Assisting a young photographer at a high school photo workshop

Assisting a student photographer at a high school photo workshop.

A little over a week ago I participated as a mentor in a high school workshop for aspiring photographers. Somewhere around a hundred students from various schools in Southern Arizona came out to work alongside a small group of commercial and editorial photographers.

During the day they were able to learn about some of the intricacies related to fashion photography, portrait photography, food photography, photojournalism, studio photography and more.

This was probably my fourth year being involved in this annual workshop and each year I am amazed at once simple but overlooked thing.

The lack of inhibition.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki

Over the course of the day I was able to see these young photographers approach their photos in new and unconventional ways. The logic in me came up with protests such as “that is not great lighting, that angle won’t work, that pose isn’t flattering.” But all I said was “may I see the back of your camera?” to take a glance at what they had created.

What I saw was wide open creativity. There was no conventional wisdom telling these young photographers what would and would not work – so they tried it all. Whereas someone who has worked a long time in the field may never consider taking risks – these students saw nothing to lose in trying something. There was no fear in breaking convention and as a result – there were some truly inspiring images created.

In your work – how can you re-approach it with the mind of the beginner? Imagine what could be achieved without years of experience holding you back and preventing you from trying something new, something different, something that just might work if you give it a shot.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto