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I am privileged to be mentoring a talented young lady who wants to be a professional photographer. I love her questions, her willingness and her energy!

She has a wonderful opportunity coming up to do an engagement session for a member of her family. This is a win win for both of them: she gets to learn and her cousin gets some engagement photos.

As her mentor, I wanted to guide her from the beginning of the session, which really begins way before the actual photography. I instructed her to do a clothing consultation with her couple, as well as to ask them for samples of photos that they liked.

The samples this couple sent her all had two common themes, or what I like to call “feeling tones.” All the photos exhibited joy and intimacy. I told my young protege that it was now her job to convey joy and intimacy in the photos she created for this couple. We talked about how to do that, and she admitted to being a bit anxious about being able to do this job properly.

And that is part of what makes a successful photographer: that anxiety at being able to do the job properly creates an edge. On one side of that edge is a block, where one simply backs off and doesn’t even try to break through it. This is what separates average photographers from great photographers. For the great photographers know what if it doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough, and they jump right into the opening that is on the other side of that edge of anxiety. They learn the technical skills necessary to be able to get good photos, no matter what, and then they are free to move into that wonderful opening that allows for the capturing of emotions. That combo pack of technical skill and feelings is what makes for great photos, and the anxiety before a shoot is what provides the edge to make it happen.

So she and I will work on the technical stuff, and I will go with her to the shoot and assist her, and I know she is going to step off that edge into a great session! As for me, I am reminded that it is said when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I think it works the other way around: when the teacher is ready, the student appears. And a great student she is!

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