The Sackville Photography Club had a great idea this year to have some of the members who felt they had a little more experience lead mentoring sessions. These sessions were organized by topic and since I spend a lot of time doing what I call "street photography" I volunteered to be a mentor in that category.
In the last session yesterday I had a full range of photographers from people just learning how to shoot in manual mode to photographers who have a quite a bit of experience with their camera but don't get out in the street to shoot and wanted to try it out. I learned a lot from the experience.
From the photographers who haven't had a lot of experience shooting I was reminded that photography is really hard. Anyone who believes they can grab a camera and just start shooting and get great results is in for a bit of a surprise. Like any other skill such as learning how to fix a tall ship, something with which I have no experience, or studying a martial art, something with which I have lots of experience, photography takes a long time and a lot of practice to learn.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure I did the best job for the beginner level in the group. I tried to impart my knowledge but I fear I caused confusion as there is just so much to learn and I really hadn't planned a step by step guide to some of the basics. I answered all the questions I could but it was not as well organized as I would have liked. I think I need to take another tact with this part of the process. My next mentoring group will be different.
The more advanced shooters in the group blew me away. They hadn't spent much time photographing in the street and they were not shy about simply walking up to someone and taking their photograph or asking them if they could take their photograph. Many people didn't care and the people in my group got some wonderful photographs in this way. I'm still working through my shyness with street photography and continue to skulk in the shadows a bit. I hope I can learn from their lead and drop that wall between me and the subject.
Learning anything new is going to take time and practice. Don't be discouraged if you suck at first. We all suck at first. It's normal. We also all learn at different speeds. That is normal too. As long as you strive to improve each and every time you go out, you will get better. At least that's what I keep telling myself. My best photograph is always the one I haven't taken yet.