Jill P. Mott
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Trust yourself. Don't set up roadblocks for yourself. Jill P. Mott , Photography Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
Many of my relatives have been in the creative arts—sculptors, interior designers, art quilters, musicians, you name it. I’m grateful to have inherited some of that talent. I don’t think there was ever a question about being involved in the arts. It really was just a matter of deciding which medium. When I found photography, I knew that was the one for me.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I primarily teach classes based in my area of specialty, editorial photography, I can share stories and experiences that relate to class assignments. I can point out potential obstacles and challenges when students present their ideas for shoots, and offer practical advice to steer them in the right direction. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my career, and I’m not shy about sharing them—many are worth a good laugh. I think students appreciate knowing their instructors learned things the hard way too.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring—and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
My favorite class is Editorial Photography. The practical, real-world assignments often lead to unexpected opportunities for students. After taking the class, many get published in print and digital magazines, get paid to shoot events for organizations, and receive photography internships. This class forces students out of their comfort zones to contact people they don’t know—community leaders, businesses owners, and artists. They surprise themselves with how they’re able to push through what they’d thought were tough obstacles.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Trust yourself. Don’t set up roadblocks for yourself.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Assuming how other people might think or feel can keep you from taking on the challenges that’ll help you become a better photographer and artist.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m driven by the need to share the stories that shape lives, the moments bursting with joy as well as those filled with despair.