I have no idea what Mr. Kelby was thinking when he chose me to be this week’s guest blogger. I am very humbled by this opportunity, and I must say that my name belongs nowhere near the long list of other guest bloggers, which includes some of the greats like Jay Maisel, Bill Fortney and Joe McNally. I’m always looking at the blogs of photographers whose work I admire, and trying to soak up as much information as I can.  And now I have the opportunity to speak from the same podium as they, but I don’t know what to  say!  I’m only 18 years old and still have a lot to learn when it comes to taking a picture, not to mention trying to figure out how to play this game called life. So I am going to simply share what I’ve learned so far, and how I’ve learned it…

I have been unbelievably fortunate when it comes to photography. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Staff Photographer for Golf Digest, Dom Furore, since the day I first picked up a camera. One of the first things I was taught was the importance of looking at the work of great photographers. “You can’t take a good picture until you know what one looks like,” he said.  More and more, I realize how new ideas are inspired, not invented. I find it funny when I see some article about a photographer who came up with a “new look” even though it looks exactly like something that’s been done a million years ago, and done better with a lot less equipment. Another thing that has helped me to grow as a photographer is studying different kinds of work. For me it is always important to put my own “twist” on inspired work and to give credit where credit is due, something that I learned from Jim Clark.

In 2009 I was able to attend the North American Nature Photography Association annual summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a high school scholarship student. I met a ton of very talented people and had the opportunity to learn from the best. Jim Clark met with our student group and he said two things that have always stuck with me, “Always give credit where credit is due” and “Don’t make yourself a legend in your own mind, let others make you a legend.”

Another tremendous source of progress for me has come from the opportunity to attend the Great American Photography Workshops and learn from legendary photographers like Bill Fortney, Rob Sheppard, Tom Bol, and George Theodore. Bill Fortney has become a mentor and friend, and his work has served as a tremendous source of inspiration for me.

It is amazing where life can take you when you have a camera in your hands. Last August I found myself assisting Dom Furore at the PGA Championship golf tournament. At the PGA I had the opportunity to meet some of the professionals whose work I admire. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet people like John Biever, Fred Vuich, Sam Greenwood, Simon Bruty, Matthew Harris, Scott Diussa, and Christian Iooss. Countless times I have taken my eye away from the viewfinder and realized what a blessing it is to be where I am. Having the opportunity to assist and learn from Red Wings Team Photographer, Dave Reginek, was one of these times. The more I get out, the more people I meet, and the more help I get. I am surprised by how helpful many of my “photographic heroes” are. One of the things I really like about the photography business it that it seems to be passed onto the beginners from the greats.

There are two more people I need to thank before I finish. First, I owe a great deal Bill Pekala at Nikon for providing me with some of the greatest cameras being made: Nikon. Finally, a big thank you to Scott Kelby for giving me this opportunity. I’m not sure what the next step is for me, but I enjoy every second spent behind the camera.

You can see more of Luke’s work at LukeKermode.com