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Author Topic: Mentor  (Read 3309 times)
kingearl
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« on: March 21, 2007, 02:16:22 PM »
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I am an emerging photographer who specializes in travel photography and portraiture.  I've been at it about two years, and am looking to take my photography career to the next level by approaching galleries.  At this point, however, I feel I need a mentor or someone to help guide my career and push me artistically.  

Living in NYC, I have to have a day job to pay the bills, but would be more than willing to work nights/weekends as an assistant in order to gain more experience.  This said, all of the assistant positions I have seen advertise require much more experience and daytime hours.  Does anyone have any recommendations for finding a mentor?  Any thoughts or feedback would be most appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

Kelly Williams
www.kelly-williams.com
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howiesmith
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2007, 03:29:21 PM »
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Living in NYC, I have to have a day job to pay the bills, but ... .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=107925\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Why do you live in NYC?  If you love it there more than your photography, that's fine.  

I found I couldn't retire because I lived in Orange County (expensive).  I lived in Orange County because I had a good job there.  But I had to have that good job BECAUSE I lived there.  So I retired and moved.  (Sold my mortgaged house and paid cash for next one.)

Consider leaving NYC for someplace you can afford with a photography day job (if being a photographer really is what you are after).
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AWeil
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2007, 04:41:10 PM »
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I think, NYC is a good place to be: A lot of talent in one place. I would consider workshops with photographers whose work you admire (to be accomplished in reasonable time sequences), approach photographers working in the city for possible unpaid work as an assistant in the evening hours or on weekends, look at the programs of the art schools (who is teaching what and when - any possibility to do part time study, take part in a master class?
Sometimes it takes a mix of personal contact and persistence to get what you are after. Start high and work down after that. Don't be shy, some of the photographers might be pleased to be able share their knowledge and/or some might be pleased to have someone available on the weekend.
Angela
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jecxz
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2007, 07:40:50 PM »
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Try ICP (www.icp.org) - they may have job listings or they may be able to direct you better. NYC is a great place to live. Good luck, I wish you the best.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2007, 12:24:45 PM »
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Remember, most photographers don't want to work nights and weekends either.  The number of opportunities may go down.

Working for free may get you experience but won't pay the rent.  I have worked with free models looking for experience, and reliable was not a big resume item for them.  "[You name it] or work for free"?  [You name it] wins at least once when the photographer needs it least.  Most photographers need a reliable assistant.  A free one is cheap but may not be (or thought to be) reliable.  Get offered a job that pays and the assistant is gone.  Opportunities may go down.  If a photographer pays, they can expect something in return.

NYC may be filled with photographers, but where opportunity is, there also you will find those seeking opportunity.  Opportunities may go down.
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2007, 08:58:13 AM »
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I think the greatest mistake is to think you can just slowly work your way into pro photography. You can certainly mess about attempting web sales as art - how many make a living at this rather than a statement - but you have to go where the work is. As Howie says, where it is is also where the competition is; where the work is not, you won't find it either.

Many try getting into pro work via stock - again, as with art sales, how many, even fully established pros can live off that? I was such a pro when I joined the Tony Stone picture library (now Getty) and never, during my stay with them, despite some great individual sales, did I get NEAR the level of return that would have allowed me to exist on that work alone.

Photography has never been an easy option; as with all art-based jobs, many of your clients will tend tend to think that it's all about having an expensive camera and that their son or whoever could do it just as well had he the time... that you have to support yourself, possibly a family and certainly your job doesn't make much impression with people, not even when you attempt to justify charging a proper, commercially sensible fee. I hate having to say this, but there's perhaps more fun and pleasure to be had as an amateur. You will probably earn much more doing something else.

For every great name you see in the magazines there is a zillion failures too; it was ever so.

Cold water? Damn right; better now when young enough to do something else.

Rob C
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alainbriot
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2007, 11:27:16 AM »
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I think the greatest mistake is to think you can just slowly work your way into pro photography. You can certainly mess about attempting web sales as art - how many make a living at this rather than a statement - but you have to go where the work is. As Howie says, where it is is also where the competition is; where the work is not, you won't find it either.

Many try getting into pro work via stock - again, as with art sales, how many, even fully established pros can live off that? I was such a pro when I joined the Tony Stone picture library (now Getty) and never, during my stay with them, despite some great individual sales, did I get NEAR the level of return that would have allowed me to exist on that work alone.

Photography has never been an easy option; as with all art-based jobs, many of your clients will tend tend to think that it's all about having an expensive camera and that their son or whoever could do it just as well had he the time... that you have to support yourself, possibly a family and certainly your job doesn't make much impression with people, not even when you attempt to justify charging a proper, commercially sensible fee. I hate having to say this, but there's perhaps more fun and pleasure to be had as an amateur. You will probably earn much more doing something else.

For every great name you see in the magazines there is a zillion failures too; it was ever so.

Cold water? Damn right; better now when young enough to do something else.

Rob C
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Rob,

Well said.  This is a very realistic description of how challenging it is to make a living from photography when you are just starting.
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Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
http://www.beautiful-landscape.com
Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2007, 08:45:55 AM »
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Rob,

Well said. This is a very realistic description of how challenging it is to make a living from photography when you are just starting.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=110818\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Alain

I only wish that the problem existed just at the 'start' of a photographic career!

My observation of life as a photographer has been that most of us get, if we are lucky, a span of perhaps ten years when we are 'hot' and during which time-space we have the chance to earn out crust of bread and also a little cake. After that, we seem to begin a slow decline in popularity with clients - we are too familiar to them; we become unexciting; we no longer manage to kiss ass as nicely as they might like.

On top of that, the very people upon whose goodwill we depend come into problems of their own: they, too, start to find themselves marginalised by newer art directors within  the same agency; if not agency employees but perhaps company owners/directors or whatever, their companies too begin to suffer from cyclical problems of profitability and money for advertising, calendars and such peripheral expenditures shrinks faster than some parts of the body when riding a bicycle on a frosty morning. In other words, it is an unavoidable fact that for many companies photography is not a first necessity and as suppliers, we suffer early during any industry turn-down.

Fun, isn't it?

Anyway, going back to the original poster's question about mentors - why would somebody want to put a lot of time and money into backing another person unless there was a guaranteed return on all the investment? Look at some of the 'stars' of the gallery circuit and ask yourself how and why they got backing - there might well be some shocking personal prices that have been paid for that help in some cases - Faustus was more than just an idea... On the other hand, if you are prepared to do absolutely anything, then I'm sure some rich gentleman will be more than willing to offer help.

I mentioned stock earlier on in my first post on this topic: not only did it never make itself self-financing and profitable for me on the breakdown, but on trying to explain the mechanics of the industry to several very successful business friends - I mean friends of many years standing - they independently went gaga when I explained that, at best, you took 100% of the financial risk in return for 50% of the 'possible' reward...

Ciao - Rob C
« Last Edit: April 06, 2007, 10:05:23 AM by Rob C » Logged

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