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Dee Callahan Art Blog

The Joy of Mentoring

by decal5 , November 30, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: Artwork, Congratulations, acceptance. learning…, artists, attitude, beauty, communication, creating, creative, decor, different, disappointments, discovery, favorites, flowers, goals, images, mentorship, mother nature, nature, networking, photographic, reality, sharing, successes

Today,I would like to write about the joys of mentoring a Photography student of mine. His name is Brandon Alcala, and he is a very talented individual who has taken to photography like a fish to water!

Now,not everybody sees things the same way,so the first thing that I try to do when I take on a mentorship is, I decide whether that individual has a commitment. In photography,as in many art forms and mediums, a lot is learned through trial and error, and at times it can get frustrating. Commitment is one key element to becoming a successful photographer. One must be willing to take chances; to look at ordinary objects from a different angle, and to try to combine color, light, and composition. I often give my students a photography assignment to see whether or not they understand how to reach their goals. Another thing that is important to any type artist is that they learn how to market their art, and that they take the initiative, rather than sitting back and waiting for someone to come to them. This too is part of the mentorship program that I have designed. After all Mentorship to me is kind of like watching someone "come of age" or watching a flower begin to bloom! It is a blessing to watch someone grow~ Each new project and each new day brings another surprise, and with it the pride that comes from a job well done. Mentorship can be very rewarding for both the Mentor and the student as well; especially if they can learn to work hand in hand and share their own ideas.

It helps if the student is particularly interested in something special that is coloful....Like say for example, Animals, or Flowers or something that is easily accessible to shoot. Animals and nature are two of my favorite subjects because they offer so much candidly, and yet can deliver such wonderful,inviting photographs.

It also helps if the student has a good attitude towards what he/she is creating. This is part of the learning and acceptance process for any good artist. There are far less disappointments when they see their finished artwork, and they can also take pride in knowing that they were a big part of why it came out the way that it did. It helps them to see that they can bring something ordinary to life with a picture. Communication is a big key to accomplishing this! What does the artist want to convey to his audience about the picture, and about him/or herself?~ What are the artist goals? Is the photo to be used for decor or will it bring a significant message with it? All of this is just a small part of the on-going discovery in mentoring~ Working hand in hand with a student will provide the answer.

I like to work with individuals who are younger than me. The reason for this is that I feel that they have much to learn. My age alone, plus the experience that I have helps me to point them in the right direction and give them tips on how to create something they can call their very own. It also helps for me to suggest that they develop a style or a recognizable format for their works. I feel at times like a parent, giving birth, as I watch a new student blossom and come into their own. It is nice to be able to pass on my knowledge to the next generation and see that it gets carried on;perhaps for them to become a mentor themselves one day.

The joys of mentorship are far too many for me to list here, but let it suffice to say that it warms my heart to be able to give something back to the art world...

Brandon Alcala's work can be seen right here at: He focuses mainly on animals and nature,along with wildlife. His pictures of "Animals at the Surprise Zoo" will be featured this coming Friday, Dec 2, 2011 at the Marley Park-West Valley Arts Council showroom and Art Gallery; where they will be promoting his works,along side of many other artists. There is a Holdiay Sale from Dec. 2, to 20, 2011.Congratulations Brandon, for a job well done! I am thrilled to be your mentor~



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