Bird & Wildlife PhotographyMentorship
Programme
This programme combines my 14 years of experience and insights with a
deep desire to see others grow and develop

Mentorship Programme / One-on-One / 8 Parts

The mentorship programme is made up of 8 exciting parts and 9 sessions (each session lasting between 60 and 120 minutes). The total time for the programme is approximately 14 hours of mentoring time with Richard. It takes place online on Zoom and will be a one-on-one mentoring/coaching type environment.

Each session will contain theory, application and discussion. They will also involve practical input from you, the photographer, in terms of questions to be answered or practical assignments to be carried out before each session.

Having taught photographers from all over the globe with different interests, backgrounds and skill; from artists, to landscape photographers, to safari guides, to conservation leaders, to fanatical birders, I have learnt so much about how different people learn as well as what works for some but not for others.

Hence, I have put together three different ways to work through my personal, online mentorship programme, which will hopefully meet you where you are on your unique photographic journey.

The 3 packages are as follows:

The Essentials
4 sessions
approx. 5 hours of mentorship

Good to Great
6 sessions
Approx. 8 hours of mentorship

Pushing the Boundaries
9 session
Approx. 14 hours of mentorship

Upcoming Programmes

January 2024 (Sold out)

April 2024 (Registration Open)

July 2024

October 2024

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more. I offer a free virtual coffee to ensure I am able to meet your unique and personal expectations and allow time to get to know each other before any commitments are made.

Course Summary

This mentorship programme combines my 14 years of experience and insights with a deep desire to see others grow and develop in their God-given talents. It is a programme that is as much about the mentee and his or her development as it is about the wonderful gem stones I have been fortunate to pick up along my own journey; from clueless happy snapper to international award winning photographer.

The programme is vastly different to an online course or youtube video, as it involves meaningful one-on-one discussions around the photographer’s purpose and what they hope to achieve through their work, practical homework to test concepts applied in each part of the programme as well as regular and constructive feedback on the photographer’s own images and approach. It won’t cover the basics of how to use your camera, or how to master flash or how to do complex post processing, as I truly believe these can be found far more cost effectively online or in books. Instead it will focus on what I would have loved to know when I started my own journey; what are the key considerations when facing different types of light, what are the key foundations for taking good images (and moving them to great), what I have learnt about composition and how this has built my confidence, what has made my post processing easy yet effective and what I believe are deep and helpful insights into creativity and pushing our boundaries as artists. It also aims to help attendees develop their own “eye for detail” and will share what I have learned about selecting images for competitions and print.

Why this course?

This course is for any aspiring bird or wildlife photographer who wants to learn from someone else’s experience, grow as an artist, delve into the deeper reasons for their art and push their creative boundaries. Although the examples used and application will focus on bird photography, the learnings and insights can be easily applied to all forms of wildlife and nature photography. Whether you are at the early stages of your journey or many years down the road, this course hopes to provide an awesome foundation from which you can develop and attain your own personal ambitions. Whether you hope to be an award winning or professional photographer or a photographic guide, or the producer of fine art prints or just to be better than you currently are, then this program could be for you. I just wish someone had offered it to me 13 years ago!

Do you want to move your photographs from good to great? Do you feel you don’t know what you don’t know? Do you want to move from a hobbyist to receiving international recognition for your work?

This course is what I would have wanted to know at the start of my photographic journey. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but as soon as I knew what I didn’t know I could then purposefully put the time in to improve and produce consistent results. I had never contemplated what makes a good image and how you move from good to great. Having this knowledge was a turning point in my journey as I moved from a hobbyist to a wildlife photographer receiving consistent international recognition year after year.

Why Richard Flack?

There are loads of courses/programmes and photographic mentors/trainers out there, so we thought it would be good to say why Richard is unique and why a coaching session or mentorship programme with him will be different to any others you may go on.

Richard is a proud husband to Eileen, and dad to his 8 year old son Joshua. He is a 6th generation South African who was taught about weapon handling, tracking and game management while he was in his teens and privileged to observe his father transform a barren sheep farm in the Karoo into a thriving game farm.

He has travelled extensively in Africa from remote places in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique to the more beaten paths in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Richard was fortunate to lead South Africa’s biggest independent payments company, which he left in 2021 to make time for his family and his other heartfelt passions. His business experience and deep understanding of leadership development, culture and customer service make him far more than a bird photography expert. His training as an executive coach and years of business mentorship bring a different dimension to time with him.

To Richard, bird photography is far more than just photographing birds. It is about celebrating creation, forming deep connections with the people who make his trips possible, conservation, rewilding and restoration, and creating images that tell stories and leave indelible memories.

Richard has photographed over 1000 species of African birds. His early beginnings as a birder have provided him with excellent identification skills as well as an in-depth understanding of bird behaviour.

Richard’s photography portfolio can be seen at www.theflacks.co.za/portfolio. From a strictly bird photography perspective, Richard has become well known for his creative approach to his art and is featured in a number of local and international webinars and podcasts. He has been recognized in the world’s top wildlife and bird photography competitions having recently received a bronze award in Bird Photographer of the Year 2022 and having his work displayed in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. He has also written articles for and provided portfolios to some of the top birding and wildlife magazines worldwide and has been commissioned to develop portfolios for lodges, train field guides and provide expert advice.

In 2022 he was also named one of the judges in South African Photographer of the Year alongside an esteemed judging panel. These accomplishments have positioned him as one of the leading bird photographers in Africa. All these different aspects make him a unique and multi-faceted wildlife photography mentor!

To watch some of Richard’s webinars: theflacks.co.za/media/webinars-podcasts-talks/

To read some of his articles: theflacks.co.za/media/articles-features/

To see some of his achievements as a photographer: theflacks.co.za/media/competition-judging/

"Richard designed my sessions entirely around my individual needs and through his excellent understanding, knowledge and coaching skills, he enabled me to find the right photography path to follow. I cannot do full justice to the difference he has made to my confidence and my photography. He's such a lovely person as well. I cannot thank him enough."London, United KingdomFIONA
"The mentoring program with Rich was fantastic. He gave me a completely new perspective on photography. Making pictures instead of taking pictures was a big game-changer for me. Today, I often observe more than I click. My photography has already improved significantly, even though I'm still processing a lot of information and just beginning to implement it. In addition to being very knowledgeable, Rich is a very warm-hearted, honest, and encouraging mentor. Thank you, Rich, for being as good a mentor as you are a bird photographer!"Wuppertal, GermanySABINE
“Overall, I had an excellent experience, learnt a great deal, and made a lifelong friend. Richard is a great person with a wonderful soul. He is very passionate about his subject, making each lesson unique and rewarding. I would recommend his course to any aspiring bird or wildlife photographer. You won’t be disappointed!”London, United KingdomJean-Paul
"Thank you Richard for your time with me. I appreciate you as my mentor! Having spent two photographic safaris with you, I can confidently say that your input, advice and mentoring equipped me to walk away with the trophy and the title of Safari Guide Of The Year – Best Photographic Experience. Your energy and passion for photography and life is contagious – anyone spending any amount of time with you can consider themselves lucky. My life, my areas of focus, and certain passions have been ignited and tuned far more clearer from the discussions we’ve had over the last few years. I look forward to our next Kruger Adventure and I am so keen on joining your next photography workshop in Balgowan!"Kruger, South AfricaWARREN
"I was looking for a different way to improve my photography so when I saw Richard's offer for a mentorship I was keen to apply. What a joy it has been! Richard's enthusiasm is contagious, his course material well researched, his feedback authentic and most of all his teaching style is inspirational. His approach to creating a beautiful image is very refreshing and very well explained; not only sharing the "hows" but also the "whys". Integrating the principles of art with photography has been an eye opener for me and has changed the way I see my images, in a positive way. It is not easy - a lot of ground is covered and it will take a lot of practice but it has given me many options to explore and grow. I'm only half-way through the program and already looking forward to the next half! Thank you Richard for sharing your love for photography with me!"Hoedspruit, South AfricaARDA
"Do this programme! It is a game changer and it will take your photographic perspectives, understanding and creativity to a different level. Richard is a phenomenal teacher and mentor! Worth it and highly recommended!"Swellendam, South AfricaMELISSA
"I can't tell you how happy I am that I decided to do the whole mentorship programme with Richard. I have learnt so much in such a short time. After only one session I was already looking at a different approach to how I took pictures and I feel like I have already improved tremendously. I cannot wait for each session. Not only are his sessions filled with valuable information, his passion for photography and his true interest in helping his students reach their full potential is so encouraging. I cannot wait to see what my portfolio will look like at the end of the mentorship. I truly cannot recommend this program enough. And to top it off he is also a super nice guy to sit and chat with."Texas, USAYVETTE
"I just completed Richard's mentorship programme and thoroughly enjoyed it. He presented everything in such a professional way and I so enjoyed his passion and reason for doing what he does. He taught me so much through not only sharing his skills, knowledge and practical experience but also bringing it to life in my own work. It was such a privilege to spend the last few weeks with him. I can highly recommend the programme. I just wish I had done it a few years earlier!"Johannesburg, South AfricaGIELIE
"Richard Flack has an unparalleled ability to create a learning environment that unlocks creativity, challenges the status quo of the photographic discipline, and allows for the reimagining of what is possible when capturing the natural world through your lens. His talent as a mentor, facilitator and teacher is matched by his awe-inspiring imagery, in-depth knowledge of composition and design, and his emotive storytelling behind each of the beautifully crafted images. In two hours, my own perspectives of what is possible in my personal photographic journey were reignited and my ideas behind how and why I take photographs were expanded to new horizons."Swellendam, South AfricaMELISSA
"Richard has a photographic talent that has been assiduously refined over many years in the field. Planning and passion, perseverance and patience are traits evident in any engagement with Richard. Be prepared for unequivocal enthusiasm for birds and a master class in how to artfully capture these challenging targets. It goes without saying that Richard will leave you feeling inspired!"Johannesburg, South AfricaSKYE
"I have just finished the first 4 parts of Richard's mentorship programme and thoroughly enjoyed it. I learnt a lot about composition and design and the importance of shifting my mind-set to be intentional in terms of the stories I want to tell. I really enjoyed the way Richard put the material across as well as his passion for the subject matter. I felt the course was tailored towards me and that he prepared specifically for each of our sessions."Kwazulu-Natal, South AfricaSTUART
"I have just started working with Richard through his mentorship programme, and all I can say is I've already found immense value in it! With Richard's expert guidance, in just two sessions I have a clearer outline of my 'why?' in photography, and a deeper understanding of what goes into making great bird photos. I'm now very excited to put what I'm learning into practice!"Natal Midlands, South AfricaSHAUN

The 8 Parts of the Mentorship Programme

Part 1

YOUR WHY AND OBJECTIVES

(Approx 1.5 to 2 hours)

This session is all about you and the purpose behind your photography. Knowing who you are as a photographer and why you are looking to develop your skills is not only helpful for the mentorship programme ahead, but also for your future growth and objectives.

This is my favourite session of the mentorship programme, as we use a coaching technique to explore your current style, what inspires you as a wildlife photographer and what are some of the reasons behind your photography pursuit.

We will also use this time to fine tune your short-term objectives for our time ahead. This is really important to me as, besides seeing you build your confidence and grow as a photographer, I want to ensure I also meet your other requirements.

Kori Bustard

Part 2

WHAT MAKES AN IMAGE GREAT?

(Approx 1.5 to 2 hours)

This sessions sets the scene for what makes great images and how photographers can achieve them in the field.

For a number of years on my own journey I felt I had hit a bit of a wall with my photography. I saw the images of other photographers and was in awe with what they were producing. Unfortunately I didn’t know how they were achieving their results consistently and I was battling to move forward.

This led me to research what makes great images and why certain photographers seem to have a knack of achieving them. It also led me to study the work of artists and what makes some more successful than others. I have literally analysed 1000s (if not tens of thousands of images and artworks) looking to understand if there were any themes, common techniques or secrets that I was missing out on.

This session shares with you my findings and gives you a number of practical case studies of how I have tried to implement them in my work. It was a real turning point for me and I hope it will be the same for you.

European Roller

Part 3

THE KEY FOUNDATIONS

(Approx 1.5 to 2 hours)

Being able to recognise where your image is on the continuum from ok to great requires both knowledge of the things to avoid and focus on, as well as developing a keen “eye for detail”. If you don’t know what you don’t know you cannot execute it in the field and once you know it you still have to spend many hours practicing so that it becomes second nature.

In this session I teach you what to pay attention to when looking through your viewfinder as well as afterwards in post processing. Knowing these key foundations and making it a habit to look out for them in the field made a huge difference to my photography.

It moved me from taking a few good images every now and then to achieving consistently good images every time I stepped out the door. These essentials ensure that there is a solid foundation in place before we move on to the more complex subject of composition and design. For every essential I provide clear examples as well as practical advice on how to achieve them in your work.

Part 4

COMPOSITION AND DESIGN

(Approx 3 to 4 hours)

Composition and design is one of my favourite subjects to teach. Knowing enough about the elements, principles and guidelines of composition has been a key part of building my confidence as an artist. It has allowed me to become my best self-critic as well as giving me the courage to step out from the normal and show what I love. Juliette Aristides says it well “Intuition and feeling without the knowledge and judgment of design principles are a liability in art” and this part ensures you can use your intuition and feelings with confidence.

Artists and graphic designers often go to university for a few years or undertake intense and practical courses to ensure they have the deep foundations necessary to become master artists or professional designers. Why should it be any different for photographers looking to improve their craft? As much as some would like to believe that photography is all about how you feel and intuition, I would argue that this is foolhardy and that to become a master at your photography, you need to do a deep dive into composition. Although there is lots of material for this online, much of it is surface level and taught through videos.

Instant gratification is not helpful when it comes to composition and a more personal approach that allows practice and feedback is far more likely to bear fruit in your work. Take the “The Rule of thirds” for example. It is a good guideline and just about every article that talks of composition will encourage you to use it, but unfortunately it is incredibly misleading if you don’t consider it within the context of the principles of composition and other more flexible guidelines.

This part 4 is a 2 session, deep dive into all I know about composition and design and ends with me taking you through an analytical framework that can be used to evaluate your own work going forward. My role as mentor is to leave you with the ability to confidently evaluate your own work and be in a position to show what you love.

Part 5

POST PROCESSING

(Approx 1.5 to 2 hours)

I prefer being out in the field and hence, have tried to eliminate as much time as possible when it comes to post processing. In this session we will look at my post processing workflow and how I edit images 95% of the time.

We will then look at some useful tips and tools I use to achieve creative images and ensure I present the best possible version of my photographs for fine art prints as well as submission to competitions. The session ends with a summary of my do’s and don’ts and how I evaluate photographs when part of a competition judging panel.

This session will not teach you the technical side of post processing as there are many helpful courses for lightroom and photoshop online. It will however share with you what I do and the most useful tools I use to do it. This in itself should help point you in the right direction as well as give you the necessary confidence that you know enough to move forward with presenting great images.

Part 6

THE WONDER OF CREATIVITY

(Approx 1.5 to 2 hours)

In this session we explore what is meant by creativity and how as photographers we can set the table for success as well as use camera settings, tools and presentation techniques to produce work that is new and valuable. The session provides a holistic view of creativity and provides practical, real life case studies to show how it can come alive in your own work. We explore the practical as well as the spiritual and look at how certain attitudes and ways of being can have a significant influence on how you reach your potential as an artist.

Whether it is interesting considerations for time in the field, using different perspectives and ways of presenting your work or how to make the most of your camera’s versatility, you should leave this session with a very solid foundation to work from.

In a world where technology and artificial intelligence is levelling the playing field, soon all that will be left is our ability to be creative.

Grey-crowned Cranes

Part 7

YOUR PORTFOLIO

(Approx 1 to 1.5 hours)

In this part we bring together everything we have learnt to build your best portfolio of images. The selection process itself is an awesome learning experience and I will walk with you as we select how best to compose and present your work.

Getting someone else to give you other options and things to consider is a wonderful way to grow as a photographer. I do it every year when selecting my top 20 images and have learnt so much from the input of others.

Crested Guineafowl

Part 8

YOUR NEXT STEPS

(Approx 1 to 1.5 hours)

Sadly, this is our last session together and we look back on what you have learnt, see how it has changed your thinking and where you feel you want to go next as an artist.

It is primarily a coaching session but will also be used to close any gaps you may have or double click on any of the topics we have covered where you feel you need more input.