I remember the days of the one month before I officially started my business so clearly. Overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, nervousness…anxiety. Would this really work? Would they even book a session? Am I qualified to do this? The month before I’d officially be in business, I crammed every sort of practice in, making sure I was ready. I wasn’t.
Truth be told, it took me over a year in business to call myself a photographer. “Oh! You’re a photographer!”, they’d say. “I take pictures”, I’d respond. It’s not that I didn’t want to hold that title…but it meant a lot to me. A photographer. I’m a photographer. To me, the title held obligation and commitment. It meant, to me, that a photographer knew exactly what to capture and when to do it. It meant qualification, hours and hours of education and learning and practicing. I don’t think I was quite ready to have that title. I’ve since realized that I still don’t always feel qualified. I still lack confidence
sometimes often. But, truly, if I didn’t feel these feelings, I’d have stopped learning and growing and pushing to become the photographer I am meant to be. It’s my firm belief that the moment you feel as if you have learned it all, you might as well just be done with it and move on.
If you’re a photographer who’s just starting out, I’m sure you spend hours of your time online in message boards or forums. And while that is great for a little while, the simple truth is that while you’re sitting there looking at technique and style of someone else, you are not creating your own. Researching and being inspired on your computer does not make you a better photographer. Getting out there creating and experimenting is what makes you a better photographer.
I was lucky enough to find a mentor around 3 or 4 months after I’d officially started my business. His style and subjects were vastly different than mine. But I was able to have discussion about my art, how I wanted to grow it, where I wanted it to go. We practiced techniques and lighting and processing. Having a mentor to sort of push me to think outside of where I was became almost a necessity. I learned a great deal, a lot of which I don’t use today, but I am grateful for the knowledge in case I ever needed it. Additionally, the things that I learned helped me to have a better understanding of what my own personal style is. I grew into my style, I did not copy my mentor’s or anyone else’s. This was a huge part of becoming the photographer I am today, not copying or trying to emulate another photographer’s work helped me to own my art.
I am an avid believer that any creative should have a mentor. Someone who has been where they are, even if they create in a different medium. Having someone who can inspire and push and help you to grow is extremely beneficial. I need people in my life who help me to think beyond where I am, who help me to think through choices, who help me to see beyond the limits I set for myself. Whether it’s about what (or how) you create, or even just life stuff (because chances are, being a creator is more of who you are than what you do). Often, a mentor doesn’t even need to know anything about what you are creating. The dictionary simply defines “mentor” as a trusted adviser.
So, why this walk down memory lane? Well, sort of self-promotion, I suppose. It’s taken me many long discussions with friends and colleagues, many long prayers, many self inflicted pep talks to get me to where I feel ready to take someone under my wing and help them grow into their own art. I am now offering one-on-one workshops. Now, these are not mentor-ships, as right now I am focusing on my family, art, growth and faith, I am unable to dedicate a large amount of time to mentoring one person, let alone many people, for the long term. And honestly, I think that if you look into your circles, there are people there who are mentor material. The one-on-one workshops are extremely focused workshops to help the beginner photographer, someone who’s just starting out in business, or even just someone who wants to learn about how they can achieve the look I do. They are currently broken into 2 groups: Photography and Workflow. I am currently debating on offering a business based one-on-one, and I will hopefully have a solid yes or no on that soon.
If you are interested in signing up for a one-on-one, please click over to my workshop site to learn more information or to sign up! This week only, I’m offering $50 off one (1) one-on-one or $125 off if you purchase both!