When it comes to discussing the two groups, it generally comes down to quality of composition, lighting and having a developed photographic eye. Composition is important to presenting the subject in the best possible way. Just looking through the viewfinder and clicking away rarely leads to great images. The other aspect is good lighting, either natural or artificially created. A photographer, at least the ones trained in proper lighting techniques can really make your images pop. Using the right light really enhances a photo, effect using lighting modifiers like flash, grids and reflectors make all the difference from an image looking amateurish versus professional. Most people don’t have the time, money or the inclination to bother to learn how to use this equipment. Good lighting is just something that can’t be achieved using simple point and shoot camera’s or digital SLR camera’s set to full auto. I have plenty of family and friends who have the best equipment but you could not tell from looking at their images. Good photography requires work, ability and thoughtfulness.
From personal experience, it really took me about 5 years to develop a good eye. Knowing what not to photograph is just as important as knowing what to. A lot of photographs exist that don’t really have much merit. A good photographer can often produce images that are important to more people than just the original client. Not every subject will have merit either. Family photos of complete strangers rarely have any importance beyond the families of those photographed. Glamour photography often has importance beyond the original client. Both men and woman can have an appreciation for the human form when it is presented in interesting ways. Animal photography often has merit. mainly because it can be anthropomorphic in nature. Often the merit is derived in seeing part of ourselves in other creatures. Creating images that a large body of people can appreciate is something that rarely exists in the amateur world of photography, unfortunately it does not exist that often in the community of professional photographers either.