Wanted: One Mentor


crit·i·cism n.

The practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating artistic works;
a serious examination and judgment of something

As an individual with strong perfectionistic tendencies, I struggle with receiving criticism. Even when offered in the most loving way, even when I recognize its validity, internally I bristle. I draw in, protecting the smooth, delicate core of myself.

I’m not talking about criticism that is hurtful or harmful, words that come from a place of spite or meanness or pettiness. That we should ignore; let fall off our backs, like so much water over the proverbial dam.

Yet even as a struggle with my own internal reaction, I am hungry for true critique. I recognize that what I actually need now is constructive criticism.

Something that will help me grow; get better; improve my craft. What works in this image? Is it the composition? The crop? The subject matter? What can I do to make this a better image? Is it too sharp? Too saturated? What about the post-processing? Too much; too little?

Don’t get me wrong. There is certainly a part of me which is thrilled to receive 10 “Beautiful shot!” comments on Flickr. Or to gain enough awards to “move up” in rank to the “super-duper” group.

After all, I share my photographs in the hope that my images will move you or inspire you or show you something beautiful. Therefore, the fact that you take the time to recognize my work is greatly appreciated. Your positive comments feed my soul; encourage my efforts. I understand the affirmative benefits of supporting one another in a loving way.

I am probably asking too much from the photography community as a whole. What I am really searching for is a mentor, a teacher, a guide. I want to sit at their feet and absorb. I want real input. I want to be questioned and challenged, even when I don’t want to hear it. Perhaps especially then.

So here’s my job posting:

Wanted: One Photography Mentor. Tough, but fair. Willing to provide unvarnished, yet loving, critique.  Pay: nada. Benefits: the personal satisfaction that derives from guiding a not-so-young photographer on her creative journey.


Posted on August 16, 2011, in Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. This post completely resonated with me . . . hope you find a great mentor.

    • Kathryn,
      My “Want Ad” was partly in jest – but certainly with the tiny hope that a mentor will magically pop out of cyberspace and make themselves available to me. I think we all reach that point in our creative endeavors when that is the next logical step in our development. Fingers crossed.

  2. I love this picture….gorgeous. I am with you on the critiques….I struggle with it and also want it.

    LOL…the job description made me smile.

    • Leaca,
      It is rather puzzling how we don’t want what we crave. I am trying to learn how to be open to what others can teach me. I am so glad that you stopped by – happy to have made you smile as well.

  3. Oh, I’m so with you here. I know exactly what you mean. Good luck. Maybe we’ll both find creative mentors.

  4. great idea I may have to borrow it sometime when I get up enough courage that is. hope you get a response.

  5. Brenda, I’m so glad I found your blog in a post by Cat’s Eye Writer. Your photos convey beauty, sorrow, peace, and an original point of view.

    I understand your longing for a mentor. I still have it too (unrelated to my current artistic passion of writing fiction). Instead of a mentor, I’m blessed with a circle of writing peers. Our mutual love of reading and our drive to master the craft of novel and short story forms has eased the pain of critique and nurtured my strengths as a writer. Our discussions of craft, honest reports of how our work is experienced and nudges towards polishing or clarifying is both liberating and inspirational.

    I wish you the gift of a mentor or an intimate group of peers.

    • Deborah,
      I am so glad that you followed the link to my door – please do stay awhile and visit! And stop back again.

      Count yourself very lucky to have such a valuable circle of writing peers. I have many online friends who support my efforts and I am so grateful for their presence in my artistic life. But what I need now is an honest assessment of my work and how to make it better. I adore compliments as much as the next person but now I need the input of a teacher, not a friend. So, I have put the wish out into the universe – we shall see what returns.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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