Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Have any of you had mentors? What type and what did you get out of the relationship? Or maybe you were a mentor to someone. What was that like? I am working to set up a local mentoring program with ASMP Los Angeles.

The idea is that emerging photographers could use the guidance and expertise of established photographers. Starting out in this industry is tough. You practically have to figure out everything by yourself when you run your own business. It's not like you have a boss training you. There are NO training wheels. So benefiting from the wisdom of an old pro is a wonderful gift for a newbie.

What does the mentor get out of it? Well for one, it's a way to give back to the community. It's a way to give of yourself and feel good about it. The other thing is a lot of emerging photographers just don't know good business practices. They make mistakes, lowball... and hurt the industry as a whole. So what better way to circumvent that than to establish mentoring relationships? It's not the magic bullet, but done right, it could make a significant impact.

I'd love to hear what you guys think about this. Any and all ideas, opinions, suggestions welcome. Email me or comment. Thanks.


Clayton said...

If it weren't for a "mentor"I'd probably not stuck with photography. I was fortunate enough to have a magazine editor Arnout "Sonny" Hyde take an interest in my photography and publish a few photos- he in turn introduced me to some of the major "shooters" in the area- two of which took me under their wing and would actually allow me to help on assingments. Now I own my own photo biz; Clayton Spangler Photographic Design- but it was only because of individuals who cared enough to share photographic passion and help a "nobody" find theirs.
I can't tell you what it meant to me to be able to call up fellow photographers I look up to ( and still call sometimes) to ask about a copyright issue, or what would you do in this situation- kind of thing. It's knowledge that you just don't find out any other way except thru experience ( yours or someone elses)
The cool thing is just about everyone of the photographers whom I found as mentors became as close as family. I've even returned the favor to some of them in areas I've become "expert" in- now THAT has been a cool turn of events! Plus, by their example of humbleness and passion for the craft; I've taken on a few "photographer starting out cases" of my own. Itw's so gratifying when you are talking about or showing a technique and someone, for the first time "gets it".
So yeah, I'd say mentoring helps and sometimes it just happens; but going out and making yourself available - makes it work!

Greg Clarke said...

Thanks so much for sharing Clayton. I can see how much an impact mentoring had in your career and how indispensable it was. It's interesting because all the ultra successful people I've studied in various fields all seem to have mentors, even now when they are looked up to by so many. It's like Tiger Woods. Even with all his raw talent, he would not be able to achieve so much without a coach.

We all need someone with more experience and wisdom and an outside perspective to guide us along. It's not obligatory of course, but it makes the whole process so much easier, and smoother in turn. Why reinvent the wheel?

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