Reasons for Seeking a Mentor
There are many reasons why someone would seek out a mentor. You are the only one who knows what goals you've set for yourself. A mentor can help you achieve those goals.
Some reasons for working with a mentor are:
- Private, one-on-one help improving camera skills
- Building strengths in technical, artistic, or other skills
- One-on-One help with business matters; copyright, contracts, pricing, etc.
- Private constructive and objective feedback
- Building a stronger portfolio
- In-depth help with a specific issue
- Building your professional identity
- Designing and publishing a photo book
- Working with galleries, exhibiting your work
- Overcoming hurdles
- You need a kick in the pants now and then
Do you know a friend, loved one, employee, or complete stranger who enjoys photography? The gift of photography lasts a lifetime (and beyond). are available. Gift Certificates are good for the purchase of any Blue Planet Photography service or product. I also offer instruction that can be purchased for yourself or as a gift.
The best learning takes place on a log, with the teacher on one end and the student on the other
Are you ready to make your photography dreams and goals a reality? Are you determined to commit time to your love of photography but aren't sure where to begin or how to grow further on your own?
One of the best ways to improve as a photographer and artist is to know someone you can turn to who can provide you with private, personal, one-on-one guidance and help you down the creative path, pushing you to excel and evolve your personal photographic style and vision, and objectively giving you constructive feedback on your work and progress.
One-on-One consultation can be used for private learning or improving your photography skills on a short-term basis (2 - 8 hours) or long-term mentoring (3 - 12 months). Flexibility of scheduling is a great advantage to the one-on-one approach. Meeting times can be arranged at mutually-beneficial times which makes it easy to fit learning into your busy schedule.
Here are many of the topics I can assist you with on a One-on-One basis:
- Basic to advanced camera operation and techniques
- Basic to advanced composition
- Basic to intermediate Photoshop, up to current version
- Understanding software (photography-related)
- Business of photography (legal structure, copyright, contracts, pricing, etc.)
- Portfolio building and review
- Working with a gallery
- Creative personal assignments
- Studio and environmental lighting
- Editing (selecting) images for portfolio, gallery, book, etc.
- Photo trip/vacation preparation
- More...just ask. If I'm unable to assist you I will help find someone who can
One-on-One sessions are scheduled in 1, 4, 6, or 8-hour blocks. One-hour blocks are used for sessions lasting from 1 - 4 hours. 4, 6, and 8 hour blocks can be split into 2-hour sessions. Full 6-hour and 8-hour sessions include lunch. Register Today »
Finding a Mentor
The reasons for seeking out one-on-one instruction or mentoring are varied. Only you know what goals you set for yourself and what you would like to accomplish.
A mentor is generally someone who has an understanding of or experience in your industry. A mentor helps you to make sense of your own experiences, helps you think through the challenges you face and what you want to do about them, and to become more self-sufficient. However, finding a mentor can be harder than it sounds. To help you along that path, here are some suggestions for finding a mentor.
- Know what your favorite subject or subject matter is. What do you like to shoot most or what subject would you like to become more proficient in? Complete this statement for yourself, "If I could study only two aspects of photography, they would be..."
- Find a photographer or two who looks to be proficient in one or both of your top aspects and who may have a similar photographic style to you or a style you'd like to emulate. This person does not have to be in your local area. With technology today, mentoring sessions can be done via email, phone, Skype or other video conference call. It's also not always necessary to choose a mentor who photographs in your favorite genre. Creative growth and insight can be gained by choosing a mentor doing work outside your comfort zone. Research them, look at their website, blog, and publications (if any) to help determine if they might be a good fit for you. Maybe take a short class with them or talk to them at an art show, if they do that sort of thing.
- What are their credentials? Are they known for their mentoring services? Do they normally teach or are active in educating about photography? Are they established in their career? These questions aren't critical, but depending on your goals could help prevent you from spending time and money in a relationship that is not very beneficial. Though, there is a slight risk in choosing a mentor you've never met or talked to. You won't know for sure if your mentor is a good fit until you spend some time with them (see #2 above).
- Know what you want from the relationship. Do you want instruction, feedback on your work, help with an equipment purchase, help with a new direction, or something more long term? Make a personal checklist covering the Who, What, Why, and When so you can be clear when you contact your potential mentor.
- Get in touch. Gather up your courage and contact the photographer(s) on your list. Call, email, or write one of those old-fashioned paper letters. Describe what you're looking for and ask if they are interested in being a mentor to you.
- Have an open mind and be patient. The process of selecting a potential mentor may create expectations on your part that may or may not be met. It may take longer than you think to find the right person to approach.
Working with a Mentor
Once you've found a mentor, working with them is going to be inspiring, challenging, frustrating at times, but ultimately rewarding. Some considerations for working with your new-found guide:
- Your mentor's time is valuable; don't monopolize it. This means when you're working outside of the normally-scheduled mentoring time and you reach a sticking point, don't first get on the phone or email your mentor to get help. Try to work out the issue on your own, using your current knowledge. A goal of the mentoring process is for you to gain problem-solving and confidence skills. It's ok to contact your mentor if you're really and truly stuck.
- Be prepared to give something back. Anyone who is willing to offer guidance, advice, and time, is going to expect something in return; your hard work and commitment, your eagerness and enthusiasm to learn, and your participation will go a long way to making your mentoring relationship a successful one, and is the "thank you" mentors appreciate most.
- Have realistic expectations. the mentoring relationship may not be wonderful all the time. Your mentor may not be able to schedule time with you when you want. He/she may not always look out for your best interests. As in all relationships, there will be ups and downs.
- Have an open mind. Your new mentor may encourage you to push yourself harder than you expect or to try something new that you may not be comfortable with (safely and ethically, of course).
- Be willing to pay your dues. Some mentoring relationships are by mutual consent rather than a paid contract. Some mentors may want you to work additional hours assisting them on one of their projects in exchange for their teaching, coaching, and support.
- Have an open mid and be patient. The process of selecting a potential mentor may create expectations on your part that may or may not be met. It may take longer than you think to find the right person to approach. And, your new mentor may encourage you to push yourself harder than you have been pushing yourself or to try something new that you may not have much (if any) interest in.
- Take notes. Take plenty of notes. Not just on the subject at hand, but on your relationship. Keep a mentoring journal that chronicles your experience; what you're learning, what you aren't learning, issues and other challenges you're having, the communication style of your mentor, how much communication there is, and what form it takes (email, phone, in-person, etc.). These notes will be useful in continuing your relationship and in selecting your next mentor.
- Most important of all - enjoy yourself and have fun with the experience!