So you're interested in newborn photography mentoring? You've likely noticed that there are a lot of options out there for 1:1 mentoring, group workshops, videos, etc. I can imagine it must get overwhelming and confusing when researching mentors. But how do you choose?? A lot of photographers will pick based on price, but just because something is cheap, doesn't mean it's a good deal or a good choice. Let's take a look at how to pick a mentor, in no particular order:
1. Look for photographers whose work you admire and want your work to resemble. This is one of the most important points you should be considering because you'll be taught how to achieve that particular style of newborn photography.
2. What do you want to learn? Beanbag posing? Props? Parent posing? Wrapping? Editing? Transitioning? Lighting? My classes are beanbag posing focused. Beanbag posing and transitions are going to be the staple of your newborn sessions. Master this, and your sessions will be smoother, quicker, and more consistent and cohesive. And once you get into the routine of doing the same poses in the same order, you'll start developing a unique 'look' to your work that will be easily identifiable. This is what you want! My classes also include wrapping, prop posing, Mom & baby posing, styling, handling difficult babies and getting variety, where to place stuffing/posing pillows, strobe lighting and angles, camera angles, Photoshop editing and more!
3. Where are you willing to travel to? Obviously, this one is kind of a big deal. Traveling for a mentoring class or workshop can be be time consuming and costly, especially if your favorite photographers are on the other side of the country, or in another one.
4. What does the class include? Will you be able to shoot the poses for your own portfolio? Will you be provided lunch and drinks? A prop swag bag? Actions? Posing guide? Ongoing support when needed? My classes include all these extras. I also give a discount on my posing videos. We also take selfies. And photograph each other posing the babies. And drink coffee. Lots of coffee.
5. How is the class taught? Will you be handling and posing the babies yourself or just watching? What would you prefer? I have a Stand-In Baby for my classes so students can watch me, follow along and practice. I used to offer hands-on posing with the real babies during my classes but I found that is was not beneficial for a number of reasons:
-Following along with a Stand-In Baby means you can watch and do simultaneously. You won’t forget what to do because I’m posing another baby at the same time
-No two babies will be the same, just as no two sessions will be the same. Shadowing through two sessions will help to show how I handle sessions differently with 2 different babies. It’s easier for students to absorb information, take notes and ask questions when they are watching, as opposed to trying to remember what I did 2 hours ago when the real baby is fussing
-It’s much easier to find models if the parents know that only I will be handling babies
-Students get more images for their portfolio since I’m faster and more efficient with my posing flow
6. How many people will be in the class? Just you? or 5-10 other photographers? With a 1:1, you're getting guaranteed personal attention. With a workshop, you might not get any. My classes are only 1:1 because I want you to learn and improve.
7. Will the instructing photographer be using natural light or a strobe? My classes are posing-focused, so anyone can attend. But if you're used to one type of lighting and plan to stick with that, you might want to mentor with someone who does the same. This will be a great opportunity to learn about a lighting type you're inexperienced with, and you might end up preferring it! Keep in mind, if you're able to take your own photos in the class or workshop, the images might be different from your regular style. If you're just starting out and portfolio building, then it won't matter much. But if you're a bit more experienced and not wanting to completely start your portfolio from scratch, you might want to pick a class that will give you photos with lighting that looks a little closer to your own work for better consistency.
8. Can you afford it? If not, I suggest saving up for it, rather than settling for a class you're not 100% excited about. Mentoring, workshops and posing classes are an investment and most photographers only do it once. You don't want to regret your decision. I'm not sure about other teachers/mentors, but I give a discount if the class is paid in full at the time of booking (more than a month in advance). By booking in advance, you can also save on flights and accommodations. This is something to consider.
9. How long are you willing to wait to learn? And for your work to start improving? Most workshops are planned quite a bit in advance. This is helpful for planning, but then you have to wait. The sooner you can start learning and practicing, the smoother your sessions will go, the sooner your work will improve... My 1:1 classes can be scheduled for any month I have availability, as soon as one month after inquiring. No extra waiting required.
10. Read reviews. While other people's opinions can be very helpful while your researching, take them with a grain of salt. Remember, just because something did or did not work for someone else, doesn't mean your experience will be the same. We are all at different points in our photography journeys and we all require help in different areas. Photographers with different levels of experience and skill are going to learn different things in different ways.
I get so excited to share my knowledge and it means so much to me when photographers are interested in learning from me. I'm super particular about my posing and that's why a lot of my students choose to mentor with me. I'll teach you to get perfect poses and run your sessions seamlessly, starting with a flawless beanbag posing flow.
Check out my amazing prop vendors featured in these photos: