Once the decision is taken and the die cast, the bridge crossed, and the Gordian Knot cut, it is time to decide how to become an amateur. Here are some first steps:
a. Get a photo vest. If you are an urban type, get a black one with lots of pockets. If you'll be out in the country choose a grey or khaki one with lots of pockets. If you are going to haunt the motorcycle and drag races get a blue denim one with lots of pockets.*
b. If you cannot afford a vest just get lots of pockets. You can wear them like a Mexican bandit's ammunition belt. Be prepared for Pancho Villa jokes.
c. Get a baseball cap. It does not matter whether you wear it forward, backwards, or sideways but you must wear it at all times. If they attempt to take it off you in church, change religions.
d. You no longer will worry about taking extra camera bodies, lenses, and batteries to an assignment. You'll no longer have to trail three roller cases full of lighting heads and extension cords. And you'll no longer have a poorly-paid assistant to set up, clean up. and throw up for you. Celebrate by paring your outfit down to one pre-1970 SLR with a standard lens and a smudged UV filter. Encase it in a brown leather ever-ready case with extra pockets down the strap for rolls of film and cleaning tissues.
e. Stock up on Ilford FP4 and Kodak Gold film. Keep it on the back parcel shelf of your car.
f. Join 15 internet forum groups that deal with different camera brands. Play one off against the other by researching the minute details of each new product and making spread-sheet charts of the reasons why each one of them is worse than the other.
g. Go to random weddings and obstruct the professional photographer. You know precisely where they need to be to get the best coverage for the event and you are now in a position to prevent it.
h. Practise your computer skills by making composited HDR shots of babies with harsh cross lighting and graffiti in the background - preferably against a pebble beach with lowering clouds. Print these with 100% sharpening and push the finished results under the doors of the local portrait studios. Eventually you will get a scream.
i. Haunt the shops. No, really, put on a white bedsheet and come in through the front door making a "Woooooo" sound. The staff get little enough amusement as it is and they will look kindly on you.
j. Tell people how you did it in your day. If your day was just before last weekend they may listen to you. If your day was just before last century they may throw chairs at you. You can sell the chairs for a decent price.
k. Make up one of those inkjet-printed plain paper advertisements offering cut-rate photography "for exposure" with a little fringe of tear-off phone numbers at the bottom. Tape one to the wall in the waiting area of every portrait studio in the town when the receptionist isn't looking.
l. Offer to lead a workshop photo tour expedition seminar event to a town in the bush that has no store, petrol station, pub, or supply of running water.
m. Write articles on photography and submit them to Dolly Magazine, The Watchtower, and Hansard.
* The pink lace vest is a dangerous choice...