"If a pro photographer really feels the pressure of competition from the millions of amateurs or snap shooters, they should take a hard look at what level their own photography is."
There may be some truth in this, but from my perspective of freelance photography these are the things that hurt my business the most:
During just the past few years, at least four of the magazines that once bought my images have gone out of business, and one of them was successful for over 50 years.
A couple of publications that once bought cover shots from me, now just run "photo contests," either openly or clandestinely. Even Nat Geo runs photo contests.
One of the designed artists for a magazine that uses a lot of my stuff told me the technology has advanced so much he now can get a usable image from a cell phone.
I personally sold two cover shots this past year from an underwater $150 P&S (the first I've owned in almost four decades of doing this).
Rates for images in my markets haven't risen since the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Twice during the past two months, I have been contacted by established companies (one of them a multi-billion dollar company) wanting to use the images they saw on my website for "direct mail promotions." They sent a contract, which included everything from displays to billboards, before they even mentioned compensation. When I asked what they intended to pay, they went fishing elsewhere. It's just business. Why should they pay a pro, when they know with a little fishing, they can get it for free, without usage restrictions?
None of these things have much, or anything, to do with the level of my photography. Through increased effort at composition tricks and marketing, I sold three times as many images this year as I did just a few years ago, and at least 10 times as many covers, yet my bottom line after expenses has plummeted, while the cost of bread has more than doubled.
We can pat each other on the backs and preach to the each other about our "superior" quality, and while that may be true, it is overkill for most--I stress most--reproduction purposes. When I look at the thousands upon thousands of images posted on the internet, I must admit that many of them are simply stunning. They may have had to shift through a thousand rapid-fire images to get that one stunning, full-auto image, but there are millions of them doing that, and nearly every one of them would gladly give it away just to have their name published.
To ignore all this is to put one's head in the sand, because it is only going to increase with each equipment upgrade.