I just finished a mentorship with the fabulously talented Tabitha Patrick of Little Bit of Life Photography in Port Huron, MI. I’ve been
stalking following her work online for about a year and something about it really resonated with me. Her style is clean, natural and real. She has a generous spirit and she’s a natural teacher. Little did she know that my leaving nice comments on her pictures was just my buttering her up to ask her to mentor me. She wasn’t advertising being a mentor. She never even mentioned mentorships. But I knew she could teach me something. So at the end of the year I asked her point blank: will you be my mentor? And she immediately said yes. I think (hope) she saw something of herself in me and my style and realized that she had something very valuable to share.
We did three one-hour sessions using Yahoo! Messenger and screen sharing with with join.me which is a free service and SO AWESOME. I could watch her work in real-time. Tabitha gave me shooting assignments and then walked me through my images. We covered editing, composition, etc. I asked questions. She answered. It was the best money I’ve ever spent. I could see my photography improve by leaps and bounds in just a short amount of time. I feel more confident and excited about my photography. The one-on-one aspect of the mentorship was exactly what I needed. Honest feedback. Real answers. No bullshit. No silly forums to navigate. No waiting for someone to give me a half-ass critique of my pictures.
In addition to sharing this experience and letting you know how awesome Tabitha is, I actually have a point. And it’s this: be careful, VERY CAREFUL, where you spend your photography education dollars. Be WARY of the pretty, fancy workshops that cost lots of money and boast access to some of the top photographers in the industry. Think hard about what you’re really hoping to get out of a workshop or seminar. Consider what’s being offered and weigh it against what you need. Don’t be drawn in by “freebies” such as actions or presets or templates. They’re not worth $600!
Don’t get me wrong. Early in my career I had great experiences with online workshops, namely Finding the Light Workshop and The Speedlight Workshop. These workshops targeted specific skills and the instructors were very responsive. The classes also weren’t too big which is important. Not only did I learn lots, I made some great friends. But I’ve also shelled out money for “something shiny” workshops and I regret it to this day. I have another friend who took the same workshop and is also kicking herself for spending the money. (If you want to know which one, email. I don’t want to publicly bash anyone here…)
One of the reasons I love photography is that there is ALWAYS something to learn. I love learning. And there are lots of opportunities out there to further your skills. So think about now only WHAT you want to learn but HOW you like to learn. Are you one who likes the online learning environment or would you rather learn in-person? Do you learn by doing or do you like to study the theory behind it? Whatever you do, just don’t throw your money away. Ask questions. Read reviews. Do your homework before handing over your hard-earned money.
If I were you, I’d find your own Tabitha and ask them to mentor you. What do you have to lose? I guarantee they’ll be incredibly flattered and they’ll say yes.