Mentoring is a time honored method for passing on decades of learned information from one
person to another. Not only can you learn a specific topic, pairing up with a mentor can
bring growth to other aspects of your art you were never aware of. It’s also great to know
there is someone who has your best interest at heart and will give you candid, honest
feedback while helping your improve.
Here are important some important points in picking a photography mentor.
Know Your Favorite Subject Matter
Let’s start with you first. What is your favorite topic? Are you big on landscape
photography? Wildlife? Sports? The list goes on and on and chances are you fit into
more than one bucket. After listing out a couple of your favorite topics, narrow
the list down to your top two. These are the, "If I could only study two types of
photography, I want them to be ……" topics. It’s important to do this step first.
First, it helps you focus and second, it helps you really focus.
Know What You Want From The Relationship
This is a very important step in the process. Without it, both you and your
mentor may be left floundering or spending a lot of time on tasks that should
have been done before you got in touch. Are you simply looking for regular
critiques? Maybe you wish to shadow the person for a day, a week, on a shoot.
Or just need someone to help you with a new direction in photography. Whatever
the case, list out how long, why, when and what. Be specific or vague as you
wish, but make sure it would be clear to the other person what you are asking
Get In Touch
Now for the part that stops most people in their tracks; getting up the nerve
to contact possible mentors. For some, this part is easy and if that’s you,
I’m sure you already know what to do. For the rest of us this step might seem
a bit daunting. I mean, you are actually going to let someone else know that
you are not perfect and would like some help. EEeek!! Now get over it. Right
now. Gather up some courage and contact the mentor.
You have contacted your mentor…. GREAT!! Now make sure you take plenty of notes.
And not just notes on the subject at hand. Here I’m talking about notes on your
relationship. This first mentor is not necessarily your be-all, end-all mentor.
You may go through many in your life. It's important to know what works for you
and what doesn’t. What kind of communication style, how much, in what form, etc…
These notes will be important in continuing your relationship or in choosing
the next mentor.
Keep An Open Mind
While it’s fine to visualize an intended goal, don’t get too hung up on it.
Think of Daniel in the movie The Karate Kid. Miyagi, his mentor, had him
painting fences and doing all sorts of other things he thought had no relation
to his goal, which was to learn karate and beat up some bullies. But Miyagi's
methods, while odd to Daniel, were simply a different path toward his goal
than Daniel had imagined. So keep an open mind and take a few chances if
your mentor is asking you to stretch or try something new.
So, this is the plan. You call Carmen Daughtry with the following information:
Name, address, phone number
Type of photography you would like to concentrate on at the beginning
Type of camera
Hours/days available to shoot
Carmen will pair you up with one or more of our members, and will supply you with their
name and phone number.
REMEMBER STEP 3….
If you have any questions please e-mail Carmen or phone me at 910-579-8662.