is the photographer him or herself!

As I’ve stated before, when I first started getting serious about photography, I found a “mentor”. When I looked at his work, it was AMAZING! I was sure he was in major magazines. I contacted him and we talked photography. Today when I reflect on it, he really didn’t teach me much in the way of learning, but I learned a lot of what NOT to do. Anyway, after talking to him, I suggested he start teaching workshops and it was there that he told me if I put on workshops for him to teach at, he could cut me in at 50%. Understand that all marketing, reaching out to people, that would be on me (how nice to cut me in at 50% when all he did was show up!) We ended up putting two on and they were both successful. Toward the end, he confided in me “Right now, I’d say you were top five photographers in MN. I’m #1, Mike is #2 and probably you.”

I was elated until I found the work of David Hickey. When I showed my “Mentor” Hickey’s work, he said “Meh, that guy is pretty good, but all he does is commercial work. He couldn’t shoot indoors if his life depended on it” I was floored. I saw and right away loved Hickey’s work. At that point, my wife started to really drill in my head to break away from this “mentor” and branch out. After a series of events, I ended up breaking away. A few years later, I returned to my former “mentors” webpage only to see he hadn’t advanced at all. His work was the exact same and I was unable to tell a difference between what was shot in 2000 and what was shot in 2004. It was at that point that I learned the biggest threat to professional photography is the photographer themselves.

I had decided to grow as an artist, it is important to get a style or vision and with that vision, continue to grow and change it up. Because of that, I am always adding or taking away something from my look. It’s still the same mind you, but there’s always something different to it and that is how I’m still growing. The past few days I made a post on a photography forum. One of the guys replied that he didn’t like my photo, hey, that’s cool, I’m a big boy and I love what I do and that’s all that matters. He tried to “educate” me on how to use a beauty dish and even offered me classes. I took a peak at his work and one of the things he says is guys who shoot tf* work do so because they’re bringing the same look to your book. I glanced over 20 or so of his images and guess what? They ALL looked the same! He has nice work (cookie cutter and very saturated) but it was all the same-seen one, seen them all- kinda thing.

In closing, I went to my old “mentors” page (had to ask the wife what his name was because I forgot :( ) Guess what? His work is TOTALLY the same! Same today as it was 10 years ago. Oddly enough, one of the last emails he sent me, he told me I was never going to amount to anything in the photography world. Last I heard, he was living in one of his models basement mooching off her.

Here’s some of my growth:


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