Your unique creative voice

by Sue Dawson

I JUST ASKED Alison, “What have I not said about the Mentorship, that might help people decide whether it’s a good fit for them?” She responded that we have so many past and present students who have unique, stunning images – why not show a few?

So here you go:

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LISA REDBURN did the Mentorship in 2014-2015, and the Advanced Mentorship the following year. Part of her initial submission to Alison, for her first 1:1 call, were images of puddles in Paris, a city that’s dear to her heart. As her work progressed, Lisa focused on her “Garden Afterparty” series, of flowers and vegetation that are “letting go.” And I just found these stunners on her site, which she calls “In the Garden: Seasonal stories from the garden, floating through time” (above). As Lisa’s work has progressed, you can see her working the same themes in different ways, with evocative images that still resonate with the insights she had during the Mentorship. Lisa has entered numerous juried shows, and often wins awards for her work.


DAVID MATTHEWS was in our first Mentorship group in 2013-2014, and did the Advanced Mentorship for several years after that. David came into the program with a high level of technical knowledge and proficiency, and a quirky creative sensibility that he continued to build through his time with us. My favorites are his series of salty, snowy asphalt that he showed in our gallery in 2015, a series of an airport tarmac, and a fantastic series of urban textural abstracts with the same basic composition (above). David’s compositions are technically brilliant. He’s had four solo shows, and four group shows, mostly in Pennsylvania galleries, and has sold a number of limited-edition prints.


JEAN SCHNELL, also in our first Mentorship and the Advanced group for a couple of years, developed a beautiful technique for shooting interior spaces that’s incredibly unique. I’ve written about her work before, including her series on Quaker Meetinghouses, and the old Marine Hospital that’s now the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven. Jean produced two gorgeous Blurb books as her Meetinghouse portfolio, within the Advanced Mentorship program. She’s had a number of gallery shows (she was the top seller at our Advanced Mentorship group show), and her work has been featured in Lenswork and Yankee Magazines. 


LUCY DAHL did the Mentorship two years ago, and is now in her second year of the Advanced program. Her self-portraits with the same black dress, in lots of different settings, are provocative, and tell a very personal story. All black & white, and done with available light and a self-timer, Lucy’s work is beautiful, raw, and deeply affecting. Lucy’s first group show was in our gallery this past May, where she was the top seller.

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BROOKE BARTLETTA did the Mentorship last year, and is in our Advanced program now. She’s fascinated by scenes that may be depressing at first glance, but are immensely powerful social commentaries – especially through her lens. Abandoned urban buildings, broken fences, and paint peeling off boats in local shipyards are favorite themes. Her latest winner, done in dense fog, is an evocative image of a high school running team, above. Brooke has just begun entering juried shows, and winning awards. She just launched her website last week.


STEVE KOPPEL, who took the first Mentorship 6 years ago, and did the Advanced program for several years, is now represented by the Focus Gallery in Chatham. He focuses on the tidal flats outside his home on the Cape and the National Seashore, shooting aerial images with a drone, or early morning seascapes with his camera on a tripod. His images are expansive, peaceful, and gorgeous. I wrote about Steve’s experience in the Mentorship here. He has two websites that began within the Mentorship programs, including one for his EDI Institute, where he donates proceeds from all of his print sales. 


KATE GRISWOLD was also in our first group, and a couple of Advanced years after that. Most of her work at the beginning was black & white images of animals taken during trips to Africa, and lovely studio portraits of animals, from dogs to horses. I think it was Kate’s second year with us, when Alison and I were in South Carolina – we visited her home there, and she took us on a tour of the area, pointing out the birds she saw along the way. Alison asked if she’d ever taken pictures of the birds, and she said no, but that they were spiritually significant to her. With Alison’s encouragement, Kate started taking photos of her birds, which has evolved into stunning portraits like the one above. Kate’s sold a number of limited-edition prints, and has had several gallery shows of her work.

I could go on and on. There are so many more talented photographers we’ve worked with, and we’re so proud of their accomplishments. 

If you feel a sense of excitement looking at this work, and feel that it’s time to develop your own unique creative photography, please consider our Mentorship program. Here’s what you’ll get:

  • FOCAL POINT TOOLKIT – Set goals, and track your progress through the Mentorship. This sets your intention for the six months, and creates the velocity for your experience.
  • SEVEN CALL HOURS with ALISON – These calls will be all about you and your work – developing your own unique creative style, staying consistent and keeping focused. You’ll send Alison jpegs of your latest work before each call. During the call, you’ll see her screen live on your computer, as you both discuss your photos, and she makes suggestions shown in Adobe Lightroom. Learn how to be your best editor, get custom training, feedback, motivation, and brainstorm ideas. Alison will give you customized assignments that will keep you inspired, and define your next steps toward your goals.
  • FOUR CALL HOURS with SUE – Get an Art Director/Gallery Owner’s eye on your body of work, and advice on your portfolio, graphic identity, website, book ideas, writing, and marketing. Sue’s signature Intuitive Interview will help you identify what makes your photography distinctly your own. Discovering what drives your creative work helps you write and talk about your unique motivation, and gives you a framework for your creative process as you pursue your work.
  • SEVEN TRAININGS – Our in-depth trainings cover a number of topics,which have included: getting in touch with your deepest creative self; writing an artist statement and bio; marketing your work; communicating with galleries, and having a show of your work; Alison’s digital workflow; publishing a book of your photography; and a fine art printing Q&A with a master printer.
  • TWO 2-DAY RETREATS on MARTHA’S VINEYARD – Experience the island off-season, when all the locals can relax and truly enjoy this unique place. Starting with a Friday-evening drinks and hors d’oeuvres get-together, and culminating in student Masterminds on Saturday and Sunday, you’ll meet other students, learn a lot, and have the unique opportunity to get feedback from the group. Develop your artist statement, body of work, and project ideas with the support of other artists. Alison often talks in-depth about her work, sometimes showing edits, images that didn’t make the cut (and why), and her creative process. Sue will bring her designer’s eye to the discussion.
  • YOUR OWN PASSWORD-PROTECTED PAGE – You’ll have your own page accessible via our website, where you can find all program info, upcoming appointments you’ve scheduled, your list of goals, downloadable notes from your calls with us, and a personalized to-do list for your reference.
  • PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP – This is a great opportunity for feedback and technical support, from all past and present Mentorship students. Post your photos and questions, and get feedback, answers, and encouragement on your progress. Sue and Alison monitor the group page regularly.
  • 20% OFF IN THE GALLERY – For the duration of the Mentorship, you’ll get our best discount on all fine art prints, books, posters, and cards.
  • YOUR WORK ON OUR WEBSITE – Take advantage of our international audience. After the Mentorship ends, we’ll post a photo of you, your artist statement, and a slideshow of your best work during our six months together, with a link to your website if you have one.

Here’s how much time is left, to sign up: 

Click here for more information on the Mentorship. We start this coming Monday evening, so I’m booking times for calls this week, to answer your questions about the program. Please email or call us at 508-693-4429, to set up a time. We do the Mentorship just once each year, so if you’re interested, now’s the time to jump in. As of this writing, there are 4 spots left. I have over 100 people on my “interested” list, with 10 of them seriously considering joining this year. 

2 Responses

  1. Joan Dubin says:

    My husband, Dr. Alan Dubin, had a one on one this past fall with Alison.
    He thoroughly enjoyed the encounter and found it incredibly helpful.
    Either he or I would be interested in this program.

    Joan Dubin

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