Have you recently graduated university and are perhaps feeling a little daunted by the next steps to launch your photography career? Look no further, Redeye’s Graduate Mentoring Scheme is back for another year running, to carefully pair graduates with relevant industry professionals based on their interests, supporting the leap from leaving university to working in the real world.
If you’re wondering what you might gain from this scheme - grab a cuppa, get comfy and read Holly Houlton’s experience of being mentored back in 2020, to find out how it helped her…
I’m a freelancer in photography, writing and marketing and have just been appointed as Redeye’s Communication Assistant but it was a very different story back in 2020 when I had just graduated from a BA (Hons) Photography course in the global pandemic. Finishing university can feel a bit like falling off a cliff with your eyes closed (at the best of times), but throw a lockdown into the mix with next to no art jobs available and you’re in a bit of a tough spot. So, when I saw this opportunity I couldn’t have applied faster.
In my experience, when completing the application form, it serves well to clearly identify your career goals (however small, big, detailed or not) as this is key for Redeye to accurately pair you with the most relevant mentor to help achieve your ambitions and for them to understand how you will benefit from the mentoring. In addition to this, if you have any personal projects you’re currently working on, it’s great to mention these as it can show your motivation, self-initiative and passion to pursue your aspirations in the photography world. Also, be sure to submit photos of your work that will be helpful toward your mentoring pairing, perhaps a project you’re most proud of, whether it’s down to its strong, well developed concept or the technical skill used.
When I heard I had been accepted onto the Mentoring Scheme, I felt as though I’d been thrown a lifeline - having shifted from receiving lecturer guidance every day to nothing and simultaneously navigating a tricky, competitive industry – I was over the moon to know I was going to have in-depth one-to-one sessions with an industry professional.
Redeye did a fantastic job of pairing me with Christiane Monarchi as my mentor, as founding editor of Photomonitor an online platform dedicated to photography and founding co-editor of Hapax Magazine which commissions photographic artists and curators to make new work exclusively for the printed publication, she was an ideal mentor for me. Alongside my photographic practice, I’ve always had a strong interest in writing on photography and the art gallery world. Christiane was able to offer consistently excellent advice and support including: relevant contacts to reach out to, constructive feedback on personal projects, both photographic and how to develop my photography writing platform I founded – Now Tell Me that gives freelance writers the freedom to write self-directed content about the visual arts.
After my first Zoom mentoring session with Christiane, I felt instantly relieved. I knew I had found not only a mentor, but a peer and a friend. I felt as though she had scooped me up from falling off that cliff after finishing university and gently placed me on a bridge to safely cross to the other side.
The mentoring sessions Redeye put in place allow for in-depth conversations about your next plans after graduating to kickstart your photography career, although it is (as most things are), what you make of it. I would recommend to everyone who is lucky enough to be a part of this scheme to throw themselves into it and make the most of talking to your mentor - ask questions (even the difficult ones!), ask for feedback, ask for contacts to reach out to; they’re there to help you excel so it’s only within your interests to rise to the occasion!
The entire process from start to finish was very well organised, I was always informed of deadlines, start dates, end dates, what to expect and the Redeye staff were always very responsive to answer any questions I had and checked in on us mentees of how we were finding the mentorship. In fact, you can check out not only my testimonial about the experience, but the other mentees of the scheme that year too, here in this blog post.
I truly cannot recommend this scheme enough, it’s one of the best things to have happened to me for my career so far – Christiane has given me endless support and advice long after the mentoring scheme ended and still to this very day. She has provided me with numerous contacts within the industry, job opportunities (including freelancing for her) and guidance on developing Now Tell Me and my other photography projects.
Christiane also has a few words to share with us about how she found being a mentor on the scheme: “I enjoyed being involved with Redeye as a mentor a few years ago, when I was paired with Holly Houlton, who had recently graduated. It was a pleasure getting to speak to Holly about her photographic ideas over the months, and I enjoyed working with her project idea for a self-directed online photography writing platform (Now Tell Me) which was a great and highly relevant outcome for this time during lockdown. Subsequently keeping in touch with Holly and her professional development, I have also enjoyed commissioning her contribution to my current publishing projects. I highly recommend the Redeye mentoring scheme as a great way to build lasting professional relationships.”
The deadline for this scheme is 11pm on 14th August 2023, apply now!