Two months ago, I finally made a commitment to myself to upgrade my FirstanAmateur.com. I had thought about it for a long time but wasn’t sure if I had the commitment, the enthusiasm, and the technology skills to dive in.
But I have a friend who has very good technology skills and he kept encouraging me to go ahead and start upgrading my website. I was developing pages on our Teton Photography Club website for the Peer Mentor Program which was helping me learn online “skills.” This experience also got me thinking about adding a gallery to my FirstanAmateur.com. There were days when I felt confident that I was really learning, and other days when I was terribly frustrated and confused. But my friend Aaron was there to answer questions that helped build my confidence, and never made me feel foolish or incompetent; “OK Randy, just give me a call and we can figure this out together.”
I didn’t make the connection at the time, but now I can look back at the motivational roller-coaster I took to make a commitment to improving my webpage. My frustration building the website sure sounds like the motivational roller-coaster many amateur photographers experience. Are you willing to put forward the time, energy, and deal with the potential failure you might experience as you try to improve your photography? When you go out for a photoshoot and feel excited that the images are going to be great, how do you feel when you get home and look at them on your computer and they are barely OK? Yea, I know the feeling! It is frustrating and discouraging. There are a lot of ways to get over that feeling but let me start with the one I just experienced.
I was able to deal with the frustration of trying to improve my website skills because I had a mentor that helped me learn the necessary skills AND he was encouraging, respectful, supportive, and gave me reasonable challenges – sound familiar? Aaron was there to help me deal with frustration and explained that it took him a while to learn these skills. He didn’t “baby” me, he just helped me realize that developing a higher-level webpage was going to take time and that he would be available. And when I calmed down and looked back it was easy to see the mentor relationship – and Aaron made it feel like a peer mentor relationship. He didn’t say it was going to be easy and his response to my questions never led me to “feel stupid.”
You may not see learning website skills as “artistic” but in retrospect I see my experience developing the FirstanAmateur.com website as quite similar to the motivational challenges I faced trying to improve my photography. Successful photography doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and is very likely to cause frustration and anxiety. Just like learning how to create a reasonably good website. Successful photography is the result of hard work and the motivation to continue your efforts in the face of “failure.” Sure, some folks might catch on quickly to the necessary technical skills to develop a website, but I tripped many times along the way. I had a mentor that never sent a message that led me to feel “stupid” and it really helped.
Aaron helped me feel comfortable learning WordPress which eventually led to confidence and a willingness to keep working. If you are looking to improve your photography, I hope the FirstanAmateur.com website/blog will help you. As I move forward sharing how my peer mentor friends helped me improve my photography, I will also share how they improved their photography by being involved in the Peer Mentor Program. I hope this website/blog will help you to improve your photography and maybe help you develop a peer mentoring program that will help others improve their photography.