Why the old boys club was kinda cool

In recent years, with the rise of social media, traditional photography associations have seen a decline in membership. A large percentage of the emerging professional photographers don’t really understand the value and many people question the relevance of them.

You often hear many of them described as “an old boys club”. Now if you didn’t know, an “old boys club”, is a derogatory term. The thought being that many of these organizations are stuck in their ways and are slow to adapt and change. Fair enough. I’ll mostly agree here. (Although I am a fairly proud member of the Professional Photographers of Canada and the PPA)

But there’s one thing about the “old boys club” that people seem to have forgotten about. Even the “old-boys” themselves. It was the mentoring, the apprenticeships, the making of proteges.

When a young photographer came around to local meeting, they were welcomed with open arms. They would be scooped up under the wing of some successful pro and they would study their craft and the business until they were ready to go out on their own.

That rarely happens anymore.

Right now we have an entire generation of photographers who have been learning from each other on social media. Sure, as a result, their photos are really cool and inspiring….but they haven’t a clue how to make a proper living in the business.

melissa welsh photography mentors

Me and three of my unofficial photography mentors and friends – the incredibly talented: Tracey Harper, (Me), Anna Beaudry and Jillian Chateauneuf

The established generation got all grumpy about what was happening with digital files. They labeled “shoot n’burn” photographers as monsters and condemned anyone who was selling files. They continued along in their businesses, refusing to accept that times have changed.

So, that brings us up to about, now.

I was thinking it would be cool to bring that whole mentorship, apprenticeship, protege thing back into the industry. Imagine if all of those photographers out there who are struggling to make a living, could pair up with an experienced pro to show them the ropes. Help them with their product line, their sales strategy…whatever they need.

The cool thing now, is that the mentors don’t have to be in the same town. The mentees could potentially find someone in the same type of business, in the same size town to help them grow, develop or maintain a viable business. How awesome would that be?

Since we’re talking about it. Why don’t we just do it? Here, I’ll start…

If you’d like a mentor, send me an email with the subject line: I need a mentor

telling me:

Your name

Company name

Type of photography

Population of your area

If you’re a long-time established pro and think you’re ready to give back to the next generation, send me an email with the subject line: I want to be a mentor

telling me:

Your name,

Company name

Type of photography

Population of your area

How long you’ve been/were in business

I’ll start pairing everyone up, and we’ll see what happens.

Change has to start somewhere right?



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