Investing in education is scary.

  • How do you choose someone who isn’t going to bullshit you?
  • Which education is right for YOU?
  • Who has the best advice?

Finding someone who will be upfront and honest with you but also give value for the money you’re spending on education with them is, unfortunately, few and far between. Education is TRENDY right now in the Photography industry. Not only was it trendy before Covid hit the US, but now it’s even more trendy because Photographers are defaulting to offering education while they’re not able to shoot. This is… not good. Unexperienced photographers are charging new photographers for value they’re not trained or experienced enough to offer. This pollutes the photography education atmosphere and gives new photographers a bad experience with education – causing them to distance themselves from investing into their professional education because of their shitty experience. This keeps others from growing and being the best photographer they can be. So, how do you find a photography mentor that is right for you? How do you avoid getting bamboozled?

Before diving into options, make sure you understand what you’re looking to learn. If you’re looking to learn skills, you aren’ t going to hire a mentor that specializes in Business. If you’re wanting to learn more about business, you’re not going to hire a mentor that specializes in Editing Technique.

Then, take their personality into account. Yes, make sure you actually like them. Unlike college courses where you don’t get to choose who you learn from, you have the power to choose who you learn from! From personal experience, I learn best from mentors who have the same values as I do! I know I need someone who is upfront and won’t teach me “fluff.” I need someone to tell me where I could grow and give me the resources to do that growing. In college, it was hard for me to learn from professors I didn’t like or didn’t get along with.

Once you have a few prospects, go through these steps.

1. If their work isn’t up to par, their education won’t be either.

Just because someone claims they can teach you something, doesn’t mean they’re experts on the topic. If their work isn’t work that impresses or inspires you, they’re not going to be able to teach you anything new. Some red flags include:

  • Inconsistent editing style
  • Lack of consistent work/gigs
  • Work that you don’t aspire to make

2. Ask them how much they make.

Now, this will be on a subjective basis. If you’re taking a course to only learn how to use Lightroom – this question isn’t really necessary. IF you’re taking a mentorship to learn anything business related (branding, marketing, sales, etc.) this is absolutely necessary. I know this seems uncomfortable but an awesome educator would be happy to share that info with you. This is not a taboo subject with business educators who know the true importance of investing in yourself.

3. Ask for the names of a couple past students.

Reach out to past students of your ideal mentor and ask for an honest review of their mentorship or education experience. Unfortunately, some people feel weird about giving a true review on their blog or to the educator themselves in fear of making them mad. When you talk to them privately, you’re more likely to get an honest opinion. This is probably the best piece of advice I can give to anyone trying to find a mentor that won’t bamboozle them.

These are all characteristics that were considered when creating Cultivate Education. Cultivate is a safe space for photographers at all levels to grow, learn, and ask questions. It’s a place where affordable education lives. Education shouldn’t only be available to the elite – education is a right. Combining my masters degree in education with informal educational outlets, I was able to create a place for photographers to cultivate their own growth without having to skip groceries next week.

Now that you know how to find the person that is right for you, how do you know what type of education is right for you? Do you need coaching? What about online education? Do you need a quick one-time class to clear a few questions up?