A site that I frequent that I don't think many of my colleagues do, is DeviantART. It has a bit of a bad reputation for being drama central, and I have to admit I have seen the drama on there; but it has never effected me. I tend to stay to my own little crowd, and now that I've learned I keep some of my more controversial opinions to myself, and it works well. So if you do not use DeviantART at all, perhaps give it a try. You can find me on there at the following link: http://saknika.deviantart.com
That being said, I recently joined a group on there called The Photography Union. DeviantART is saturated with groups for photography, but this one stands out from the crowd because it's not simply promoting the work of photographers, it's striving to promote the growth of photographers, and to share their finest photographs. Certainly, this doesn't mean they are only sharing professional-quality work, but they are sharing what they feel shows that they have a diverse community of photographers willing to teach, and to learn.
What got me the most though, was that since they want to promote learning so much, they started a Mentor Project. Now, the one currently going on is phase two, meaning there was one before this! So I have high hopes that there will be more after this as well.
Upon seeing this I immediately signed up as a mentor, and I did so for a few reasons.
The first, and biggest one, is that I love teaching. I always thought I'd hate teaching because it'd be too monotonous, but I've proven myself otherwise when it comes to photography. I love seeing how my simple comments and suggestions help those who are looking for such critiques grow, and improve. I love sharing my knowledge with others, and seeing how their creativity interprets it. And I love helping create a mind primed with the tools it needs to do the best it can out there in the artistic world. I know I'm not going to be able to teach someone everything, but to know I am playing a part, even a small one, in the process someone goes through to discover who they are as a photographer gives me great elation. There's nothing like it.
I also noticed that the group had tons of people wanting to have a mentor, and not enough mentors to go around! So even if there was someone I would have loved to learn from, there were just too many trainees, and so I decided to fill in a mentor position. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Being a mentor is also going to help me see if my ways of teaching are effective or not. If I ever decide to do this in a classroom setting, I need to know. And I'm a firm believer that if you can teach it over the internet, you can probably teach it in a classroom.
Those are my big reasons, but I have many various little ones as well that I won't bore you with here.
Now, I'm also aware that I am not the greatest photographer out there, but I do have knowledge that others can use. So no matter what, I have something to bring to the table, and to teach, and that's exactly what I'm doing.
Meet my trainee, CrossMyHeart13. He has nothing but a point-and-shoot, passion, and an eager mind. But, he asked me to teach him anything, and we decided on fine art black and white photography. He hasn't been shooting long, but he has the eye and the heart, and so I'm enjoying working with him.
The first assignment I gave him to take care of, as per the mentor project details, was to capture the six elements of b+w photography. I learned these back in my High School photography class, and I never forgot them.
Here is what my trainee came up with, not all on his first try, but overall:
Please click on it to see the full view.
I'm very proud of him, and am excited to see where we can take it from here! Assignment two is going to cover lighting, and how it can affect the mood of a photograph.