5 Ways to Get a Video or Photo Mentor and How They Can Help Your Career

In this recent video from The Slanted Lens, host and photographer Jay P. Morgan explains the benefits of having a mentor during the early stages of your photographic career. He then goes on to provide usable examples of how just about anyone can go about making a connection with professional who could fill that role.

Even if finding a mentor isn't something you're looking for at the moment, a lot of these benefits can be enjoyed by simply collaborating with other creatives who do what you do. Even with someone who might be less experienced than yourself, there is still a great opportunity to learn some things that you might not be proficient in. Cultivating good working and personal relationships with local photographers and filmmakers can be very helping to independents and small companies, and I've found that having a network of folks to call on when help is needed can be very useful in tackling larger projects.

A point that resonated with me in particular was when Jay said that one of the reasons to find a mentor was to "take away the mystique" that surrounds them. We build professionals up in our heads to be some sort of ultra-creative, business-saavy talent, yet in real life they're very much still just a hard working photographer. I'm guilty of this myself, and found that it builds confidence to work around your idols and see that their success is something that I could attain with continued dedication to my craft. In some cases, it can be quite eye-opening to see that their approach to certain facets of video/photo isn't all that different from yours. It makes me think of this popular article written by Lee Morris a while back, titled, "The Photographers You Idolize Are No Better Than You."

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Mike Wilkinson is an award-winning video director with his company Wilkinson Visual, currently based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Mike has been working in production for over 10 years as a shooter, editor, and producer. His passion lies in outdoor adventures, documentary filmmaking, photography, and locally-sourced food and beer.

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Really interesting. As a trainee starting out, the idea of networking has been on my mind lately, but more in the form of networking with other trainees. As someone that's self-directed, it can be a lonely road when you have literally no-one who's at the same point in their careers.

A mentor would be a wonderful person to learn from and look up to. i intern with an established photographer and arranged an informational interview with a commercial photographer yesterday (and i love to write and present the information I'm finding), but these relationships don't contain the level of support as you'd get from a mentor. The idea of somebody imparting their hard-won wisdom, giving you tips and introducing you to other connections is a very appealing one.

I'm just wondering how you go from interning for somebody, or walking their dogs and having them dispatch friendly advice, or meeting them as a one off for a coffee, to that then becoming a mentoring relationship. It's not something you can bring up too soon or ask them in a formal way... Is it?