Advancing Together with Mentors

Improving your photography is not an easy task.  You may have friends or colleagues that have shown you great photos, which may have led you to feel discouraged.  They make success look easy, but it isn’t.  If you went out with them on a photo shoot and then saw their images the next week, your discouragement probably increased.  You took pictures of the same event but you were embarrassed to show them to your friend.  What your colleagues may not have told you is they have been working hard on improving their photography for years.  They have put in lots of hours behind their lens and at their computer, hours that you never saw and they may not even remember.  So what should you do to improve your photography?  

In 2015 I decided to share what I was learning, and the challenges I was facing, through a blog I called  I stumbled quite a bit and put in a lot of hours but my progress was quite slow.  I went to photo critiques at our Teton Photography Club and shared what I thought were pretty good photos, but they weren’t very good compared to the photos of others.  But I met quite a few other amateur photographers, some of whom were in the same dilemma I was experiencing.  Just going out and taking lots of photos and then bringing them in for a monthly critique wasn’t leading to the progress I had hoped to have.  I needed someone to help me.

In March 2016 I decided to take what I had learned about “How to Learn Photography” and started a program I called the Peer Mentor Program in the Teton Photography Club.  On April 13, 2016 I wrote my last blog post “Is it your Challenge Too?” and on April 25th I launched the Peer Mentor Program.  The Peer Mentor Program took a lot of time BUT it had a huge impact on my own photography and I soon found out it also helped other amateur photographers.  In the first three years the PMP grew from about 6 members to more than 40 committed amateur photographer who meet for a photo shoot and unique critique meeting every month.  In a sense I took a three year sabbatical to find a good “teaching strategy” that would help me and my amateur photography friends to learn how to be much better photographers.  Now I would like to share what I have learned in a new First an Amateur blog.

The First an Amateur website will soon have a variety of pages that hopefully will help you to explore photography on a number of levels.  I hope to share what I have learned, what my peer mentors have learned, and what challenges we have faced.  I will create a Gallery to share my photos,  a Peer Mentor Resources page that will include the themes of the peer mentor program and the on-line articles we have used to learn about those challenging, and a Contact Randy page for you to give me some feedback or ask questions.  I will also have two blog routes you can take; one for the Old Blog (2015-16) and one for 2020 Blog.

If you are interested in joining the journey, you might want to start by reading  Where is Your Photography? and giving some thought to how committed you are to improving your photography.  Every photographer is welcome and you may find you are ready to take the first few steps.