by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/12/2015
As the old saying goes, if you're not improving you're regressing. This is especially accurate in photography, where you simply have to keep getting better if you consider yourself a professional. And this is as true for Damian McGillicuddy as anyone else...
I thought I'd start this issue's article with a question: If you were going for root canal surgery, and just as you were chatting to the dentist you noticed his certificate on the wall, and you say to him, 'You must be really proud of that!' And he replies, 'Yes, it's amazing - it's been 27 years since I got that degree at university.' And then you say, 'Well, I bet you've had to do lots more learning since then?' And he comes back with, 'Nah, not really - I couldn't be bothered.' Would you still let him put his dental tools in your mouth?
I've noticed over the years that photographers are very reticent to talk about their continuous professional development. They don't like to mention that they're trying to get better or trying to educate themselves further - yet, in my observation, every other profession has to have continuous professional development. When I started in this industry, back in 1986, to be a professional photographer was quite an accomplishment; there was a lot of cache to it and it was a genuine profession. Nowadays, though, we seem to want to fudge our way through it.
I used to think that walking onto a stage and picking up an award was the highlight of my professional life. That was until I started to mentor people, which has given me the biggest kick in my career. And I'm very proud to say that our Mentor Me On Steroids programme is probably the biggest kept secret in the photographic industry; we've had the pleasure of helping develop 15 Photographers of the Year over the last 7 years (with more fellows, associates and licentiates than I can remember), with people on the business side turning over in excess of £3 million combined.
The photographers on Mentor Me On Steroids are investing in their own continuous professional development, whether they're running fulltime businesses or just a couple of days a week. And they're reaping the rewards of being true professional photographers, both in terms of the profession and the photography.
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