Feb 5, 2024

How to Find a Photography Mentor & Why It’s Essential in 2024

Do you need a mentor for your photography? Yes! How do you find the right one? I'll tell you.

Hunter Scott
Hunter Scott
How to Find a Photography Mentor & Why It’s Essential in 2024

Photography is hard. You Need a Photography Mentor.

Making it a profession, and then a business, and then profitable? That’s extremely challenging. In order to succeed, you need help from lots of people! You probably need help from marketing people, and accounting people, and probably an agent at some point. Most important of all, you need a Mentor - someone who’s been there, done that, and is more than happy to offer advice, opinions, and the occasional awkward hug. Keep reading, and I’ll show you how to find a mentor that’s perfect for you, and why it’s so important, as well as a few tips and tricks for growing your photography.

Why Are Photography Mentors so Important?

Photography is a long, hard process. It’s hard to get good feedback, since your friends and family are likely not photographers, and they like you as a person, so they are likely to be nicer than they should. 

A photo mentor will not pull their punches as lightly, pushing you to develop your voice and style further.

With mentorship, you’ll also have someone to pester and ask questions, get opinions, and work through problems. 

Not only does this take a lot of stress off you, but mentorship has actually been proven to make you more successful

Photography Mentor Hunter Scott Photo
Me with one of my students

What Should You Look For In A Photography Mentorship?

When looking for a mentor to help you along your photographic journey, you should try to find someone who’s done what you want to do - that much is obvious. What else?

I think it’s very important to get along on a casual, informal basis with your mentor - or at least find them easy to talk to. An important part of mentorship is receiving tough feedback, asking tough questions, and working your way through really tricky problems. Being able to be candid and relaxed with your mentor is super important!

It’s also worth thinking, from an artistic perspective, about whether your mentor has a similar style to you, or is familiar with your style. I am certain that Van Gogh would be an amazing mentor to a painter, but he might not be able to help much if you’re an architectural photojournalist who shoots film!

What Questions Should You Ask Your Photography Mentor?

First and foremost; you should ask them about their experience in the field you are in. Make sure that your prospective mentor is familiar with your approach, your style, and the kind of work you want to be making. 

It’s also a good idea to try to find someone who understands the subjects that you are investigating with your photographic practice. If you document rural businesses, someone who grew up on a farm will understand your work on a much deeper level than a city slicker would (full disclosure: I am a converted city slicker)

You probably also want to ask about their availability, rates, and how much time they’ll be able to spend on you. You might also have questions about their location, experience, and their own personal work.

How To Find a Photography Mentor?

Photographers (left to right) Matt Stuart, Hunter Scott, and Anna Lohmann
Matt Stuart, Me, and Anna Lohmann at MPF in Bristol

Finding a photography mentor can be daunting to say the least. One thing I’ve learned after years of meeting some of the biggest names in the photo space is this: everyone is lovely, and just a normal person like you and me. Find some photographers that produce work that inspires you, and simply reach out to them! Ask if they offer any sort of mentorship. We don’t bite, and it’s flattering to be approached as an expert, even when you’re a photography star. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, try searching the instagram explore page for work that catches your eye!

Of course, I’m glad you asked, yes! I do offer mentorship, and I’d love to help you to build your portfolio, take better photos, grow your audience, and take this thing full time. You can quit your job to take photos. Still blows my mind. Apply here!

The Benefits of a Photography Mentorship Program

Photography mentorship has so many benefits outside of education. You’ll have a foot in the door with someone who is established in their niche, and they’re likely to be able to connect you to all sorts of great artists, agents, and even clients

Your photo mentor will sometimes also provide a bit of emotional support. This industry is full of rejection, failure, and tricky problems. Your mentor will help you push yourself to go further, and create better, and do more! Failing is how we get better.

You might also find that your photography mentorship provides a new stream of inspiration. You’ll get to see work that’s on your wavelength that you might not have seen if not for your mentor, and as a result, you’ll create so much more, and so much faster.

Should You Look For A Photography Mentor Near You, Or Online?

In this day and age, you technically can find a great mentor near you if you live in one of the major cities for photography - like NYC or Milan, but in most cases, you’ll have so much more choice and flexibility finding a photo mentor online. 

You’ll be able to DM your work over straight away, get feedback instantly, and ideate in real time.

Another benefit of online mentorship is the other perks that often come with remote learning - digital resources, meetups, and social media!

Other Important Factors For A Photo Mentorship

Street Photography Mentor Hunter Scott with Students
Me with students in tow on a hardcore photo walk (we did 40,000 steps!)

Photography mentorship is essential - and as it’s learning and development, it’s actually tax deductible in most cases! A mentor is an investment in your business and in your art. 

Try not to get caught up in quick wins. This is a long process, and ideally, you want to get to know your mentor really well, over a long period of time, so that you can operate on the same wavelength. My mentorship programmes start at a minimum of six months, because in photo years, that’s barely a minute.

Photography Mentorship vs Photography Masterclasses

Whilst masterclasses are a hugely useful resource to push your photography forwards, they are not a replacement for long term mentorship. While masterclasses are super useful for immersion learning in one particular area, they aren’t meant to develop your long term career, your art, or help you to consistently improve. When you’re budgeting for photo learning, I recommend that you prioritise a mentor, as well as at least one focussed masterclass a year.

Once again - If you’d like me to be your mentor, I’d love to meet you! Click here to apply!