If you are unwilling to accept the competition, then you should have chosen an different profession, because 'twas always thus.
You see, Quentin? You really, really do not
get it: it was not
always thus. I have been in that world since 1960 and have seen a lot of it.
I had to spend the best part of six years working in professional photography before it was possible to become a self-employed professional myself and run a business. Amateur competition wasn't even thought about, and there were always great amateurs around, as you rightly pointed out. The two worlds were totally apart.
Reference is made to wedding photographers. With respect, and at the risk of causing unintentional pain, I do not consider that a branch of professional photography in the sense of skill beyond the amateur; there, an amateur can often match the 'pro' sector. Yes, it churns money so has to be deemed professional, in that sense, but that is another matter. It is a very different sector with far fewer knowingly educated critical clients than photography intended for commercial markets, which stock is. The problem is that in the commercial (business) sector, the availability of cheap material, in a graphics world now run by accountants and lawyers rather than by creative minds, it becomes a requirement
to use that material. When the man at the top only understands numbers, there is little alternative for the lowly art department but to follow budgetary dictates.
Of course, it is also a matter of wider education. The attitude that governments display towards such matters as copyright, 'orphan' works, registration/qualifications before practice is permitted, all those sorts of things, just perpetuates a situation where the arts are considered a pastime, a hobby, not to be taken seriously. Neither can it have helped that so many within the art world appear to walk with a heavy, anti-business tilt towards the left.
But I ain't gonna be able to fix it! That's for a younger generation to fight.