The “First an Amateur” Challenge

All my adult life I took photographs of family, vacations, and other enjoyable events.  So when I retired I decided to get more serious about developing my photographic skills and an artistic eye.  It wasn’t as easy as I imagined.

I had also been a teacher all of my adult life so as I worked my way through the challenge; I thought I might share what I was learning to encourage others to improve their photographic skills and art.  In 2015 I decided to share what I was learning in a blog called  The title comes from a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Every artist was at first an amateur”

I enjoyed sharing my experiences in the blog with other photographers, responding to their questions and feedback.   But in 2016 I had the opportunity to use my teaching experience in a new endeavor – building a Peer Mentor Program for photographers in our local photography club.  I put all my time and energy into the program and stopped posting my experiences in the blog.

As our Peer Mentor Program grew from 8 members to more than 40 amateur photographers, the educational psychology professor in me was curious about what we had done in the program to bring about so much improvement: I had shared how I was learning in and now I wondered if I could share how we were learning in the Peer Mentor Program.  And then I came across a blog called Quotation Celebration that elaborated on the Emerson quote.  The blog author (Samuel Rodenhizer) explained the 4 principals from the quotation:

1. Success is rarely sudden,

2. Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity,

3. Success is almost always the result of hard work,

4. Successful people make success look easy.

Mr. Rodenhizer’s blog encouraged me to re-start my blog; his four principles are some of the basic foundation of the improvement in my photography and the photography of the peer mentors.  The 2015-16 blog was an elaboration of the situations that led to my improvement.  The 2020 blog will be an elaboration of the principles that have led to the photographic improvements of myself and the peer mentors and some of the challenges we have faced. 

My blog on our Peer Mentor Program is focused on how Joining your photography colleagues, Meeting your photographic challenges, and Advancing your Photography Skills and Art will improve your photography.  The 2020 blog will be built upon what the members of the Peer Mentor Program of the Teton Photography Club have shared with me about how the program has impacted their photography.  I hope our blog will help individuals and other photography clubs build experiences and relationships that improve their photography skills and artistic eye.

And here is the challenge – Improving your photography skills and you photographs does not come easy.  Successful improvement takes time and effort with lots of preparation before you go out for a photo shoot and when you are sitting at your computer.  Don’t get discouraged when you are learning; really good photographers (and sometimes they are your teachers) will say, “OK, this will be easy” which I think is a mortal sin in teaching.  Real improvement will take time, effort, and experiencing frustration.  Hang in there !