My 2015-16 blogs were about my own progress improving as an amateur photographer. I must admit that I felt my progress to be shaky with some good days, and quite a few not-so-good days. I typically attended a monthly photo critique session, which was somewhat helpful, but I often held back on asking for more explanation of the feedback I had received; I didn’t want to reveal how little I knew. I was often apprehensive since Successful people made success look easy.
Our Teton Photography Club was led by a number of very advanced amateur and professional photographers. They had spent years developing their photography skills and their images of landscape and wildlife were impressive to say the least. I’m sure their Success was the result of years of hard work but since I wasn’t present to observe the development of their craft, I found it at time somewhat intimidating (OK, very intimidating) to ask them to slow down and explain their suggested critiques. It was my fault that I didn’t speak-up, but intimidation held me down. It was not the fault of the experts; it was my fault but …
I suspect there were other amateur photographers who had similar thoughts, although I never asked them at the time. But I also suspect that some of the amateur photographers who are reading this blog understand … and you may be hesitant to share the impediments you feel about admitting you don’t understand or are confused. So, what step can a hesitant amateur photographer take to make progress? Who, or what, can help you when you feel confused?
Starting the Peer Mentor Program in April 2016 brought about a significant change for me and my photography, and I believe many of the peer mentors who have joined the program in the last three years have also improved their photography. The Peer Mentor Program mission is to create a comfortable learning environment based on encouragement, respect, support, and challenges. My experience studying motivation at the university for many years helped me to realize the importance of the peer environment.
This basic mission of the peer mentor program has led to expanding from 8 “founders” to more than 40 amateur photographers who meet for a photo shoot and a critique once a month. The success and growth of the program led to dividing into two smaller groups this summer with about 15-20 attendees each month. It’s keeping me busy :-).
This 2020 Blog will explore the growth of the Peer Mentor Program and share what you might find that will help you expand your own photographic development. I will often refer to the views of the actual peer mentors, but I will also share my own experiences improving my photography. I hope the 2020 Blog will help you improve your photography and maybe even help you to create an environment for others to improve their photography.