New Year’s Resolutions for 2024

When I left the corporate world, Eileen and I decided to open our hearts wide and explore what it would look like to dream big. At the centre is our faith and it is from this place that our dreams originate. It’s been on our hearts for many years to create a space that we love and for others to delight in and feel restored. We would love to find (and are on the lookout for) a place that we could re-wild, allowing it to return to its natural state, introducing and attracting insects, reptiles, birds and other wildlife. A place where we could create beautiful walks through grasslands and forests, along streams and wetlands, with breath-taking vistas. Where guests would feel at home in comfortable, light and peaceful spaces, where bodies are rejuvenated by the natural surrounds and delicious, nourishing food. A place that ignites creativity, where we could teach photography and establish one-of-a-kind wildlife photographic opportunities. And a place that provides getaways for corporate teams who want to deepen their relationships, hone their strategic thinking and develop as leaders. The dream is forever expanding and may, in the end, look different to anything we could have imagined but we are trusting that we are on the right path.

With this as a backdrop and with Eileen having her own objectives for 2024, here are my big ones:

  1. To continue encouraging and building confidence in fellow photographers. I have loved facilitating my online mentorship programme and workshops and feel to continue doing so. My April/May programme has already been filled (which is very encouraging) and I am just about to open June/July. I also have three workshops planned for the year and am considering a few other options.
  2. To continue encouraging and inspiring confidence in local African guides and photographers. I truly believe that our local field guides can make the best photographic hosts and photographers and want to be part of facilitating opportunities in this regard. Last year I presented to two local guides at no cost with the hope that it would start laying the foundations for their future. The time spent is as much about teaching as it is about time listening to and coaching each individual. I am also looking to do my first commercial training programme for guides in Malawi in June/July this year and will hopefully be mentoring the founder of an organisation dedicated to helping local photographers in the hope that my teaching can benefit their students. I aim to find a sustainable model to continue doing this and hope to team up with photography brands in this regard. (Please shout if you know anyone who would be interested, as I am not in a rush and want to find the right partners).
  3. To do a couple of things that are new or outside my comfort zone. Currently, I have three somewhat “uncomfortable/new” things on the radar. The first is doing a key note speech at “Birdlife Australia’s “art in bird photography” conference in Adelaide in March. I have done a number of talks but this is the first time I am flying over 10 hours to do one. The second is starting a video show with a well known American bird photographer. (Very exciting!). And the third is investigating and possibly planning a photographic tour with some of my mentorship programme participants. I have been somewhat hesitant in this regard as I want to ensure my tours add the necessary value as well as making sure I find the right lodges/wilderness areas to partner with. A big part of the tours is training local talent to take over from me in time. Deep breath on all fronts!
  4. To continue using my photographic portfolios to market tourism in South Africa and Africa, especially at lodges/wilderness areas where there is a strong conservation focus and community development drive. Last year I had great success driving awareness for locations I genuinely believed offered incredible opportunities to local and international photographers. One example can be found at this link: Conservation & Unique Bird Photography in Southern Malawi

    I don’t ever promise the clients/locations that I will write anything positive about them, only that they can use my images and that I will post them and give the location where they were taken. That said, if I believe in the venue and what it offers, I often write a newsletter afterwards that shares my thoughts. Authenticity is key for me in this as that is why people go to the locations I recommend. I only have a set number of days for travel this year so please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to consider a portfolio for your lodge/wilderness area so I can plan my diary accordingly. This is my latest testimonial from a portfolio project:

    Richard did a write up of his experiences on our farm for his newsletter and posted pictures and information on Facebook and Instagram (where he has a huge following). The uptake of interest and subsequent bookings was immediate. We still continue to get bookings both from local and international guests who have a specific interest in birding. As a marketing tool this has been invaluable to our business.
    (Elsa | Tierkloof Mountain Cottages, South Africa.)

  5. To continue providing business coaching to CEOs and executive teams. I have loved how my coaching has been used to encourage and support business owners and teams, and will be using my latest programme focused on “how to build a winning sales organisation” to encourage challenging conversations about authentic leadership, effective strategic planning and the practical side of building winning sales cultures. I am kicking off a very exciting programme this year with Grow (Business Coaching) and we are looking to run a few workshops around the country.
  6. To further my art studies. I have learnt so much through my own self study of art, specifically composition and creativity. I am now looking to team up with an art teacher to tailor make a programme for me. I would ideally like to do it online/zoom. I have a few potential people in mind but am also open to suggestions, so please send them through.
  7. Most importantly to spend daily quiet time with God, listening and prioritising my day. Included in this is dedicating purpose-filled time to my wife and son. I want to role model what I believe in and who I say I am. It is not what we say that counts, rather it is our actions/behaviours that show our true convictions.

Seven objectives / goals sounds like an excellent number to stop on. I have a few more personal photographic projects and goals that feed into the above but these are the biggies.

My next newsletter focuses on a conservation project looking to safe guard one of the rarest birds in Africa and I can’t wait to share more of the story with you!

In the meantime, please get in touch.