Photographer Interviews

PDNs 30: Mentors, Teachers and Influencers

April 26, 2017

This year’s PDN’s 30 learned their craft from photographers and teachers, from editors and peers, and from looking at work they admire. The lessons they’ve learned are as diverse as the group itself, ranging from how to refine their styles, how to run a business and even how to be a better person.

Tasneem Alsultan: Ed Kashi, Maggie Steber

Xyza Bacani: Fred Ritchin, Bob Sacha, Elizabeth Kilroy, Susan Meiselas. “Susan inspires me a lot. She’s a wonderful human being, my photography hero. She stimulates my creativity through her wisdom and good heart.”

Ian Bates: Matt Eich, Steven Turville. “Trent Davis Bailey has been a mentor to me for the past couple of years, helping me get into the more fine-art side of photography and learning about different aspects of the practice.”

© Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s 1998 photograph “Väisälänsaari, Finland.” © Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Clare Benson: Arno Rafael Minkkinen. “I met him once, about five years ago, and we only exchanged a few words. Later I found something he had written about my work online, and this past year he nominated me for an award. It is incredibly encouraging to find that someone has been following your work, without you even realizing it, and to feel that level of support from someone you admire.”

Adam Birkan: Matt Eich. “He gave me a long talk on image sequencing, and articulating what I intended to convey.”

Nick Calcott: Dean Kaufman

© Bas Princen

Bas Princen’s “Ringroad (Houston),” 2005. © Bas Princen

Kai Craemmerer: Bas Princen. “His work revolves around the development of urban space. [His images] really reduced context in ways that provoke the viewer to understand what’s going on.”

Ronan Donovan: “I originally assisted Nick Nichols and he is now my mentor and somebody I can lean on for anything, and is a personal friend and has been a huge influence on my work.”

Salwan Georges: Ed Kashi, James Estrin. “They have guided me from the start to be a better storyteller every day.”

Christina Holmes: Assisted Koto Bolofo, Derek Henderson, Chloe Mallett, Jock Sturges, Bettina Lewin, Kenro Izu, Marcus Nilsson and Con Poulos. “While some relationships were closer than others, I learned so very much from each.”

Justin Kaneps: Jake Stangel “always had open arms to help out young photographers.” Mark Mahaney “took me under his wing…He pushed me to become a better photographer and person simultaneously.”

Yuyang Liu: Yue Ren, Susan Meiselas, Sim Chi Yin

Yael Martinez: Mary Ellen Mark, Joan Liftin, James Estrin

Peter Mather: Paul Nicklen. “The biggest thing I learned was the amount of time and the amount of work you have to put in to get those special photos. We sometimes put in 23-hour days. Once we drove 600 kilometers up a dirt road, and then 600 kilometers back at 3AM, so Paul could stand in a cold lake trying to get a photograph of the northern lights….I learned not to be frustrated when you put in that time and don’t get a shot.”

Jake Naughton: Natalie Keyssar, James Estrin, Diana Markosian. “From Diana I learned…the importance of stepping away from what everyone else is doing, and delivering what is true to my own personal vision. We are constantly sharing edits of each other’s work. She’s been a really big influence on my idea of what’s possible.”

Adriane Ohanesian: Santiago Lyon, Julia Steers

Anastasiia Sapon: Elena Zhukova. “I’ve been working with her since I graduated. She teaches me the business side of photography, I’m not sure where I would be without her help.”

© Jonpaul Douglass

An image by Jonpaul Douglass. © Jonpaul Douglass

Andy J. Scott: “My friend Jonpaul Douglass has been very supportive since I picked up a camera. In the early days he helped me understand technical things and gear, and in the past few years he has taught me more of the business side and how to deal with clients.”

Katya Rezvaya: Mary Gelman, Natalie Maximova, Vlad Sokhin, Vincent Tullo. Mikhail Domozhilov “was my first serious mentor who influenced my perception about photography and first serious insights about the profession.”

Related Articles:

What PDN’s 30 Has Taught Us About Photo Education, and Lifelong Learning

So You’ve Just Graduated with a Photography Degree. Now What?

PDN’s 30 Photographers on Building Support for their Work