Why Mentorship Matters

“Mentor” is a word I don’t hear very often these days. It is something that I lacked in my youth, and even to this day, wish I had more of in my life. As a budding photographer, I picked up what I could from my high school film photography class, where my fellow students were more interested in touching each other’s bums in the dark room than actually learning their F stop increments. I used my first manual camera at 16 and from that point forward, never really put them down again. When I turned 18, I received an automatic film camera for my birthday, and unhappy with its results, I took to books to find out what was going wrong. This was about the same time digital point and shoot cameras became affordable (2003 for those who want a history lesson), and I jumped on this chance to learn what I was doing instantaneously. I bought a fully manual point and shoot compact digital camera and started shooting everything I saw. I graduated to my first DSLR in 2006 and have continued my obsession ever since.


After pursuing fine art photographer in University, I had no idea what to do once I graduated. I felt lost and confused, having learned very little of the technical aspects of photography. Nearly 6 months passed before I picked up my camera again, the longest time I had ever gone without shooting since I began. I was looking at craigslist one day and came across an ad for a photographer seeking fellow photographers for assistance in turn for mentorship. I felt silly responding as it had been so long since I had worked on my craft, but once I did, I knew my perception of my goals, passions and path was going to change forever. I met the photographer for coffee, brought along my images and my camera and we looked at my work. I was far from where I wanted to be technically and had no idea how to get there. I didn’t know much about shooting professionally and having the help of a seasoned pro (who could benefit from my stamina and ability to carry bags like a pro!) opened my mind to the possibilities of a career in photography. I no longer felt scared, stuck or confused about my future or how to get where I wanted to go, and all it took was opening myself up to being taught one person’s way of doing things.


Since that first encounter, I have met with countless other photographers to chat about the business, art and technicalities of photography. I began to seek out assisting jobs, second-shooting jobs and networking opportunities. I joined a group of 200 photographers from a completely different area, who coached me through what seemed like the silliest questions (learning that there is no such thing as a silly question in the process) and who opened themselves to teaching me the ropes of this business. These have been people who have had nothing to gain, plenty to lose and a genuine desire to share their love for photography. I will be forever indebted to these people because they continue to challenge me to be the best artist I can be and they push me to achieve my dreams, no matter how lofty. They show me that the possibilities for my life are endless, and actually something I can obtain with hard work and determination.

Mentorship is something that has gotten lost throughout the years in the busyness of our lives. We forget at times that the best way to learn is through teaching, and we all start at the same place. We all began as beginners and whether we have had an easy or tough road to where we are today, it has been a road paved with learning experiences. No matter how successful or how new you are to photography, or any business, mentorship can change your life and your outlook. I have not adopted the practices of every photographer I have worked with, but I have learned from their craft and their willingness to share it with me and for that I will be forever grateful. We lose our passion for what we do when we stop being challenged, and sometimes mentoring is all it takes to ignite that spark in us again. 

~ Heather

Inn at Laurel Point Weddings Photographers Victoria BC

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