Island photographer Alison Shaw and her partner Sue Dawson are opening their Oak Bluffs gallery three weeks early this year, with a show and sale of work by artists in the couple’s advanced photography mentorship program.

Through May 24, Ms. Shaw’s photographs have been replaced on the gallery walls by those of Brooke Bartletta, Lucy Dahl, Andrea Dawson, Beth Horstman and Rob Skinnon. All five have studied with Ms. Shaw and Ms. Dawson in the past, before enrolling in the 11-month advanced mentorship program to create this show.

Sue Dawson, Lucy Dahl, Andrea Dawson, Brooke Bartletta, Beth Horstman, Rob Skinnon and Alison Shaw. — Jeanna Shepard

“They have gotten us to a place we could never have gotten to on our own,” said Ms. Horstman, a Queenstown, Md. photographer whose images in black and white and color share a sense of stillness and serenity, whether the subject is farming or the natural landscape.

“They helped me see what I was already seeing,” said Brooke Bartletta, of Hingham and West Tisbury, who aims her lens at well-peopled Island scenes like the Agricultural Hall and Oak Bluffs cottages (in a series called Porch Life). She also has a pair of images of a beach cabaña, empty and serene on the shore of Cow Bay.

“Our goal for this is to help each person individually find their unique creative style, identify it and develop it,” Sue Dawson said Saturday, as the group took a break from hanging their photographs for the show. An opening reception was held on Sunday.

The advanced mentorships began about six years ago as an extension of the workshops Ms. Shaw has taught for more than 30 years, Ms. Dawson said. To qualify, photographers must have completed a six-month mentorship at least once. Most in the group have studied with them several times over the years.

“It’s a lot more fun in the advanced,” said Ms. Dahl, a seasonal Edgartown resident since childhood who winters in California.

Opening reception on Sunday was a lively affair. — Jeanna Shepard

“In the beginning, we were learning so much,” Ms. Dahl said, referring to the photo editing software Lightroom and other technical aspects of photography.

“A lot of it is technical, and I can get really rigid on that,” Ms. Shaw said. “You need the art and the craft together.”

“But once you’ve cracked it, it was like learning to fly, and now we’re flying,” said Ms. Dahl. In the show, her latest images in black and white and color discover otherwordly shapes and faces among the crashing waves and beach wrack of Big Sur.

Rob Skinnon, of Meriden, Conn., recalled his experiences in an intensive shooting workshop with Ms. Shaw on Cape Cod that included rising at 2:30 a.m. to capture both the night and the dawn.

“You’re all-in, every minute of the day. Every detail is looked at. It’s phenomenal,” Mr. Skinnon said. His photographs in the show are color celebrations of the Island landscape, including a full rainbow over Lucy Vincent Beach. There’s also a lively shot, titled Jaws Bridge, of jumpers at the rail.

Andrea Dawson, of Cleveland, Ohio is also a painter and the influence shows in her colorful, abstract photographs of grass and trees. She also has begun applying paint to her photos. This is her third advanced mentorship, she said, and she values the criticism as much as the praise.

Brooke Bartletta mirrors her image. — Jeanna Shepard

“You learn more from what they say doesn’t work—and if it doesn’t work, they’re very good at telling you why,” she said.

“I would call it constructive criticism in the best sense,” Ms. Bartletta said.

“You never want to shoot anyone down,” Ms. Shaw said. “I want to be honest, but kind.”

Ms. Dahl, Ms. Horstman and Ms. Bartletta all own homes on Martha’s Vineyard, but most of the photography mentorship takes place online with just two group retreats on the Island. For most of the year, Ms. Shaw and Sue Dawson meet one-on-one with their students using the web-conferencing platform Zoom, which they said is actually a more effective way to critique digital photography than sitting side by side.

While Ms. Shaw is the more well-known of the two teachers, Ms. Dawson—a former art director —has a keen eye of her own and expertise that complements Ms. Shaw’s. Participants generally refer to them in the plural.

“You really combine as a salt and pepper team,” Ms. Dahl told the two on Saturday.

“We come at it from different directions,” Ms. Dawson said. While Ms. Shaw works with the photographers on their creativity and using Lightroom to realize their visions, Ms. Dawson assists them in setting up their websites and writing their artist statements—a process that often leads them to discover more about themselves, she said.

Andrea Dawson's career as a painter influences her photographs. — Jeanna Shepard

“She’s the wind beneath the wings,” Ms. Dahl said.

This is only the third time the couple has taken all of Ms. Shaw’s work off the walls to host an advanced mentorship group show. The gallery is taking a lower commission on any sales, and the prices of the work reflect that advantage: matted prints start at as little as $75 and framed prints top out at a few hundred dollars.

“We really want them to experience the full process, including selling a few pieces, and introduce Islanders to work they haven’t seen,” Ms. Shaw said.

The group show, which includes portfolios from all the artists, is on display through May 24. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 88 Dukes County avenue in Oak Bluffs.