There's a saying that behind every talented person is a talented teacher. If you think about it, it must be true, even if that "teacher" only taught life lessons. When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to have a professor who not only taught me photography skills, but who also encourage me as an artist.
I met Sky Bergman during my first year of photography classes at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She was one of my teachers, but unlike others, she was also a practicing (absolutely amazing!) photographer. She really knew how to cultivate our creativity and push us further. In her classes, I felt encouraged to try new things. Things I wouldn't have had the courage to do otherwise. Another thing I admired about her was that she always knew exactly what to say to motivate us to do our best. She could pull out the greatness in everybody and pushed us to find out what makes us special. And while all of these lessons were valuable, the greatest lesson of all came when I graduated.
Sky really wanted one of my prints. Because I admired her so much, I offered to give it to her for free, as a gift. She wouldn't accept it unless I let her pay for it. We squabbled over this until she finally accepted it, and much to my chagrin, mailed me a check for $250 (much more than I ever would have thought it was worth!). And while I was both upset that she had paid that much and grateful for the money, I realized her plan had been strategic. She showed me the value of my work, and let me know that it was ok to ask people to pay for it. That lesson about not underestimating my worth as an artist has stuck with me ever since.
Sky and I are now more friends than teacher/student, but thanks to her inspiration and invaluable lessons, she will always be on a pedestal in my eyes.