You don’t have a degree to be a writer. You don’t have a degree to be a singer. You don’t have a degree to be a painter. Likewise, you don’t have a degree to be a photographer.
Nowadays, everyone photographs; everyone is a photographer. It’s just like everyone writes; everyone is a writer.
Everyone drives; everyone is a driver. But you do need a degree (driving license) to be a driver just to make sure that you have enough driving skills to prevent from killing people easily when driving. But driving isn’t art; driving is a skill (at least for most people).
In short, you don’t need a degree to be creative. As long as you’re creative, you’re an artist.
I do think it would be best to know what your talking about to a point so that you don’t enbarass yourself because the person your talking to is going to talk to other people and if you represent yourself honestly, the person could be your best teacher rather than just dusting you off as a bullshitter so as far as others come into focus I would be careful about self representation because you are a photographer but that statement if you make it to someone could have quantification such as, beginner all way to expert and that keeps you safe, open and available for invitation to befriend or learn from.
You don’t need a degree to have a creative mind, because creativity cannot be measured. That’s something similar to the debates over IQ and if it’s possible to evaluate the ability to learn, create, etc. Writers usually finish the Creative writing courses, but the most of them don’t, they just write. You’re a good photographer and that’s your advantage.
Photography is a lot more “creative” nowadays. And our technology is a good friend, in this matter which allows for even the most novice of photographers to create some good stuff. Many professional photographers appreciate that it is not the degree that makes them a photographer.