Beware of Popular Photography's Mentor Series
I recently completed the Montana/Yellowstone trek with Popular Photography's Mentor Series. It was something I was looking forward to for almost 9 months. As a hobbyist photographer who recently made the switch from film to digital photography, I thought this would be a great way to expand on my learning process. Also, I've been waiting to visit Montana & Yellowstone since I was a little girl. I did all this prep work - researching trails, things to see in Yellowstone, track weather movements and buy gear I didn't have. I thought I was going to have the experience of a lifetime - as photographer. It wasn't quite the experience I had hoped for. Six months before the trip, the staff & mentors were very helpful. Answering all my questions & easing any concerns I might have. Once I got there, it was a totally different experience. The trek had 40 participants, 3 mentors, 2 staff members and 1 local guide. It was very obvious from the beginning that 40 people were to much to handle for 6 leaders. On the last day in Yellowstone, my group's leader had so much trouble handling the group (a group of 17 adults) that we spent more time in the bus driving than we did shooting. Her poor management skills allowed us to miss many of the sights on the iternary. Things I had been very eager to see. And all the research I had done leading up to the trip was useless. There was no hiking, no exploring. I had heard similiar stories from other groups about missed locations. Also, someone once told me that if an event requires you to wear a name-tag, than the group is too big. That was definitely the case here. Also, I did not like the way the 2 staff members treated some of us. I am an adult - I know how late I can stay out or how far I can push my limits. I don't need a mother hen clucking at me. And didn't I sign a waiver? Another big complaint I had was that an MPix book came as part of the package deal. I misunderstand what the MPix book was. I thought I would got a coupon to create my own MPix book from my photos but its a book the Series creates from all the participants' photos. When I finally got it 2 months later, it was very disappointing. Just a black book w/ no title on the cover or spine. The layout was horrendous. No reason to how it was organized. Some pages had big black spots as if they were missing photos. I'm happy to say my page was decent but they still cropped & stretch the images so they look odd. My husband encouraged me to email the Mentor Series and say "Ok, I got the rough draft. Where's the final version?". Which is exactly what it was. And the sad thing is, a week after I returned from Montana, one of my other photography magazines listed the Top 20 Photography Treks/Groups. And the Mentor Series was not one of them. After researching all the groups on the list, I found better groups for about the same price I paid to go to Montana. Some of them even had the hotel accomdations as part of their pricing. Which is something the Mentor Series does not have. And many of the groups are small, intimate and more detailed. No name tags needed. (Actually, that's in one of the groups' description). Yes, I could be one person that had a bad experience. All I ask is that you do the research. There's a reason why Mentor Series didn't make that Top 20 list.
La Crescenta, California
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