Finding a mentor is bloody hard, and finding a very good one is even harder. Each year I treat myself to a workshop. Sometimes it’s so I can watch someone teach, others it is to learn new skills. Sometimes it’s to produce prints so it’s the equipment I am chasing. It’s my little annual reward for myself. I need to be really clear about why I am going and I spend a lot of time choosing with whom I trust to bare myself to as a student.
Over the years I have had some terrible teachers. Ones whom put me and my work down. The ones whom believe that they have to shape you into their mouldy shapes are the worst, they are the ones who continually tell you where you are going wrong. They are the ones who make me feel like giving up.
Luckily there are some amazing teachers out there like Freeman Paterson. I know he is good because I still want to show him my work years latter. His ability to make me feel safe and supported is exemplary. This is to do with his gentle encouraging nature and broad tastes in art and photography. Years and years of experience doesn’t go astray either.
It is because I don’t feel judged when I show great mentors my work. It’s not their opinion about quality that counts, its their support, encouragement and direction that makes me feel I am on the right track. You see they are not trying to make your work like theirs. They are trying to help you get to you. So that your work is the greatest expression of you.
See the answer, it’s about you and your work.
Freeman Paterson, The Edge of Perception Workshop, Hopewell, New Zealand.
Photograph and words copyright © Len Metcalf 2018