Mentorship is crucial to developing skill for capturing images that are beautiful or poignant, and maybe even both. Whether known well, or admired from afar, those with years of inspired photography experience offer support and encouragement, as well as teaching about light, equipment, and technique. 

photo by  Scott Friedman

David Skernick

As an 8 year-old with a serious camera in his hands for the first time, I was fortunate that my parents learned of David Skernick from a flyer posted at a local camera store.  He’s been a close friend, photography mentor, and sharer of laughter ever since.

David is founder and president of Photo24.  He leads small groups on well-scouted photography excursions throughout the United States.  David published “Lost on Gray Roads” in 2012, and is currently completing another book of his photography due for release in May, 2017.  He is an inspired witness to the ephemeral play of light upon landscape.

As part of his charitable work, David annually leads a small group of Photo24 photographers on a shoot in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s “California Winemasters” event.  This introduced me to the idea of using photography, and the emotion it can evoke, as a form of social advocacy.


photo by  Scott Friedman


As a freshly-minted scuba diver in 1999, I was enthralled by what I was getting to see and share with my dive buddies. I wanted to share the experience with family and friends at home as well. But it was hard to imagine managing both myself, and a camera, in the water at the same time.

I was again in need of mentorship. I’ve benefited substantially from a combination of discussions with other underwater photographers, reading books, and looking at inspired photographs (such as those of David Doubilet). Through my subscription to National Geographic, I also became exposed to the work of Brian Skerry. In a TED Talk he gave in 2010 titled The Ocean's Glory — and Horror, he speaks of his passion for “telling stories about all the amazing things that I was seeing underwater,” and how this amazement simply never ceases. Brian is also a strong voice for conservation efforts on local and global scales, using his talent for creating emotionally evocative underwater images to create awareness and positive change.

Brian has published “Ocean Soul” and several other inspired books on sea life and photography.  Go to Brian Skerry Photography to see more.