It is my belief that one progresses in one's art by following someone farther ahead on the path that you have chosen. If one does not continue to follow an artist of greater skill than you, you will fade as a plant in the dryness of the desert.

Many years ago after following all the internet gurus I could find, I found myself no where. I was still taking the same photographs as before, and they all looked the same. There was nothing interesting to me about them and certainly nothing terribly artistic.

I then came across Alain Briot, who proposed the work of a photographer as the work of an artist. He stated that in art there is no competition, but yet only the striving for an expression of a personal style of the photographic art from that artist. It took me many years to accept myself as an artist, because for decades I had been a physician. That role is far from an artist, despite the term "the art of medicine."

It is also my belief that one must face the honest brutality of critique from the one who is your mentor. As I have watched my fellow students along the way, there appear to be two responses to someone honestly saying your work is crap.

1. You quit the path altogether and go back to producing art in a manner consistent with everyone else in the photography world. In essence you produce the same work as everyone else and do not differentiate yourself as an artist.

2. You take the critique painfully to heart as a reflection that you can do better. This is a much more painful experience that one must face. The psychological pain that is endured and faced and walked into allows one to see themselves and their work more clearly. This is indeed the harder path.

My experience bears out the fact that after years of following the art, instruction, and critique of one person, I spontaneously and unpredictably broke out onto a path of my own. Although not being trained in an art school, I wonder if this is a similar experience for many artists who take their work and path diligently.

It is most arrogant and ungrateful to forget about the journey and guidance of that one person's instruction. I read of many who do not acknowledge those who formed their art. Often we see the results of Michelangelo later in life, but do not know that it was Ghirlandaio, who initiated his training.

Be kind and respectful and acknowledge those who have mentored and influenced you, lest you become the arrogant fool.

If you have found the right instructor, they will rejoice in the uniqueness of your work. Short of that, you need to look elsewhere.

I have found mine.