07th June 2013, Singapore – Kicking off the special series for the month of the June 2013, we will be featuring 4 photography groups weekly for this month. We are opening the series with MENTORGRAPHIANS, an “elusive photography group” – not that the group are secretive or anything, just that the group is not a public group and at most time, members joined by invitations only. Mentorgraphians members are made up of beginners who are just starting out in photography to well known full-time professional photographers. The group has an excellent mix of demographics that will create a great mentoring environment for all the members.
Founded by Andrew JK Tan, the group was recently formed in March 2013. Andrew is not new to this industry; he is a veteran photographer who has been shooting for more than 30 years while juggling between his full time job as a Business Development Director in the semiconductor industry. These days, he still takes up photography assignments on a freelance basis – but selectively.
So how did the group started? Andrew shared that readers from his dedicated photography page “Mentorgraphy” had requested to him that a group should be formed and to also create a platform where Andrew can personally mentor, coach and render help to members on anything regarding to photography. To start things off correctly, Andrew had set directives like having a group Vision & Mission to ensure that all members are in line with the group’s values.
– To be the resource that help transform every MENTORGRAPHIAN into an award winning photographer
– To provide trusted and proven photography advice to any MENTORGRAPHIAN in need of advice.
Working on the group with the Vision & Mission in mind, Andrew decided that this should be a closed group for a start – that is why photographers were invited to the group by invitation-only. In a real positive way, this means the group can be technically smaller and easier to manage. This also realistically allows Andrew to answer and critique every image submitted by members. Small is an understatement here as the MENTORGRAPHIANS is now a 160+ members strong photography group.
The group excels in various photography genres but there are also many very capable Landscape, Macro and Street photographers in this group, the group consists of members that are “experts” in almost every genre of photography and Andrew strongly promote and encourage the members to experience every genre of photography. He even started an initiative for his members recently to help them excel in their photography.
Called the “Weekly Mini-Challenge”, Andrew will decide on a photography theme and the members will be given 1 week to shoot & upload their images (there is no limit to the number of images to upload) according to the theme. To help the members out, Andrew will personally share a couple of photo examples on the selected theme to encourage the members especially the beginners. This is really an open invitation (and a cover) for members to try every genre of photography over time. Mentorgraphians are currently into their 10th Mini weekly challenge and the responses fantastic. The recently ended challenge #9 with the theme “Black & White” attracted more that 65 images submissions from the members. And the submission does not end there; Andrew will personally critique each image focusing on the various ways to improve the member’s image further!
When asked if the group had made a difference to the members, Andrew admitted that Mentorgraphians had served and still serving its purpose. Judging from the fantastic interaction he get from the many members that actively participate in providing commentary and critique, the high participation rate in the Mini Weekly Challenges (averaging at least 40+ entries per challenge) and the fact that the members are trying genres of photography which they do not normally do. This is more than just making a difference; this is more like impacting the members in a much greater way. Since the group started (March 2013), Andrew had personally commented and critiqued 300+ images uploaded by members! And in April, there was a Mentorgraphy Sharing Session held at Marina Bay City Gallery where 40+ Mentorgraphians members attended the 4 hours session!
We have dedicated a few interview questions specially for Andrew as below:
An Interview with Andrew JK Tan, Founder of Mentorgraphians
Ed: How does photography inspires you?
Andrew: Photography is a burning passion!!! I have been doing photography for more than 30 years now and in fact I have increased my involvement in photography by trying to “give back” as much knowledge as I can. By starting my dedicated Mentorgraphy page and the Mentorgraphians group is only just the beginning.
Seeing the progress from the photographers that I had mentored and coached through the group activities/events, my photography page and during many occasions when I am shooting together with the members does gives me thrills and satisfaction that I love. The fact that I can help and influence even in the smallest of ways makes all this work and sacrifice worthwhile!!
Ed: How does managing a photo group feels? Any ups & downs?
Andrew: Having went this far, I can only see the UPS!!!! …. I do have to admit that I was initially afraid that members would only sit back, be silent and not participate actively, but my fears was unfounded as the participation rate has been overwhelming and it is consistently increasing.
Ed: How frequently does the group meet up and is there other activity that had
been organized that is non-photography related? Like social events?
Andrew: Since the group was formed in March 2013, we have had 5 photography events and 1 major photography sharing session which I hosted at Marina Bay City Gallery. During the sharing session, I shared my Hokkaido wildlife images and related wildlife photography tips, in addition I had invited a special guest CS Ling, Nikon Singapore’s notable wildlife professional photographer who also came & shared her insights on being a wildlife photographer.
As for social events for the group, Mentorgraphians is still in it’s infancy stage, I am pretty sure we will have some social gatherings very soon.
Ed: In your view, what is the most important element in photography?
Andrew: In my view, there are TWO elements that are of equal importance, the first one is the PASSION for photography. Having the burning passion is vital in ensuring the persistence, the self-motivation to continually learn, practice and spread the wonders of this wonderful hobby. The second element which is of equal importance is CAPTURING THE LIGHT which is essential in creating a photograph……..without LIGHT & without PASSION (photographers) beautiful & meaningful photography would cease to exist.
Ed: In the diversified and sometimes complicated circle of photography, have you met good people as well as bad people?
Andrew: I have been involved in photography for over 30 years, I must have been very fortunate as I have only met good people. I have not met a single “bad” person in the circle of photography. However, I must admit that I had met many overly-competitive photographers who at times can be very protective and defensive. Then again, if a person is good at the craft, the quality of one’s images and the professionalism of a responsible photographer will still prevails and be recognized by all.
Ed: Please describe the relationship among you & your photography members in 01 sentence.
Andrew: We are ONE BIG CLOSELY KNITTED FAMILY that fully supports each other.
Ed: Is there any Allied photography group that your group associates with?
Any rival groups?
Andrew: So far Mentorgraphians is not associated to any other photography groups. I do not rule out any future association with other photography groups and I also do not view any other groups as rivals. At the most I will refer all other photography group as “friendly competition”. Every group needs some form of competition to continuously improve.
Ed: Is there a person/ group that inspires your group?
Andrew: I have to say NO to this question for now. Honestly I am glad that there isn’t one, I truly want my group to form our own identity and not be influenced too much by another person. I want to form and mold a group with members that are self-motivating, independent and yet willing to help a fellow member or for that matter, any other photographer freely.
The other aspect that I am really proud of this group so far is the absence of any discussions on the topics of photographic hard wares or the photographer’s individual merits. Mentorgraphians is just focused purely on photography.
Ed: What visions & dreams do you have for your photo group?
Andrew: I have mentioned this to my photography friends numerous times. There have been occasions where photographers have questioned my motivation for the selfless sharing; some believes that there could be some ulterior motives when in fact there is none. The following is my yardstick of a successful photographer: “The success of a photographer is NOT measured by how many awards that photographer has garnered, but by how many award-winning photographers he/she has mentored and coached” hence the Vision of this group (see above).
My ultimate dream for this group is for every Mentorgraphians to become a better Mentorgrapher than me and vigorously promote the continued growth of this wonderful hobby by “passing it on” and sharing his/her knowledge to others in need.
Ed: Thank you Andrew for the wonderful and insightful sharing!
Special Thanks to Andrew Tan & Mentorgraphians!
Mentorgraphians are a group of like-minded photographers and artists that have the patience & passion to share, learn, explore and have good fun as they explore the different genres of photography.
Mentorgraphians can be contacted as below:
Group Website: www.facebook.com/groups/mentorgraphians
Group Facebook: email@example.com
Group Contact Person: Andrew JK Tan
Group Contact Person Email: Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org