Mentoring to Excellence - Why is it needed?
I was recently asked why I wanted to create a creative course for wedding photographers. It is pretty simple: As a judge and mentor, I have seen thousands of images and met hundreds of photographers over the years. I have learnt that no mentoring programme can nurture creative talents to help wedding photographers take their photography to an outstanding level, win awards, and prepare for professional qualification. I have created this course using all of my knowledge as a wedding photographer and judge and with the experience of mentoring several wedding photographers to become regional award winners within the UK as well as photographers gaining all levels of professional qualifications from Liceientatship to Fellowship.
As creative people, we struggle with Impostor Syndrome; we feel like a fraud; we don't believe we are talented, judge ourselves against our peers, and are our worst critics. This causes us to undercharge for our talent and worth, treating our businesses as hobbies. We lack the confidence to show up online and in businesses.
However, by developing and nurturing our creativity, we rid the feelings of self-doubt, step into our creative flow, have the confidence to price our product with confidence and shoot fewer weddings for more, truly valuing our worth.
Not only that, but we can start to enter into professional photography awards, creating great PR for our business, getting us noticed in the industry, elevating our confidence, and continually shed feelings of self-doubt and imposture syndrome.
Having been on this same journey, taking years to shed the feelings of self-doubt and impostor syndrome. The course I have written is especially for wedding photographers, taking the photographer on a twelve-month journey to improve their Photography with immediate effect. Guiding the photographer through managing client expectations, managing a wedding to create signature wedding photography, and breaking down award-winning images to demonstrate how to create impact through pose, composition, light, storytelling and more. We look at workflows, post-production and managing our businesses with confidence - within twelve months, you will feel amazing! You will be shooting weddings with purpose, creating images with the potential to win awards, and creating great PR for your business, but most of all, the feelings of being a Freud will have passed.
So - why me? Why would you invest in improving your business and nurturing your talent with me?
Let's go back a few years and tell you how I found this fantastic world we work in. Before becoming a wedding photographer, I had a career in Television. I worked at a post-production facility managing schedules, editors and budgets - I loved it, but I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mum when I found out I was pregnant with my first bundle of joy. I love being a mum, and with our first daughter firmly present in the world, my second bundle of joy joined us some 16 months later. Despite being busy as a mum, I needed something more.
Having always worked in creative industries, I wanted something that was going to challenge me as a creative, bring in some income and give me some independence. I wanted a lifestyle business where I could manage my time around my family, be my own boss and be a successful artist.
The world of Photography was calling. I dreamt of being an artist and selling my work in a gallery in Brighton; I studied Photography part-time at a local college for a little over a year before I was invited to shoot as a second shooter for my Lecture at a wedding. WOW! I loved it. It was amazing. I could take my passion for creativity and create amazing images for my clients - I was hooked!
I founded Fiona Elizabeth Photography in November 2009. I had my first wedding that Month, followed by my friend's wedding; the business grew year after year. However, no matter how good I was, no matter the compliments for my work, I struggled with imposter syndrome. I never felt qualified. I never felt good enough, and on occasion, I found it hard to translate what was in my mind's eye into an image and photograph. Despite my struggles, I decided the only way to success was to push myself towards becoming a professionally qualified wedding photographer. I wanted the validation so I could share my success with my clients. However, it wasn't so easy. Despite studying photography, becoming a professionally qualified wedding photographer is so very different.
To achieve professional qualifications, we need not only to have good technical skills, but we need to be creative too. We must use our imaginations to create something representing us as artists. We also need to demonstrate that we have the ability to communicate with our clients to achieve the look we want. We have to do all of this and achieve outstanding photography in a fast-paced, pressured environment while taking on the responsibility of shooting a client's wedding. It is not for the faint-hearted, but it pushes us outside of our comfort zone to become excellent wedding photographers - it is amazing what we can achieve with the right guidance and training!
In 2013 I decided to apply for a licentiateship with The Societies of Photographers. I pulled 20 images that I thought demonstrated my hard work, technical skills and creativity. How wrong I was! It was a painful learning curve.
Over the following year, I became my own mentor, judge and critic. In 2014 I produced another body of work I was proud of. I applied for my Liceientatship with two of the largest photographic bodies in the UK, The Societies of Photographers and the British Institute of Professional Photography, but instead of qualifying for a licentiate-ship, I was awarded my Associate-ship in Wedding Photography! I couldn't believe it! Finally, I was on the path I wanted to be on and moving towards my Fellowship.
However, something had changed. I had reached a creative glass ceiling, which I couldn't break through, no matter how hard I tried. Frustrated and incredibly hard on myself, I found myself a mentor who could take my Photography to another level. A level of photography that reflected who I was as an artist.
With immediate effect, I could finally translate what I could see in my mind's eye. I was able to create exceptional Photography, understanding how to create impact with pose and light. I became more observant of my surroundings. I was able to read light differently, direct my clients, push creative boundaries and take risks with my work without feeling inadequate. From struggling on my own, I found a mentor with whom I could bounce off, share my creative ideas, and go out and confidently create those ideas.
While learning new skills and thriving in my wedding business, an opportunity arose to photograph a project in the migrant camp in Calais. With my newly found confidence, I jumped at the chance and spent 72 hours in the camp, meeting people and documenting this horrendous environment. I self-published my book London Calling, a photographic essay depicting life in the camp. Later that year, the photography from the project won awards, and I was accredited an Associateship in Documentary photography.
Having learnt so much about myself shooting London Calling, I decided I wanted to shoot something that demonstrated my talent as an artist and my ability to produce a body of work from conception through execution. It was around 2018 that I began to create Atrophy - a fine art project which was a personal reflection on the housing crisis in England. My work went on to sell in a local gallery and was awarded the highest accolade within our industry. I finally became a Fellow member of both photographic bodies, for which I now judge and mentor photographers.
What an incredible journey I had been on. I went from feeling like a Freud, not believing in myself or my talent, to becoming a multi-award-winning photographer, published author, artist and speaker.
With all the industry insight, experience and knowledge, I have written this twelve-month programme for you, the photographer. To help guide, mentor, and train you to be your best. By encouraging and nurturing your creativity, I will help you overcome imposture syndrome, build your confidence in managing clients' expectations and create signature wedding photography, where you can begin to shoot fewer weddings for more and charge your worth. Together we will build you a stunning portfolio of work, giving you the confidence to enter awards and perhaps even apply for professional qualifications.
The best thing about this course is that you can see immediate changes within your work. Your confidence will grow month on month, and by the end of the twelve months, you will be a completely different photographer, talking to your ideal client and shooting fewer weddings for more!
You are not on your own either and have access to me once a week, where you can ask specific questions to help you refine your style and Photography.
To get you started, I have created a short 30-minute training video, which you can access below, and join our growing Facebook group community, where you can share your work and experiences with me and your peers. The mentoring programme will launch this Autumn and will become your photography bible providing you with all the skills from managing clients to shooting exceptional photography, great post-production skills and business support to grow and scale your business.