I’ve always wanted a mentor. But mentorship never came in the way I imagined. Instead of having one person in my life guide me photography, I worked with a variety of people at different times, each of whom taught me something along the way. We didn’t have coffee meetings or a lesson plan, but–instead–I simply watched what they do learned along the way.
So how did I get access to amazing people? I didn’t ask. I know that people weren’t just going to let me in learn from them. These people are busy, and proper mentorship takes time. Even the most generous will hesitate before mentoring someone, more so if they don’t know them well.
That’s why I never asked.
The first thing I did was think how I could help, solve a problem, or offer help to someone I admired. In short, I needed to find a way to show they would benefit by having me around. Let’s get into a few examples of how things happened…
Example One: Early in my photo career I learned a known photographer Mike Browne needed help on answering question on his Facebook page. I offered to answer these queries for him, since I’ve been watching most of his tutorials and I was confident enough to help his followers. This gave me an insight on how me managed his social media and also learned things about photography since we needed to discuss things on a regular basis.
Example Two: A local photographer was looking for an assistant to help him edit his images for he was having tons of pending jobs. I offered to help him out and this gave me an access on how he post process his image that eventually gave way for me to edit my own images properly.
Example Three: Recently I reached out to a travel blogger that I admire and noticed that he didn’t have articles about Asia, so happened that I live in Asia and offered him that I can submit images from my own country, and in return he taught me how to properly take a photo that tells a narrative story.
Would I like a full-time mentor? Yes. Do I wish I had someone to help guide me as I navigate the photography world? YES But running a business ain’t charity. It’s a transaction of time between two people, so it must benefit both parties.
If you want a mentor, find ways to create value for another person and make it a win-win.