Are you a new photographer or someone who’s been in the business for a while but are looking for ways to improve? Finding a mentor who is knowledgeable and excited to teach can be difficult. However, it is a great way to enhance your skills and learn the ins and outs of the industry.
Overall, every photographer should have a mentor at some point in their career. If you don’t know where to even look for a mentor, don’t worry! Today, I will be sharing with you why you need a mentor and where to find one.
An experienced mentor will know the ups and downs of being a photographer and running your own business. This means they can help you avoid big mistakes that could set you back such as not setting up a simple and efficient website to display your packages, or not investing in a good quality laptop for editing. Whenever you come to a crossroads and are unsure what to do, you can turn to your mentor and ask. It’s like having a help desk, just for you!
Like most creative paths, photography can at times, be lonely. Of course, as a photographer, you are often taking photos of people and connecting with clients, but the process of learning about photography and growing your skills can be a solitary activity. Having a mentor not only helps to grow your skills but it builds a sense of belonging and community too. Your mentor should be open to meeting up or talking often. They should also have connections to other photographers and like-minded people who you can meet!
A mentor wants to see you grow. That means, if you have the goal of gaining a new client that month, they expect you to work towards that. What are you going to do? Are you going to step up your social media game? Are you going to reach out to photographers and introduce yourself? Are you going to email companies and let them know you are available for headshots whenever they need? A mentor will expect action and results, and they will keep you accountable. The reason many photographers don’t make it is because they give up too soon or don’t try at all. They think that by not seeing the results right away, they are a failure. A mentor keeps you from that mindset and pushes you to achieve your goals.
Similar to the second tip, your mentor should be someone who helps you network and meet like-minded people which will allow you to make important connections. This is a crucial part to establishing yourself in the photography industry because it will help you gain clients, build trust and relationships, and establish credibility. A mentor makes this whole process much easier than trying to connect with people on social media, which is effective, but when you have a mutual, in-person connection, it is much more intimate. Not only that, but after your mentorship period is over, your mentor will be someone you can contact whenever. If you are looking for a photography gig, they will be one of the first people you reach out to because you have formed a lifelong relationship with them.
Now that you know the benefits of having a mentor, you are probably wondering where you can find one. Lucky for you, mentors are almost everywhere. They can be a family member, a friend, a professor, or a peer. However, if none of those people are photographers, here are a few more places you can find the right mentor for you.
At Focal, we offer a free mentorship program that is extremely valuable for photographers at any stage in their journey. You schedule a one-on-one call with our founder, Lachlan, and the photographers partnered with Focal, and they will offer insight on your goals and guide you in the right direction . From then on, we offer constant support whenever you are in need of it.
Find someone whose work you admire on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc, and reach out to them! Learn more about their story and see if it aligns with where you want to take your photography. If it does, then ask them about mentoring. A lot of experienced photographers want to mentor (some for a price, some for free) and share their expertise, so there is a good chance they will agree!
Maybe once upon a time you did a volunteer photography gig to build up your portfolio and there is someone there you can contact. Even if there isn’t someone who could mentor you at a past job, they might know someone who can. It is all about communication and just asking. So, ask!
A mentor can be your most valuable tool not just as a photographer, but as any creative. This is a proven fact because in stories, every hero has a mentor. It’s time to take your photography a step further and find the right mentor for you.
Don’t forget to check out Focal’s mentor program and take that step today!