Jack, I think that's a pretty accurate description of the difference. On the other hand, even though I sell prints out of local galleries I consider myself an amateur.
I would consider you a semi-pro (or pro) based on how much of your living/income is generated by your photography.
The trouble with the word, "amateur" is that its original meaning has become corrupted with the introduction of the idea that "amateur" implies "novice."
Well, I don't think the problem is with the "word" amateur so much as with people's misinterpretation of it.
I have seen some absolutely astounding images presented by amateurs ... and some absolutely mediocre images posted by "pros" ...
Therefore, strictly-speaking, the dividing line between amateur and pro has to do with income, not talent. Naturally, income is generally the result of talent and skill, but not always. I have read books on macrophotography (that generated income) with work in there I would have thrown away.
As an amateur (meaning I do it because I love it) I do a lot of free work for which a pro would charge. For instance, I do street photography for the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership's web site and publications, and for a new organization in Manitou Springs that's in the process of building an advanced web for the city. I'd be stealing work from the pros if either outfit could afford to pay for the kind of work I do, but they can't. I spend a lot of hours on the street. If I were charging on an hourly basis it'd break their banks. And I've never heard of a pro willing to do that kind of work. The pro would start out with a shooting script -- one that would include certain buildings, shops, people in posed situations, etc. But since I don't work from a script -- just wander and keep my eyes open -- I come up with the unexpected, which is exactly what they're looking for. I guess my point is that when you come right down to it, it's pretty hard to defend the kind of categories we've both been making.
I would disagree with you Russ.
I think the difference you have just described has to do with love and passion
versus a lack thereof.
You clearly have a passion for street photography that you need to express (love to express). There are many professionals who donate their time/works for free, in all manner of ways, in all manner of different industries ... simply because they are giving by nature and enjoy
their work. Though they may (at times) work for free, they are still true professionals, by definition, because their income/expenses are paid for by their works also. Just because you enjoy doing something extra, or give some of your time/efforts away, doesn't mean you still aren't a true professional, provided the sum and substance of your income comes from that same vocation also.
The type of person you describe, who wouldn't do anything for free, or who wouldn't devote some of his time/efforts for his own personal enjoyment, I would describe as "loveless," or "soul-less." Such a person might be a professional also, in that his income is generated by his photography, but his motives are 100% for profit and nothing else.
So I don't think these distictions confuse the definition of professional, versus semi-pro, versus amateur at all ... I think they distinguish people who are willing to give of themselves, just for the love of it (or of others), versus those who will not.