Testimonials: IPA Mentorship Program


Testimonials notes from mentees and alumni of the IPA Mentorship Program.
The IPA Mentorship Program is an intensive photography mentorship initiative by Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA) for those who wish to further their personal photographic vision and goals. 

“If you are reading this, it means you’re wondering if the IPA Mentorship Program is right for you. Having spent three months with Kevin and some very talented fellow mentees, I can assure you that no matter where you are in your career and no matter what you are looking for, the program can help you further your practice and bring you closer your goal. In my case, I joined the program with one proposal and happily finished it with another, totally different and definitely better long-term project. It is thanks to Kevin’s rigorous expectation, expertise and dedication as well as other mentees’ very constructive inputs that I were able to get here. Importantly, the support does not stop when you finish your mentorship as you will have access to IPA Workshop Network, a community of people constantly working and sharing ideas.”
NGUYEN MINH HOANG, Vietnam | Mentorship Program 2017 Alumni

“My biggest takeaway from the IPA Mentorship is that whilst Craft and Point are very important to visual storytelling, Rigour is key to the accomplishment of any work of art. The critiques and idea-sharing at the group sessions led by Kevin WY Lee truly exemplify, among other things, the need to never just settle with the comfortable, convenient and the expedient; rather, go out there and be what it is – rigorous in chasing worlds, pushing boundaries and finally, capturing many, many images to work with.”
COLIN SEOW, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2017 Alumni

“My initial intention of joining the mentorship program was to give myself a reason to photograph. It turned out that I have gained more than what I could have possibly imagined. Not only did I get to know more about myself, I am experiencing the passion again that pushed me to photography in the first place. Kevin’s detailed critiques have always been honest and professional, and have given me something to strive for in my next photo project. I really appreciate all that you’ve shared with us! Thank you Kevin and other participants for a WONDERFUL class. I have learned so much from you guys. You guys have been amazing! I am so going to miss our Google Hangout Session.”

PETER TEHMalaysia | Mentorship Program 2016/2014 Alumni

“I have learnt a lot from Kevin during this mentorship program. Kevin is a fantastic mentor – what Kevin does is he challenges and pushes you to the next level. Kevin gives a lot of inputs and ideas for improvements. During the program, I’ve come to see photography in a new perspective.”

CHEN HAO HAN, Malaysia | Mentorship Program 2016 Alumni 

“In 2014, I participated in the street photography workshop in Myanmar and was immediately hooked to do more. Subsequently, I signed up for the longer Mentorship Program. I have always been attracted to photography that is sensed as opposed to just “seen”. Kevin is the master of skilfully delivering guidance for photographers to find their own visual language and through the editing process, create compelling stories that will impress upon the viewer.”

SANJA JUGOVIC BURNS, Indonesia/Australia | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“The IPA Mentorship Program was the kickstart to my first photography project, and I am very grateful for the help and advice provided by both Kevin and other members of the group. They were very helpful in guiding my thought and work processes, and opened my eyes to the world of the photo essay. Kevin’s criticism is always constructive and in the end, encouraging.

Being a full-time student with a part-time internship and a couple of weekend jobs, when I first applied my greatest worry was for a lack of time, but the flexible nature of the program really lets you work within your own limits of time.

Starting as somewhat of a beginner in photography was also another worry, but Kevin really adjusts for each participant, and this mentorship was extremely valuable in developing the beginnings of one’s personal photographic vision. In sum, it was a very fulfilling experience. To Kevin and other participants, thank you for your mentorship and advice!”

XIAO YOU MOK, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“I received a grant to do the IPA Mentorship Program. It was a great opportunity to communicate with photographers from my group, but especially to learn from Kevin. He has a special approach to editing stories which was new for me. He constructed stories in a more poetic, emotional manner which is great! I was always taught a traditional journalistic approach, thus this new, fresh and more personal manner to work really helped open my mind and to look differently at things.

While I was doing the IPA program I worked on an ongoing project. I was shooting a lot but I was feeling a little bit lost on what else I needed to photograph. Kevin helped me understand that it’s not about photographs but about what I personally want to tell with this project. Why am I doing it? What I want people feel when they see it? What Cruising means for me personally? Trying to answer all these questions through photographs, searching for the emotional part of the story, trying to transmit feelings, senses, mood instead of just giving information was a priceless experience.

I am extremely grateful to Kevin for this new way to look at photography which I am now trying to apply since the IPA Program.”

KATIA REPINA, Russia/Spain | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“Working on personal photography projects can be very lonely, especially if you are like me, a photographer with no former formal art education. It can sometimes feel like you are working so hard for something which you have no one to share with, not to mention feeling lost and uncertain about your approach to a certain subject.

The IPA mentorship was immensely helpful in straightening up my thought process, offering an honest review to my ongoing project. Besides receiving critique, I would say the most valuable part of the experience is getting to know other photographers in Asia and beyond who are passionate about photography. The new ideas and different perspectives they brought in are eye-openingly inspiring. I would recommend any photographer with some solid work on their hands to take part in this mentorship programme..”

SHEUNG YIU, Hong Kong | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“The IPA Mentorship Program became the key that allowed me to start my very first photography project. As a novice, I lacked the experience to give my photography a clear direction. But the mentorship allowed me to be more self-reflective, critical, independent, and confident.

In the program, I looked for an honest advice and critique of my photography and Kevin was there to give a straight answer all the time. He recognized our strengths and pointed out the things that needed fixing. Outside the regular meetings, he would keep in touch and check on our progress constantly. I would say that Kevin was a generous mentor who was accommodating and willing to adjust to the needs of the participants.

I will always be grateful for the learning experience I got from IPA. For me, the photography horizon has just widened.”

DIANNE ROSARIO, Philippines | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“In the IPA Mentorship Program, I learnt all kinds of useful skills from how to do a photo essay, to how to create a picture that speaks to people. The skill to create a conversation with images is really a skill that is hard to grasp for me as a photographer. This mentorship is also very different as I get to interact with my mentorship mates who might be much older than me and much more experienced.

The dynamics of the ‘classroom’ really allows young photographers likes me to be much more exposed to learning even more from others in the mentorship and also maturing in the way I shoot. The critique sessions were really useful in propelling me forward in the way I see things. It also allowed me to witness the process of how other photographers shoot. Kevin is also very helpful and patient in teaching us ways to make our photos stronger. This mentorship is highly recommended for everyone who wants to learn how to shoot and create a photo essay but is not sure where to start. You can start with the mentorship.”

ANGEL CHEONG SU HUI, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“Someone said that art university is where you pay tuition fees to get your work shown and praised. The IPA Mentorship Program is the wrong place for you if you are thinking it’s the same. Kevin is considered a harsh mentor. He might make you wonder why photography is so hard because the comments he gives are very truthful and precise. That’s the part you learn and you will love photography even more after it all.”

CHEEJEN HO, Singapore/Malaysia | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“It was a great learning experience to be part of the IPA Mentorship Program in 2014. This was the first time I learnt to speak using images as a language. Everybody in the Mentorship was learning to speak a colourful dialect of his/her own rather than a unified language. We were discovering our own vocabularies in a series of meaningful dialogues among peers. Kevin is no doubt a great teacher at the IPA venue (more so with a cup of coffee outside!). His advice carries the very interesting tastes of sugar and pepper combined.

Rest assured that one will be greatly encouraged by a good dose of insight, reality and something called the “numbers game”. For many of us with day jobs, the IPA Mentorship is certainly a sanctuary we call home.”

TAH CHOE GOOI, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“Thanks a lot Kevin, for opening my mind to a new language of photography.

I learnt the importance of authorship, of owning my project by examining it from every possible angle.

I learnt the importance of focus in a photo essay, the single-minded pursuit of intent. And to also be prepared to deviate from initial intent as the accumulation of images starts to add up differently as one delves deeper into it.

I learnt to abandon favourite single images in place of less favourite images for better flow.

I gained much from the projects of fellow participants, their creative inputs, discussions and feedback. These group discussions was what I enjoyed most in the program.

I stepped in to learn more about my own photography and better understand photography of others. I walked out with much more.

Once again, thanks a lot Kevin! And thanks a lot to this great bunch of fellow participants, Anol, Benjamin, Donna, Eccleston, Kelvin, Mohit and Ronny.

Without sounding sentimental, i am going to miss this gathering.
The movie discussions were a bonus!.”

TENG KIAT, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“IPA’s Mentorship program was a great experience for me. It kept me on track with a long term project that I have since gone on to work on in several countries. Kevin was a huge help with editing and I still look back on my notes when I sequence projects now. Plus I loved having the peer support and different points of view. We were in three different countries and got to connect regularly, which was a great point of encouragement and accountability to keep working. Thanks!”

ANNA CLARE SPELMAN, United States | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“Kevin embodies the two ideal qualities I admire in a mentor – deep knowledge, and an ability to nimbly alternate between patience with student and zeal to push the student further.

Kevin’s knowledge of photography history and current trends is formidable – one has only to visit the various links in the IPA website to be astounded how exposed and connected Kevin is to the myriad on-goings in the photography world.

Kevin’s mentoring approach is tailored to
(i) type/nature of project,
(ii) level of experience of student, and
(iii) personality quirks/flaws of each student.

He alternates between egging the student towards progress and patiently taking stock of the student’s current roadblocks such as level of technical skills and limitations of photographic worldview. He has, at any one intake group, about ten students, and I observed how he adapted to the each student’s varying situation yet constantly encouraging frontier avenues to open up for each to explore.

Kevin’s classes are not about ISO, shutter speed and flash sync. They are about story crafting and image-making vision.

Students also learn from each other during the course of discussions. Kevin would invite comments from everyone, before offering his own observations.

I hope to re-enrol in Kevin’s class at some regular cycle (eg once a year), with the hope that before each new enrollment I have developed sufficient new raw material or insights to be freshly tested at each new cycle.”

RONNY SOH, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2015–2016 Alumni

“The IPA Mentorship Program was an unexpected journey. While I appreciated how the work from past participants had transformed through the Program compared to their previous work, I did not know in what way that transformation would happen to me, though this was exactly why I joined the Program.

I’m really very grateful for the guidance that Kevin has given me, the fact that he is able to see potential and possibilities from my trial and error, and the fact that he always pushed me to do things out of my comfort zone, out of the box, and out of my imagination. I’ve definitely achieved more than what I had expected.

It’s a very valuable experience from all the discussions and sharing with my fellow photographers. Of course it’s eye opening to witness how Kevin inspired each of us to explore and break through how we approach our projects, following our inclinations and convictions. So at the end, all of us have been transformed to be a better us.”

DONNA CHIU, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“I was looking to take my photography to a new level when I was introduced to Kevin by a good friend who is also a photography enthusiast. Up until the IPA Mentorship programme, I had never undertaken a long term photography project and knew that the 3 month programme would be a good way to develop my personal photographic vision.

I had seen the results of photography projects undertaken by earlier mentees and was impressed by what I saw. My fellow mentees hailed from 5 countries so the regular meetings we had were friendly yet cosmopolitan in nature.

At the outset of the programme, we were required to articulate our own photographic goals and each time we met, we had to offer up our images for feedback. Kevin would then critique and offer suggestions on how we can improve. Apart from receiving feedback on our own images, we also benefitted from hearing feedback on our fellow mentees’ images. I found Kevin’s feedback honest and constructive. Apart from the physical/online meetings, Kevin also kept in touch via social media to check on our progress and to encourage us along.

At the end of the project, I would say that the experience had exceeded my expectations and I am extremely satisfied with the final set of images that Kevin had help to curate and which I now intend to publish as a photo book as a memento of my experiences. Many thanks Kevin for your mentorship, and more importantly, your friendship.”

MARK ORTEGA, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“When I embarked on this program, to be perfectly honest, I had very little experience in street photography and many of my photographs were randomly taken. This is mostly due to the fact that I have a problem approaching strangers to take their photographs.

Through Kevin’s guidance in the program, I found it easier to approach strangers to take their photograph, as there were exercises in place to help us overcome this.

Besides that, while my initial project idea was to capture emotional aspects of a place, over the course of the program (hence the exercises to help me overcome that fear of photographing strangers), it took on a different direction. This is the beauty of this program. Kevin not just guides you along but encourages you to explore and push yourself, providing very useful guidance along the way.

Add to that, the diverse mix of workshop mates who all contributed one way or another to each other’s projects through the exchange of ideas, critics and just camaraderie, and you have a program that is tailored for anybody keen on exploring the art of photography in greater detail, not just the technical aspects of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, composition etc.

The program is intensive, it is tough but well worth the time spent. While the program may have concluded, it is just the beginning of a new direction in photography for me.”

GARETH PHUA, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“The IPA mentorship program has changed the way I live and see by including me in a conversation where my needs were carefully listened to.

This allowed both Kevin and my peers to openly suggest improvements I’ve needed all along but couldn’t see alone. They were both honest and encouraging because they were deeply invested in my progress as a photographer and as a person.

Their support during regular meetings and online response has been vital to keeping me on track over the past three months of continuous dialogue with the photographic process. I’ve observed real and lasting improvement to my vision and the communication of that vision and I encourage anyone who is interested in getting to know themselves better to enroll in this program.

Thank you for having me with you. I miss you all already.”

PHILIP HO, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“Thanks Kevin for the wonderful experience at the IPA Mentorship. As a fairly “ignorant” photographer, I have come away with a lot more than expected. Your genius in seeing beneath the beautiful is uncanny. You have opened my eyes as well as my mind to a whole new way of seeing and thinking about photography. Like a skilled ophthalmologist, you have given me new sight in more ways than one. You have guided me beyond singular pictures in a structured but yet, open manner. Generous in your feedback, you have been precise, encouraging and even nurturing towards all of us. Your sessions were wonderful and your ability to facilitate interaction among our course mates made the lessons special. Thank you once again for accepting me into the program and for teaching me that photography is more than just pretty pictures.”

KELVIN WEE, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2015 Alumni

“I feel extremely grateful to IPA for giving young photographers like me a chance to participate in their Mentorship Program through the Scholarship Grant. Although I already had a level of comfort in the way I shoot, it was still a mind-opening experience to hear different viewpoints on the progress of our respective projects, not only from Kevin, but also from co-participants. With this in mind, the program taught me to listen and be critical of the choices I make for my project. Although I had to get out of my comfort zone to explain my process and the intent of my photos to co-participants, I knew it was integral to the learning process.

Outside the web meetings, Kevin would also provide insights and options on how I can go about the project which helped me get out of my self-absorption and further develop my personal vision and language. The whole program was a great learning experience that any photographer, especially young photographers, Iooking to further their projects and vision should consider joining in.”

CHRISTINE CHUNG, Philippines | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

” IPA mentorship Program has provided me greater insight into photography in terms of content and editing a project. Kevin is very patient and approachable mentor. He provides honest feedbacks and always there to push us beyond our comfort zone. Got to know a mix of awesome classmates who were open in sharing their opinions and suggestions as well. Overall, a great program for someone looking at expending beyond their technical knowledge and skills.”

GLORIA WONG, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“Participating in the IPA Mentorship Program was an incredibly invaluable experience because it gave me an honest perspective of what my photography needed to progress. I especially appreciated Kevin’s acute critique of my work because it provided me an insight as to the kind of considerations I should always take with my pictures and when considering my work as a whole. The entire process, from conceptualization to the final edit, was a huge learning experience that I think anyone wishing to take their photography to the next level will benefit from. The program has definitely encouraged me to try more things and I highly recommend it for the confidence and focus it has given me to pursue more projects.”

FRUHLEIN CHRYS ECONAR, Philippines | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

More Info and Application Details for the IPA Mentorship Program: http://invisiblephotographer.asia/ipamentorship
Mentorship Projects by Peter Teh, Shyue Woon and Aik Beng Chia shown at BlowUp Projections at Angkor Photo Festival 2014 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Mentorship Projects by Peter Teh, Shyue Woon, Anna Spelman and Aik Beng Chia shown at BlowUp Projections at Angkor Photo Festival 2014 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Zeng Liwei at the exhibition of his Mentorship Project at the China-ASEAN Photography Festival in Nanning China.

Zeng Liwei at the exhibition of his Mentorship Project at the China-ASEAN Photography Festival in Nanning China.

“The mentorship program was a way for me to take a good look at my existing body of work so that I could fine tune it and then refine my direction. Kevin’s critique and feedback on my work helped me to understand the underlying trends in my photography and bring the interesting aspects to the front. He suggested different concepts related to what I’ve been shooting to get my brain thinking, and his guidance accelerated the “selection” process when I’m out shooting each week. All in all, the mentorship with Kevin has been great to help me focus my vision for my photography in future and I really recommend it to those who need a mentor to discuss what they’re already doing and how they can improve it going forward.”

THAM JING WEN, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“I am a workshop junkie. I attend workshops to escape the mundane work life and to sharpen my senses and photographic observations of my surroundings. The IPA mentorship I attended is a whole new way of learning. First of all, by stretching into a 3 months program, each of us was allowed time to experiment and to ‘marinate’ new ideas. Other than the monthly face-to-face group reviews, we can upload our latest developments into the “cloud” – for instant crit and peer review. Kevin, very hands-on and a brilliant teacher, always open to share his deep knowledge and observation. I have also learned a great deal from my peers who joined the program. They have become friends and critics of my work.

I attended the workshop with an open mind and it has taken my photography to the next level. Towards the end of the workshop, I felt more inspired and much more confident with my photography.”

SHYUE WOON, Malaysia | Mentorship Program 2014

“The mentorship program helped me a lot to look at things differently. Having a good mentor like Kevin and seeing how he helped the rest of the participants to improve was an inspiration to me. I learned so much, not only from my mentor, but also fellow participants.”

AIK BENG CHIA, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014

“I’m really glad to have been given a scholarship for IPA’s Mentorship Program. The opportunity helped me rethink how I want to more forward with my photography (from previously just taking pictures I liked, dumping them somewhere, and then moving on).

I realized, immediately after I got in, that I had a lot of growing up to do in photography. I learned how to plan ahead, curate better, and be consistently tougher on myself. I’m also glad to have met wonderful people who share the same passion. It was fascinating to watch their projects’ progress and see their own motivations and perspectives. On those three months, I left every session inspired and challenged even more.

I recommend this class to anyone who wants to keep learning about photography. Thank you so much IPA for a wonderful learning experience!”

NIKKA CORSINO, Philippines | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“Prior to the IPA mentorship, I did not have a project idea in mind and I have never been worked on photography projects before. Kevin didn’t give me a project himself but he guided and suggested what to look at (after seeing my portfolio) and try various approaches (possibilities) during the first month of the program. At first, it was really tough for me as I do not have any formal training. My only passion is to walk on streets and photograph people. My eyes only looked for and chased “street photography”. After a month working with Kevin, I slowed down my steps and paid more attention to things I wouldn’t normally “see”. I finally decided to photograph my hometown where i have been living for 33 years. Thanks to Kevin’s input and suggestion (and patience with me), I am finally doing something that means a lot to me which I took for granted for so many years. Kevin gave honest feedback all the time, I learn a lot from him. I got feedback from all the other participants as well.”

SCOTT CHUNG, Malaysia | Mentorship Program 2014

More Info and Application Details for the IPA Mentorship Program: http://invisiblephotographer.asia/ipamentorship
Mentorship Participants presenting their final projects at PLUG & PLAY Slideshow Night in Singapore.

Mentorship Participants presenting their final projects at PLUG & PLAY Slideshow Night in Singapore.

Anna Spelman presenting her Mentorship Project on the Jewish Diaspora in Asia.

Anna Spelman presenting her Mentorship Project on the Jewish Diaspora in Asia.

“I feel very privileged to the recipient of the grant sponsorship for the IPA Mentorship Program. The mentorship program has been very instrumental to my development as a photographer. I came to the program hoping to be able to have a better understanding of how to do projects in general.

The discussions that we had at the 4 meetings were really an eye opener for me. The discussions dug deeper than the technical aspect of photography and dwelled on the intentions of the photographer, their feelings and their voice. The feedback given by everyone helped to push me forward in the project and jolted me out of my comfort zone.

The weekly updates that we posted were always replied with ideas to consider or homework to work on. These helped boost the confidence for a few of us especially with the fear of approaching people to take their photos. Feedback on the project progress was always given after every submission.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process, I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to pursue long term or short term projects. Photographers who are searching for their photographic voice and anyone who has a deep passion for photography.”

ZENG LIWEI, Singapore | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“I love my camera. I take it with me everywhere, I am constantly taking pictures and I continuously look for ways to improve my photography. I eagerly looked forward to starting the IPA Mentorship with Kevin in May 2014. I sent in my first batch of images and was fascinated with the images shared by my classmates.

The classes  are interactive and each participant has an opportunity to share their vision and what they were hoping to convey with each image. Everything was going smoothly until I received my first assignment. After the first class I didn’t pick up my camera for two weeks!

I was shell shocked and feeling shaky. I questioned how Kevin was able to effortlessly zoom in on an area in my photography that needed to be strengthened. An area so well hidden, I didn’t even know it existed.

When I finally picked my camera up again, I found the intestinal fortitude to carry out my assignments. I struggled, I bargained, I photographed. After that, each meeting revealed new insights into my work and the work shared by others.

By the end of the class, I had learned so much. I had grown as a photographer. I was once again carrying my camera with me everyday and taking pictures. However now my images are stronger, more focused and tell stories with a keener insight.

I have already told Kevin to look for me next year. I plan to participate in another mentorship program so I can continue to hone my skills.

– ADERONKE BADEMOSI, Bermuda | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

“I was looking to push myself further… not on composition or lighting conditions nor technicalities but to nudge me forward to better understand my work, to critic my work and to produce better edits. Editing in my opinion is the key to any series of work.

My personal observation is that Kevin has been able to mentor and engage participants from various levels of photographic competency and journey to bring about a positive change in their personal work.”

JEFFREY LIAM, Malaysia | Mentorship Program 2014 Alumni

The IPA Mentorship Program is open for intakes every quarter. More information available here: http://invisiblephotographer.asia/ipamentorship/

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  1. Pingback: Call For Grant Applications: 10th Edition, IPA Mentorship Program | Invisible Ph t grapher Asia (IPA)

  2. When I embarked on this program, to be perfectly honest, I had very little experience in street photography and many of my photographs were randomly taken. This is mostly due to the fact that I have a problem approaching strangers to take their photographs.

    Through Kevin’s guidance in the program, I found it easier to approach strangers to take their photograph, as there were exercises in place to help us overcome this.

    Besides that, while my initial project idea was to capture emotional aspects of a place, over the course of the program (hence the exercises to help me overcome that fear of photographing strangers), it took on a different direction. This is the beauty of this program. Kevin not just guides you along but encourages you to explore and push yourself, providing very useful guidance along the way.

    Add to that, the diverse mix of workshop mates who all contributed one way or another to each other’s projects through the exchange of ideas, critics and just camaraderie, and you have a program that is tailored for anybody keen on exploring the art of photography in greater detail, not just the technical aspects of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, composition etc.

    The program is intensive, it is tough but well worth the time spent. While the program may have concluded, it is just the beginning of a new direction in photography for me.

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