Young Photographers Alliance currently is accepting applications for the fourth annual Mentoring Program that will take place this summer in locations around the world. The mentoring program occurs over a ten-week period, during which young photographers, ages 18-29 or currently enrolled in a photography course, meet with mentors and other mentees to explore a specific theme.

“The program is a great opportunity for young photographers to create a body of work,” said Chrissy Reilly, a member of YPA’s advisory board. “It’s also a great opportunity for them to connect with professionals.” The program is setup not only to connect young photographers with professionals but also to assist them in starting up their careers by initiating their first professional project.”

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©Tessa Jeffers, 2012 Mentoring Program

The young photographers chosen are generally college students and graduates. Those interested in applying to be a mentee must first sign up as a YPA21 member, which costs $21, and then fill out an application. Each application must be accompanied with five to eight photos that represent a photographer’s work and a letter of recommendation, details of photographic experience, and an essay that explains how the theme will be approached.

While taking excellent and creative photos is helpful, the essay reveals just as much to the board. “In the essay, we look for honesty and clarity while talking about their work,” Reilly said. A good essay alone similarly does not override under developed photos. “If an applicant displays deep passion in their photos but didn’t have access to good equipment, we take that into account.”

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© Charley Murrell, 2012 Mentoring Program

Reilly said, in a way, the program picks up where photography courses left off and helps young photographers use the skills and techniques they learned to work on and finish a project. “When it comes to creating a body of work, they (young photographers before the program) can be all over the place. Mentors and other mentees are there to help keep participants on track conceptually and technically,” she said.

This year’s theme is Escape, which was selected by the YPA board. “We try to select a theme that’s both young and is a source of inspiration,” Reilly said. “Also, we like the theme to be broad, especially in terms of genre.” While participants have to stick to the theme, the style in which they do it is not restricted: Photojournalism, portraiture, landscape, fashion, photography, all styles are allowed.

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©Candace Doyal, 2012 Mentoring Program

Mentees will meet with their teams and mentors for six to eight two-hour sessions, during which they will choose a subject under the theme and also discuss and edit their work.  The subject, however, will be photographed individually, outside of the meetings. The final product to be delivered by the participants will include three photos accompanied by a short essay. Participant’s photos are later displayed online and at an exhibition in New York City, where photography professionals are invited. “The exhibit gives the mentees a chance to present themselves to professionals in the field … in hopes that they can get placement and connections in the industry.”

The deadline for applications is May 10, and the program starts June 1. For more information about YPA and the Mentoring Program, visit YPA’s website:

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©Brett Layne, 2012 Mentoring Program


©Teresa Meier, 2012 Mentoring Program

©Lucinda Grange, 2012 Mentoring Program

©Isabel Gonzales, 2012 Mentoring Program