I've been mentoring a lot lately. It's something that I love to do for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, photography can be a lonely occupation with large periods of time sitting at home planning, editing, invoicing, blogging, etc...and it is nice to chat with someone else who is passionate about something that you are passionate about.
Secondly, I truly enjoy watching people succeed after I help them. I have even seen some of the people I mentor go on and do amazing things. Like win awards and stuff. Secretly, it feels a bit like I've won, too. I guess that's what being a teacher is all about and I have to admit that I like that.
Thirdly...and by no means lastly...I learn a lot. Chatting with photographers who are earlier on in their journey than you is an interesting thing. You remember when you were there. It inspires you(well, me at least) to look back at your work and to see what inspired me to start this journey in the first place. And, THAT is a good thing. It has helped move me past the worry of where the industry is headed...the bitterness that so many feel over the changes that are happening and embrace the changes. To see that the changes are inevitable and that change is a GOOD thing.
More people loving and valuing photography can never NEVER be a bad thing for our industry. It has just become more difficult to find our own place in this sea of loving. For me, I have found that it lies squarely in being yourself and embracing your imperfections ;) But the thing is...if you are looking for your own place...yours is in a different spot than mine. No two people can occupy the same place. It's not so easy to find now, but ... if you can't find it....I would argue that you aren't looking hard enough :)
It also pushes me to get better. It helps me see that I should embrace more of what I teach. Truly...because saying something and doing it are two totally different things. Watching them improve so quickly--for some of them it is a daily thing(truly)--reminds me that the more photographs you take the better you will get. Period.
Don't hate the people in the beginning of their journey. Remember you were there once...