I want to start my second In-Depth blog post by saying that my first meeting did not go the way I expected. First of all, it was challenging to line up a meeting with my mentor (Sterling) because of how busy he is and conflicting schedules. I had tried to line up a meeting with him a week ago, but he didn’t see the message. I sent him another one on Tuesday to which he replied quickly, and I found out that email was the best way to reach him. We had planned to meet on Thursday, but something came up for him at the last minute and the same happened on Friday night. We ended up having our meeting Saturday after a few more schedule conflicts between the two of us. This is the tradeoff for having a mentor who is the best of the best in his field and it’s well worth it for the skills and experience that he has to offer. I also learned from this that I should try and line up the meeting well in advance with him, so we are already starting to come up with a date for our next meeting over a week from now.
My plan for the first meeting had been to spend ten or fifteen minutes getting to know my mentor and introducing myself to him then spend twenty minutes to half an hour learning how to take action photos with my cell phone then go practice and meet again in two weeks. Instead, we talked at the start of our meeting about what I wanted to get from this project, and we ended up deciding it was best to spend this meeting learning about him, how he turned photography into his career, what exactly he does and what his skills are. Our logic was that after learning a lot about him it would be easier to figure out how he could help me and what knowledge I could gain from him. We also talked about how we might be able to relate the project to leadership. On that note, he thought that if we looked at photography as a career that would relate to leadership because there is much more to it than just taking good photos.
From our meeting, I learned that the two of us are very similar. He grew up on the North Shore and was one of the first people to be mountain biking out here even before it was popular because of how much he loved it. He also spent the winter snowboarding the local mountains and Whistler. He loved to capture the moment of him and his friends riding or snowboarding so that he could look back at the memory later. At first, he played around taking videos of his friends but later realized that he preferred photography. He later took photography classes in school but most of his learning came from hands-on experience. For the next few years, he went to university and worked a full-time job with photography as a side hustle and passion. Finally, after mountain biking essentially blew up in Vancouver and all the bike companies started coming here, he was able to make being a “Professional Photographer” a full-time job. He was able to consistently get jobs with big bike brands such as Specialized, Trek, and Fox which all paid him very well. He said this was the turning point for him where he went from wanting to be a professional to jumping right into it even though he was worried. He said that it is a well-paying job and is his dream job, but it comes in waves of not being busy and being very busy. On top of that, it is also a freelance job so there is no one company that he works for. He takes the jobs that he can get and has companies that constantly reach out to him, but a marketing manager can always change which could end his relationship with the company. So his job isn’t just taking nice photos but also involves a lot of communication, forming relationships and adapting to changes constantly.
Learning about his story and how he became a photographer gave me a new perspective of how I wanted to do In-Depth this year. It made me realize that any of the photography skills can be learned from YouTube not to say it wouldn’t be easier to learn from my mentor but there’s more he can teach me which can’t be learned from Youtube. In the meetings, I want to try and keep learning technical skills to a minimum because we both agreed that the best way to learn was a hands-on experience but be guided by him. So, in every meeting look back at photos between the meetings and talk about what went well and what didn’t and what we can do to make them look better whether that is through photoshop, faster shutter speed, etc… Then for the rest of the time in the meetings, I would be learning about other important parts of his job such as identifying trends in the industry and adapting to them which is something that couldn’t be taught from Youtube. This way I can make the most out of the five months I have with him.
Finally, what I thought that I should do between now and our next meeting was to take as many photos as I can with my phone. After taking them, I will look at them, figure out what I like about the photos, what I don’t like, and what caused the photo to look like that for example, the subject was blurry, or the depth of field was too shallow. I would then identify what caused the rider to be blurry which would be the shutter speed being too long or why the depth of field was too shallow. My mentor agreed that this was a good idea and that we could look back at some of the ones I liked in our next meeting. The nice feature of the cell phone camera, especially newer ones is that they have a really strong automatic setting which makes them especially effective for this activity because there are no settings for you to change. I wasn’t able to get out for a ride yet due to weather and work so I have no photos to show but there will be plenty in time for the next blog post.