Friday, 12 February 2016


"….a mentor's influence can help drive and motivate a photographer's learning process..."

Through a formal mentorship people have access to in-depth instruction, guidance, feedback, context, and unique opportunities to refine their craft on an ongoing basis. That means addressing all the main areas in the practice of photography that are relevant to someone's interests and goals. Equally, if not more, important is the shaping of artistic direction and vision. With focus and commitment a mentor's influence can help build momentum and motivation in a photographer's learning process

"…..where mentoring differs from classroom courses is in the ongoing dialogue that builds between the mentor and mentee….."

Where mentoring differs from classroom courses is in the ongoing dialogue that builds between the mentor and mentee. Our mentorship programs offer personal attention and support on a constant basis, whether it's through in-person meetings, phone calls, emails,or Skype. This results in an intense immersion in photography and the creative process. We can see dramatic gains in understanding as photographic talents are transformed into working abilities. An aspiring photographer chooses someone to be their mentor because they trust them and want to learn from them directly.

"….the focus is on your needs, the program's flexibility builds on individual learning styles "
During a consultation at the beginning of the program specific goals are clarified, agreed upon and understood. After that the photographic work/projects/assignments done are evaluated in order to measure progress. Attainable goals are set with action plans and deadlines…..they're important! We review the process to ensure that activities are relevant to the mentee's aspirations. A suitable timetable and schedule is set up.
Three, six and twelve month programs are available.

 Examples of Proposed Program Outcomes

  • To have a basic grasp of the scope of photography
  • Creating a personal style
  • Development of talents and gifts into abilities
  • To develop confidence in technical skills
  • Strengthened compositional skills
  • Strengthened ability to tell visual stories with one or a series of images
  • Increased ability to use the exposure controls of the camera
  • Expanded knowledge of basic on camera flash technique
  • Enhanced ability to recognize and use light in creative ways
  • Confidence in researching, purchasing, or renting appropriate equipment
  • Creation of a finished body of work/portfolio based on assignment driven shooting
  • Improvement of portrait technique and style

Examples of What a Mentorship Might Include
  • A pre-workshop consultation 
  • Development of a plan based on your vision for the intended direction
  • Unlimited access via phone, email, skype etc. 
  • One 3-hour personalized coaching session per agreed period. For example: every week, bi-weekly or every month 
  • Guidance in all areas of your photography 
  • Creative renewal and discovery 
  • Uncovering and shaping your artistic direction 
  • Review/critique of past bodies of work, looking for threads and themes 
  • Portfolio building or review, critique and analysis 
  • Guidance in setting up a blog or web site 
  • Preparing and editing an on-demand published book 
  • On-going review of your artistic development 
  • Custom photo assignments and exercises 
  • Image review and critique of assignments, based upon your personal goals 
  • Image editing and corrections using Lightroom and Photoshop etc. 
  • On-camera, off-camera flash 
  • Photo shoots done together 
  • Road trips
  • Review and analysis of tools used: camera system,computer, software, printer 
  • Technical advice and training 
  • Introduction to Black and White darkroom skills 
Usually, our starting point is to sit down together to create an outline for the mentoring program based on what we've learned together after a conversation about your aspirations and goals. The structure of the program is co-created. This means that before we start, we agree on the date and theme/topic of each three-hour session in order to make best use of our time together. As the creative process moves along the program usually evolves.The program can revolve around project based assignments done with my guidance, selected readings or in-person one to one instruction. This is all supported with unlimited phone, email contact. Of course the whole point is that there's ample flexibility to allow for each individual's learning style. 
For further information or an estimate please contact Michael O'Brien by email:


Testimonial for the Mentoring Program
by Paul McCormack

"I wanted some ongoing, constructive 
feedback, commentary, and guidance." 

"I met Michael after completing several photography courses. I understood the fundamentals quite well but realized that something was still missing in my quest to be a better photographerI wanted some ongoing, constructive feedback, commentary, and guidance for my work from someone I could trust. When I met Michael I immediately appreciated his passion for photography, and sensed he could help me fill out my learning experience.

"During an initial meeting the two of us sketched out a framework for the mentorship that suited both of us. Then Michael started giving me project-driven assignments to work on with his guidance. Our initial plan evolved as things moved along and I gained more clarity and momentum with my photography, until I was developing my own projects with confidence.

"This program is designed
to fit my schedule and interests…"

"Michaels command of the craft and technique of photography is matched by an intense inquiry into why we photograph what we photograph. This brought something very crucial into my journey as a photographer; namely, some direction, depth, and meaning. This program is designed to fit my schedule and interests: it motivates me to shoot when I really don't feel up to it or feel I don't have the time. I found it very helpful having the ability to contact Michael at anytime by phone, text, or email. His ongoing support has become a huge part of the journey, and its helping me advance and be more purposeful in my work. I come away from our ongoing dialogues with insights and the inspiration to keep exploring. cont...

'Motel Room'
From the ABANDONED series 
Photo courtesy of Paul McCormack
©Paul McCormack 

"It's really opened my eyes
 to the scope of the medium…."

"Working with Michael has helped me stay open and curious as to why photography is important to culture, to society, and to me. He's introduced me to the work of many great photographers previously unknown to me. Weve viewed dozens of exhibits, and I now appreciate the technical and aesthetic underpinnings of these works. It's really opened my eyes to the scope of the medium, to my own potential, and how to improve my own photography. 

"Now I have more definite ideas 
about whats possible…"

"It's also given me a broader context in which I can place my own work, so that now when I sit at my computer to fine tune and craft my images in post-production, I have more definite ideas about whats possible and about what I want. This saves me huge amounts of time, and since Im a busy professional, this is important. Michael openly shares his own working methods through demonstration in the field when we shoot together, and he guides me, through example, to develop my own workflow and style.

"In photography we look at the humanity that is around us, we interpret, we capture, and then we reflect. For me, it is Michaels powerful understanding of humanity and his ability to teach students how to capture such reflections through photography that make him such a great mentor.

"I have worked with Michael in his role as a mentor for the past 18 months. He is extremely generous with his time, his insight, his knowledge, and his love to coach, teach, and mentor. My mentoring relationship with Michael has been an invaluable experience and one that I look forward to continuing for years to come."

Paul McCormack