We spoke with Californian photographer and mentor, Glenn Lee Robinson, about what makes a good mentor, how mentors have helped him, and what advice he’d give to those seeking one.
Glenn began taking photographs in 2010, when his friend gave him a canon DSLR. He quickly fell in love with the hobby and soon turned professional, photographing graduations, portraits and weddings. In 2015, he discovered the exhilaration and satisfaction of capturing outdoor landscapes. Now, his Hike & Shoot initiative focuses all his energy.
Glenn puts his success down to being interested and resourceful, and found mentors a useful tool to teach him the practical skills needed to become a professional photographer. He spent time practicing what he’d learnt, developing his skills to create his own aesthetic.
Glenn has had many mentors over his time, in all areas of his life, and says there are two things that make a good mentor:
1. They’re better at you in the area you are wishing to grow in
2. They’re humble enough to help you become as good as them.
“I learn well by observation. When I was starting out in photography, I asked Teresa Klostermann if she would allow me to learn from her. At one of her wedding gigs, I was able to attend as her assistant, which gave me hands-on experience. I studied Teresa’s technique of shooting, posing, and applying a creative eye to various scenes. In my early days I mimicked much of what TK taught me, even down to my editing style.
“I also turned to YouTube, which is a great platform for learning different skills, such as editing. I stumbled across David Ilyin a few years ago and literally soaked up as much as possible from his editing tutorials. David talked a lot of about lighting and creating a mood through post processing. His information was very formative and helpful in creating a style of my own. He really helped me understand the power of editing RAW images in Adobe Light room and I still think about his post processing technique every time I open the program to work.
“Over the course of time, I’ve looked for guidance in many people and even now, I turn to mentors to help me grow and challenge myself as a photographer. I recently got connected with brand ambassador Axle Ethington.
“I attended the Outdoor Retailer Conference in Salt Lake City with Axle and we spent 3 days speaking with vendors and networking, which Axle is very good at. I watched him work and learned many valuable insights on how to approach vendors cold-turkey, and how to lock in gigs and get important contact information from potential clients."
“I believe a person can expect to get whatever he or she seeks. So be curious, practice and observe and you, like me, will learn the skills you need to becoming a better photographer and business owner.”
Glenn’s advice for finding a mentor is to “Constantly be curious in your art and seek help in tutorials and workshops. Find a person that inspires you and has the skills you are wishing to learn. This will ensure that the information that’s shared has relevance and impact. Learn to ask for help and don’t get too caught up in ‘what if they say no?’ Put yourself in situations where that type of photographer would be. For instance, if you need a portrait mentor, go to portrait Instameets and see if you can make a connection with someone from whom you’d like to learn.”