For years I've called myself a "paid amateur". Enough people love what I do that I get paid for it, though admittedly less and less as magazines fall by the wayside, e.g. American Photo and Popular Photography in the last year alone. This includes technique, history, critique and even the occasional picture. The problem is that today, everyone wants everything for free on the internet, i.e. wholly paid for by advertising (and data harvesting) instead of partially paid for by advertising as magazines have always been. And all too many books today replace the manuals that digital camera manufacturers should provide. Quite a few hate what I do as well, but at the least I make them think about what they want from photography, both as readers and creators. I've not entered APOY (or any other major magazine competition) since about 1975, though, partly because it seems sort of dishonest and partly because it's not a rational path for anyone who can actually earn money from their photography. Why invest time and effort in gambling on a prize when you can persuade paying clients to part with their money? Yes, there's the glory, but once you're calling yourself "professional" (or even "paid amateur"), it's a bit of an admission that you ain't in it just for the glory. Or at least, that you're pretending not to be, even though a lot of self-described "professionals" earn little or sometimes nothing from their craft. I'd rather earn my money as an honest professional (or at least "paid amateur"), from paying clients. Most professionals I know (and I know a lot, and have known even more) have the very highest respect for APOY. Many (including me) will say that the best amateurs are often better than most professionals. But they wouldn't enter APOY because they know that they'd be regarded as having an unfair advantage, even when they haven't. They may also be afraid of not winning... Cheers, R.