One of the most valuable things you can do when you start your business?
No, it’s not new gear. It’s not a brilliant website either. No, it’s not even a social media strategy that you need.
You need a mentor.
Finding a photography mentor is going to be one of the best decisions you will make in the beginning stages of your business. Finding a mentor can be the one thing that will separate you from your competition and more importantly, separates you from the statistics of those young photographers that quit in the first 3 to 5 years.
1. They Made Mistakes Too
One of the biggest and most obvious reasons why you need a mentor is to learn from them. And not only to learn from their successes. Maybe more crucial is learning from their mistakes. While no one wants to admit that they have made tons of mistakes, everyone has and those who have made those mistakes and overcome them are going to be some of your most valuable resources.
They were young and in the beginning of their business at some point too. They know or have an idea of some of the struggles you have gone through. Despite technology, camera gear, and new strategies of a photography business, some of the same values and rules of business remain constant. Those are the ideas and obstacles that you want to learn from your mentor in order to overcome them yourself or avoid them altogether.
2. They Have Serious Tips
Not only can you learn from the mistakes or trials that the pros have gone through, you can also learn some of the ways that they have avoided problems. These masters have plenty of tips to share thanks to their years of experience and maybe even a mentor in their early days as well.
Whether they picked up camera tips on composition or editing or have found easier or smoother ways to market to a certain audience, time has been working in their favor and is now working in yours. Take notes, ask questions, and find out what these pros can give you to ensure that you capture these tips and tricks that will help your skill, your mental preparedness, and every other part of your photography business as well.
3. They Have Seen Hundreds of Customers
Exposure. Photography mentors have had lots of exposure to audiences of people over years and years. This is also going to be a hugely valuable asset to you. Not only can they help you find connections or other mentors, but they have spent plenty of time talking to people. All kinds of people, too!
They were the original masters of customer service if they have been photographer longer than 10 years. In the days with lacking or minimal technology, the mentors you will find now have tested and mastered ways to engage an audience and ways to communicate in a way that is often unknown to younger photographers.
4. They Want You To Be Successful
Turns out, in a world where everyone is a photographer, the greats often go unseen. But these mentors that you find to help you and guide you are very peculiar in one way that only great photographers can have.
They want you to succeed.
You might have friends that are photographers or even enemies as photographers, but odds are in one way or another, you are probably competing. Unless they are in a different niche, of course. Most of the time, we create friendships with those whose work we like or admire or would like to emulate, but those are your competitors really. They wish you well and will have great creative conversations with you but if push comes to shove they would take your clients, too.
Mentors are not like that. They have had their glory days and have been in love with this industry for far longer than you and that is to your invaluable advantage. They are no longer competing and they want their own successes to help the industry grow and move forward. They want you to be successful. They want to help you.
The best part about finding a mentor is having someone who will guide you, teach you, and root for you and if you are very lucky will recommend you as a mentor in the future to another young, upcoming photographer so they circle can continue.