The Most Valuable Skill a Mentor Can Teach You

A few months back, Drake (@drake) tweeted: The first million is the hardest. Moments later, T.Boone Pickens (@boonepickens) replied with: The first billion is a helluva lot harder. To which draked responded: @boonepickens just stunted on me heavy.

This recent event reminds me of a classic quote: “A mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”

I’m fortunate to have many mentors in my life. Through the years, 1 insight about mentorship stands out above all the rest. Surprisingly, very few people talk about it. Before we dive in, please know that I’m assuming the following sentence is true for you:

There is this problem or fear or challenge or concern or simply, you want to make sure you’re doing “it” right.

If I’m completely off the mark, this article is probably a waste of your time. But if these examples sound familiar, please keep reading. Speaking from experience, I can relate to …

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A Challenge to Photographers Who Love the Craft

This is for the person who sees the world in photos, who loves the craft of photography and gets frustrated when they witness less “crafty” photographers hustling them in marketing, value creation and profits.

If any of this sounds like you, my advice is simple: decide right now if you’re a glorified hobbyist or professional photographer.

Who is the Glorified Hobbyist?

Many of the most talented full-time photographers I know are actually glorified hobbyists. They enjoy the illusion of “busy-ness” but resent the challenge of business. They are dangerously impulsive or utterly indecisive and don’t do well with criticism. Their methods or workflows break under pressure.

Until recently, I was a glorified hobbyist.

Realizing this truth was at once terrifying and liberating. Below are some insights that have worked for me on my journey from Glorified Hobbyist to Professional Photographer:

1. Stop charging for your services by the hour.

“People and businesses who hire you are, in …

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How to Balance Professional Growth and Personal Development

In 2010, I began documenting the most inspiring in women my life. Many of these women are mothers and teachers. The first photographs I created were of my own mother, aunt and grandmother – all teachers and mothers. This image was made in Brooklyn on Mother’s Day.

“The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire, and persistence. Talent without these things vanishes and even modest talent with those characteristics grows.” – Milton Glaser

I believe creating a balance of professional growth and personal development is the key to success. Few creative professionals embody these values like Milton Glaser. Watch this to find out why:

As I described in my last article, art is work and there are very few shortcuts to excellence. Milton Glaser spent decades fine-tuning his craft socially (for friends in his neighborhood), through formal education (High School for the Arts, Cooper …

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The Nutcracker Challenge: Part I

Parris Whittingham

“Even in the works of the greatest master, the organic sequence can fail and then a skillful join must be made.” – Tchaikovsky

Several months ago, a childhood dream of mine came true. My Mom and I saw the New York City Ballet perform The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Growing up, I was enchanted by this world of sugar plum fairies, whimsical music and indoor snow. Nearly two decades later, these childhood fascinations were re-energized.

After the show, I became curious about why The Nutcracker is such a commercial success and how it became the most popular ballet in the world. Exploring this story offers deeper understanding about creating a “Nutcracker” within your photography business.

Create Space for Listening In 1892, the first production of The Nutcracker was staged at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Unlike the production I witnessed at Lincoln Center, the original show was a commercial failure. Critics …

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The Ultimate Sign of Credibility

Thomas Edwards just got engaged. If you know Thomas you’re probably engaged yourself or actively pursuing a path towards love (and lovemaking). A few days ago, we met up for drinks and I half-jokingly asked The Professional Wingman if getting married was “bad for business.” Without skipping a beat, he coolly said, “Being a product of your own service is the ultimate sign of credibility.”

A Choice of Trainers Using Thomas’ example: Let’s imagine you want to hire a personal trainer and meet with two prospects. Trainer #1 has an amazing physique, optimistic attitude and offers a personal story about how fitness is transforming her life. Trainer #2 is overweight, defensive when you ask about it and insistent that his fitness method is the best. Overall, credibility is our belief in the trustworthiness and expertise of the source.

While it may be easy to judge Trainer #2, I’d be surprised if you didn’t …

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