Lessons Learned From the Mastin Labs Community

Lessons Learned From the Mastin Labs Community - Mastin Labs

Year’s end is a time for reflection. As we reflected over our personal and professional growth, we also reflected on the evolution of our Mastin Labs community with pride.

Over the past year, we have seen our community grow in leaps and bounds; we’ve seen new photographers rise up, hobby photographers take the reins and launch a new business, digital photographers shooting film for the first time, community members try new preset packs, and really take the time to learn how to use them.

We’ve answered questions from our community such as “What is pushed film?” and “How do you shoot Kelvin?” that represent our community’s constant drive for learning.

We’ve even taken a hard stance on controversial topics such as the use of watermarks, and the value of participating in styled shoots, to challenge perspectives and to foster constructive conversations and community elevation as a whole.

2017 was a groundbreaking year for us, so in the spirit of community, we asked you to share one lesson YOU learned this year.

We called for video submissions and received an influx of responses, so we created a highlight video of our favorites. Click the video below to learn from the community and comment in the comment section below to share your lessons learned.


Mastin Labs community member, Coltt Vance, shared this practice he uses to ward off burnout and foster growth. His thoughts are paraphrased below.

“Anytime I go into a live room and look at my prints, I stop myself every single time, and I look at the work. I’m acknowledging everything I did to get an image, and two things happen. #1. I learn to value myself more. #2. I learn where my mistakes are. By doing this, I learn quicker and more efficiently.”

– Coltt Vance.


Many community members shared personal lessons about staying true to themselves while pursuing their craft. Shelby Leek shared this:

“ Don’t lose yourself in the process of trying to find yourself, don’t lose your creativity and style in trying to mimic the rest of the industry. Have fun with your camera and educate yourself, rock the name you have built or are still building.”

– Shelby Leek

In the same vein, community member, Caitlin Ritchie, and Mastin Director of Marketing, Nikki Barron offer similar lessons about staying true to yourself. They share their lessons learned below:

“My biggest takeaway was to only work on the projects I wanna work on so that people will stop hiring me for things I don’t like!”

– Nikki Barron

“ Shoot what you love. Perfect it, make it your own. You don’t need to be a jack of all trades to have a successful business and income.”

– Caitlin Ritchie


Mastin Labs users Kellie Eleen Monibidor, and Jenn Dukes share short and sweet advice urging photographers to stay the course:

“Believe in yourself, believe in your business, invest in yourself, invest in your business and to hustle like a mother!”

– Jenn Dukes

“Don’t give up. Even when you feel like you’re just not good enough. If it draws you toward it, there’s a reason, so keep seeking.”

– Kellie Eleen Monibidor


Other members, like Katie Ives, recommend small, simple actions you can take to stay focused on your goals:

“Turn off push notifications on your phone. It robs you of your time. Every ding takes a minute out of a priority that you might have for your business or your personal life.”

– Katie Ives


Mastin Labs staff member, Chad Syme, highlights the value of building community in his lesson learned:

“Collaborate often, and trust in the skill set and knowledge of those you collaborate with.”

– Chad Syme


Kirk Mastin makes his own observation building community through real, old-fashioned, face-to-face interactions,

“The internet is great, but don’t forget that there are living human beings out there in the “peoplenet” and if you take the time to take someone to lunch that is in the same industry as you, you can make a friend for life, and you can really help your career. And that is a powerful thing that no amount of Instagram likes or Facebook likes or anything can match.

– Kirk Mastin

To those of you who submitted videos or shared your lessons learned through a comment, thank you for sharing! This community is special, and, as we reflect on this year, we are grateful for this incredible community of photographers. Your eagerness to learn from and teach one another, to foster positive conversations, and to offer encouragement when it’s needed, is what makes this group extraordinary.

We hope your next year is a year of growth, challenge, and personal victories for you and your business.