You’re a photographer, and a good one, at least you think. You have several years of experience under your belt. You started as a hobbyist, but then gradually discovered that you could turn that into a professional career and get paid good money for your photography.
This certainly sounds like the successful photographer model: running your own business from a passion that you highly enjoy. Still, there’s always room for improvement; it’s possible to always get bigger and better.
That’s where a photography mentor can help you increase your performance even beyond this successful scenario. Mentorship in general is a tried, tested and true path for professionals of all stripes to experience even greater success in their vocation.
You have Various Goals
No matter what stage of your career you’re in, you have goals. If you’re still a novice photographer, goals can include taking a photography course on a specific topic that interests you or eventually going pro. If you’re already a professional, then a goal could be to gain additional visibility and renown as a professional, such as when you get your body of work published or even write your own photography book.
That’s where a mentor can be so helpful–in all these aforementioned situations.
A photography mentor would be an experienced veteran in the industry who acts as your trusted advisor. He’d be able to take your goals and get you to focus on them more specifically–as well as decide what’s realistic and what isn’t. In short, having a great mentor means the difference between having just a dream and an actual plan to achieve your goal.
You Need Some Inspiration
Another great benefit of having a mentor is providing you with inspiration in the form of helping you see where you could or want to be in a number of years. As a result, the mentor naturally has to be a photographer who’s already accomplished a lot of the things that you want to accomplish in your amateur or professional trajectory.
For example, if you’re an amateur photographer who wants to eventually quit his day job and turn your hobby into a full-fledged business from which you can make a good living, you need to locate a mentor who’s done exactly that. This doesn’t just provide you with inspiration and something to shoot for, but also gives you assurance that your mentor can help you get there.
On the pro side, if you’re looking to get your work featured in big publications like National Geographic, then having a mentor who’s been published in huge publications is a godsend.
You Need to Learn a Few (More) Things
Photography is a constant learning process, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro. Someone is likely to always know more than you, so why not pick their brain?
Mentors can be extremely helpful from anything to teaching you the basics of good composition to more advanced pursuits like successfully networking your brand and services at high-profile events.
If you’re looking for a mentor specifically to teach you a few more things, then look for one that has a teaching background in photography. For example, he could be teaching a photography workshop or course. Having a mentor who’s used to imparting knowledge already will make it seamless when he’s passing on knowledge to you.
You want to Stay on Top of Trends
Photography is never static; it’s dynamic. As such, there are always trends that are shaping the industry because change in this medium always happens quickly. Photography today isn’t just about its artists remaining purists. Just look at the visual versatility in more and more snapshots you see being produced in the present day.
Having a mentor is also your bridge into the broader sense of community within the photography industry, and this helps you stay informed about how the industry as a whole keeps moving.
How to Find a Mentor in the First Place
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what benefits a mentor can offer you, we have to look at how to find such a helpful person. Mentors won’t just show up and volunteer to guide you (if only it were that easy), so here are some actionable things you can do to get a mentor:
- Slowly start a student-mentor relationship with a photographer you respect by consistently and gradually asking for their advice, and this may turn into a launching pad for more and more regular collaborations down the road.
- Attend a photography workshop and then see if the pro photographer putting it on also offers private tutorials.