As many of you know, many of the authors and podcasters affiliated with Improve Photography are ‘homegrown.' I remember hearing on a podcast episode quite some time ago how both Erica and Nick met Jim Harmer at one of the Free Photography Workshops hosted by Improve Photography. Every good creative, be it a photographer, musician, painter… whatever, tend to share a nearly unquenchable thirst for learning and growth. As with so many other listeners and fans of the podcasts, I am an avid hobbyist. I guess I consider myself a “hobbyfessional.” I accept bookings for portrait sessions, weddings, events and I also sell the occasional landscape or fine art print. In reality, I'm not seeking to turn “full-time pro” with photography. I'm a teacher, and I love that work with an equal passion to photography. But, I do sell my work and my photography services, and I certainly want to provide customers with the absolute best quality work that I can. I also find the pursuit of a wonderful photograph incredibly rewarding in its own right. I think anyone who is reading this website, or listening to the IP podcasts can totally relate to that. So, here, in no particular order, are my top five reasons why you should consider participating in the Mentoring with Erica Kay offering.
Top Quality Constructive Criticism
When you start with the mentoring program, Erica has you submit a set of photos for her to evaluate with a portfolio review. This portfolio review comes to you in the form of basically a personalized podcast episode, recorded just for you. She goes through each image, and offers up incredibly powerful observations about what she sees. Regardless of the level of your current work, there is always great value in a professional analysis of your work. Erica's portfolio reviews are absolutely honest, but always done in a very kind way. She doesn't avoid pointing out the negatives, but there is a superb balance between the negatives and positives.
2. An Awesome New Community
Erica is not the only photographer offering advice and feedback! Along with information from Erica, you will also have a newfound group of extremely enthusiastic and capable colleagues that you will come to know extremely well. We are known as “The Mentoids.” We have a closed Facebook group where we can post our experimental shots, and anything we want to have viewed/critiqued. It is not uncommon to get five or six really thorough opinions on a piece of work, including Erica, but also the other Mentoids. We even had our own 30-day project that was started by one of the group. It's incredibly valuable not just to have Erica's expert opinions, but to get honest and supportive constructive criticism from a whole network of folks working to produce great digital images.
3. Monthly Challenges
At the beginning of each month, Erica will come out with a new challenge. This challenge sometimes builds on what we were working on the previous month, and sometimes it moves to a completely different topic/skill. Our challenges are extremely well thought out to help the group progress in important aspects of photography. There is a bit of a competitive element there, because you are putting up work and saying “This represents my growth as an artist.” Speaking personally, it's very motivating to know that the entire group will see these challenge photos, and look critically at what you view as “good.” It forces you to stretch yourself!
4. Improve Photography Plus
The mentoring plan also includes access to all of the resources on www.improvephotographyplus.com. There are SO many incredible videos and resources on that site! Videos that used to cost a lot of money on the website are now completely available for download to Improve Photography Plus members. This is CRAZY cool stuff, and it's ever-expanding. They didn't just throw the old expired information up there, they have an ongoing list of brand new releases. Have you always been curious how Nick Page does his Luminosity masking? He just released a brand new training video on how to do that. It's included! Focus stacking tutorial? Same thing! The flash courses, the post-processing courses… everything is there. And here's one that many folks will LOVE: the presets from all the various years Black Friday Lightroom Steal.
Seriously… just the training resources alone are worth the price of the mentoring program. The value for the dollar is awesome!
5. Business Growth
I have seen a dramatic increase in my bookings and inquiries since starting the mentorship with Erica! She doesn't just discuss the technical side of shooting photography. She is extremely willing to help you with your business ideas and projects. At the beginning of my mentoring, I was in the process of building out a new website. Erica gave such incredibly insightful ideas when it comes to designing the site! While we were chatting on the phone, talking about my site, she mentioned that she had hired someone to work with her to build her sight, just a short time before. She was freely sharing all of that incredible information to help me grow my business! She paid a lot to get expert information on SEO, marketing, designing a site that has a great concept behind it. She turned around and shared that information so willingly! I couldn't have imagined getting so much business information from a photography coach. Last night, we were discussing a shoot that I had just completed that is likely to be seen by some extremely influential business people. Before I deliver the images, Erica is willing to point out which images she feels are the strongest, and explain why. This is an invaluable resource!
Are there negatives?
No, in all honesty, there are not. The only challenging thing is on my end, trying to really devote the amount of time and effort I would like to spend each month on my projects and challenges. Over the past several weeks, real life events seriously got in the way of my photography. Last week I received an email from Erica, just checking in to see if I was alright, because she noticed I had sort of gone silent in the Facebook group. The truth was, I was dealing with a couple of life issues that severely slowed my creative endeavors. With all that Erica has going on; all the customers, all the work at her studio, her fiancé, her travel, recording podcasts, shooting weddings and weddings and weddings… In the midst of all that, she noticed that I wasn't getting much done, so she took the time to write to me, and check in. Now THAT is the sign of a good teacher.
I hope I have convinced you to check it out! The goal is for folks to basically try to make a 1-year commitment to the mentoring plan. There is no contract, so if life circumstances change, or you just can't continue, you may stop at any time. You wont want to, I am sure of that! But, with no contract to worry about, it's a no brainer to sign up and see what it's all about!