One of the many opportunities provided to students is the availability of mentors to help develop provhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifide advice, develop ideas, and improve portfolios among other things. On Wednesday, April 20, 2005 I had the pleasure of visiting photojournalist Dai Sugano at the San Jose Mercury News. Mr. Sugano, and his fellow photographers, were all extremely friendly and welcoming. Mr. Sugano looked at the work I have done so far and gave me advice on how to improve as well as suggestions for future projects.
Why exactly am I going on and on about my experience at the Mercury News? Mentoring, or even simply corresponding with professional photojournalists through email, is a great way to have work critiqued, network, and get a better sense of the daily operations of a staff photographer. Of course, the first place to look for a mentor should be your photojournalism professor. National organizations such as the National Press Photographers Association offer mentor programs to their members, with discounts for student memberships. Local organizations also provide mentoring opportunities, and guarantee that the mentor will live in the same area and be accessible. Photojournalism students in the SF Bay area are encouraged to join the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association. Perhaps the easiest way to get in touch with a photographer is to simply email him/her. Take initiative and start a dialogue between yourself and a photographer that you respect and whose work you admire.
Mentoring provides a one-on-one relationship that can be difficult to come by in a regular classroom setting. It also opens up a whole new world of resources and is something that I hope more students begin to take advantage of.