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How To Choose The Right Photography Mentor

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A "mom with a camera", on a mission!

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Hey you. Are you looking for a healthy way to approach the sheer volume of photography advice out there (all kinds of advice, really)? 

Everything will become clearer when you make this your mantra: not all advice is for you. 

Sit with that for a minute. How does it feel? 

Maybe you’re wondering what the best way is to decide which nuggets of wisdom to take and which to leave? Well, start by thinking about whether the person is someone you’d count among your go-to mentors and educators. Is the person you’re listening to coming from a place where you want to be? ⁠Are they practicing the kind of photography you practice?

What works for one of us doesn’t work for everyone. For example, one of my really good friends gives advice about studio light, I give advice about natural light. Some preach in-person sales, while I advise an all-inclusive model. We teach what we know works for us.

When considering who should be one of your trusted sources for advice and guidance, these three questions will help you break through the noise and hone in on the good stuff. 

1. Is this person where I want to be?⁠

Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of merit in interacting with a community of people who are learning and growing alongside you, experiencing the same struggles you may be experiencing as they build up their portfolios and followings (lookin’ at you, ESB Connection chapters!). 

But when it comes to determining individual mentors whose content and educational resources are worthy of your valuable time and money, prioritize the people who have reached the milestones you want to reach. Maybe that’s having cultivated a specific type or size of online community. Maybe it’s working with the caliber of clients you’d like to work with (getting paid to travel for shoots!?). Maybe it’s hitting the financial goals that facilitate the kind of lifestyle and balance you’re seeking in your life. These are the folks who can show you tried-and-tested ways for getting where you want to go. 

2. Have they got the qualifications to back up their advice? ⁠

⁠Talk is cheap, and though the internet can be a magical place for connecting, learning, and building a thriving business, it’s also got more than its share of charlatans. The mentors and educators who are deserving of your time and money will be quick to demonstrate their qualifications and experience – up front. In addition to telling you exactly how they mastered what they’re teaching, they should have testimonials readily available from both clients and peers. Endorsements via social media from other influencers you trust can also go a long way.

3. Is this person kind? ⁠

⁠This one is huge.

We’re all of us humans dealing with a whole lot right now. The last thing anyone needs is to be learning from someone who is harsh, who speaks in absolutes (my way is the only way) or who badmouths or cuts down other educators. And really, the temperamental artist trope is kind of tired, don’t you think? 😉

Protect your energy by only inviting influence from those who are where you want to be. And who above all, are kind. Life is just too dang short for mean people.

⁠The only person who gets to decide where you are going is, YOU, my friend. At the end of the day, the only person who can tell you how to do your art and biz is YOU.

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