the word “professional” would agree with that statement. But I contest to say there is more that goes into it; especially in a creative industry such as modeling.
All levels of payment set aside; an amateur model is one who sees what he or she does as merely a hobby. They have deniability. It doesn’t really matter if they don’t get the gig, if they mess up on the shoot or if they burned too many bridges. After all, it is just for fun. There is not expectation of accomplishment, no real yearning to succeed and no obstacles to overcome. When things get too difficult, complicated or confusing; they can simply step away as they never truly invested themselves to begin with.
So then, what makes a model professional?
A professional model is someone who has more than just desire; they have drive. They set goals that they might not be able to achieve (which doesn’t stop them from trying). They establish strong connections and foster professional relationships. They have foresight to see beyond what they are just doing in the present. They take action on the things they are interested in as opposed to sitting on their ideas. They are pro-active as opposed to re-active. They are persistent. They seek to differentiate themselves amongst their competition. They treat others with respect. They take risks. Lastly, they hold themselves accountable for everything they do realizing that every action (or miss action) either builds to or subtracts from their personal brand.
With this new definition, would you classify yourself as a professional model? Or would you be an amateur model?