Thursday, August 07, 2014

About mentoring

My Dad was my first hero. For more than one reasons, but I am going to stop at the most important. I am who I am mostly because of my father. He gave me my first camera when I finished 1st grade. As a child, I used to spend hours in the Dark Room, watching him bringing to life photos of our family and friends.

Three Generations: My Grandfather, my Father and myself during my travelling times

As I grew up, my world has expanded and newfound heroes appeared. Real life ones, as well as the ones from my books.
My Grandfather. Jules Verne. Filip Brunea Fox and Iosif Berman. Ansel Adams. Henry Cartier Bresson. Paul Gauguin. Dorothea Lange. Henry Toulouse-Lautrec. Frida Kahlo.
Nowadays we hear very often the terms "mentor", "mentoring", "coaching" but I believe we sometimes downplay the importance of having a true mentor, a very special person to whom you feel extremely connected without having any family ties. During my student years I have met a very special person who has influenced not only my photographic formation, but my entire vision in life. As a part time newspaper journalist, I had the privilege of being in the same team with the very talented artist Robert Moser. His true call are fine arts - he does the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen. He is also a great photographer and he has thought me almost everything I know about film photography, especially black and white. But the best piece of advice he gave me was "never put all your eggs in the same basket. You are talented and if photography won't work for you, you'll always have other outlets to go to". I was too young then to truly understand the importance of his advice but I listened to him nevertheless. Under his careful guidance, my artistic tastes became more refined, more eclectic. He'd always have a magazine or two to show me. He'd always have a trick or two to teach me in the Dark Room. He was my most enthusiastic reader and he always encouraged me to write and write some more. And it was always about me, never about him. And let me tell you, he is one of the most talented, most educated and unbelievably modest persons I have ever met.
Robert Moser, a true artist, mentor and friend
When I started to travel, his words reasoned within me even more.
I learned a lot from my Captains & fellow officers and more from the deck hands & crew. Who knew how cool the celestial navigation really is? And I felt a pang of regret for not paying more attention to the trigonometry classes.  
Nowadays I am also learning from two little people. It is amazing to rediscover the world through the eyes of a 4yo or a 2yo. Simpler, lighter and wonderful, it makes up for the time lost circling around "big problems", impossible to solve.
It is really awesome when someone like Bjørn Rørslett or Gregory Colbert is getting involved and influences new generations but if that doesn't happen to you, don't fret. There is wisdom in everyone; if only we could slow down the pace and see it. And although it sounds a cliché; there is really a lot to learn just from being there "on the street" and being really open to everyone's point of view.

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