Finding a Mentor as a new Wildlife Cinematographer

Finding a mentor, as a new wildlife cinematographer will be priceless

A challenging career

Wildlife cinematography is a challenging but rewarding career. It requires passion, creativity, and technical skills. But how do you get started in such a competitive and demanding field? One of the best ways to learn the ropes and advance your career is to find a mentor. If you can find a mentor who can guide you, inspire you, and share their valuable insights and experiences, you’re on the way.

A mentor is someone who has more knowledge and experience than you in a specific area, and who is willing to offer you advice, feedback, and support. They can help you improve your skills, expand your network, find opportunities, and overcome challenges. A good mentor can also be a friend, a role model, and a source of inspiration.

Identify your goals

But how do you find a mentor as a wildlife cinematographer? Here are some tips to help you in your search:

  • Identify your goals and needs. Before you look for a mentor, you need to be clear about what you want to achieve and what kind of help you need. Do you want to learn a specific skill, such as editing, sound, or drone filming? Would you like feedback on your portfolio or demo reel? How about finding out more about the industry and the opportunities available? Do you want to get advice on how to balance your work and personal life? Having clear goals and specific needs will help you narrow down your search and find a suitable mentor.

Research potential mentors

  • Research potential mentors. Once you have a goal and a need, you can start looking for potential mentors who match your criteria. You can research online, by browsing websites, blogs, social media and podcasts. YouTube channels by wildlife filmmakers and production companies are useful too. You can also look for mentors offline, by attending events, workshops, festivals, and conferences related to wildlife filmmaking. Recommendations from your peers, teachers, colleagues, or friends who are in the same field or who know someone who is could be helpful too.

Approach preferred mentors

  • Reach out to your preferred mentors. After you have a list of potential mentors, you need to contact them and express your interest in being mentored by them. You’ll have to make a judgement about how to contact them. You should introduce yourself, explain your background, why you’ve contacted them, and why you chose them as a potential mentor. Always be polite, respectful, and professional, and avoid being too pushy or demanding. Be prepared for rejection, as not everyone will have the time, the interest, or the availability to be your mentor.

Build a relationship

  • Build a relationship with your mentor. If you are lucky enough to find a mentor who agrees to help you, you should make the most of the opportunity. Build a strong and lasting relationship with them. You should communicate regularly with your mentor, by email, phone, video call, or in person, depending on what works best for both of you. Definitely be respectful of your mentor’s time and schedule. Avoid contacting them too frequently or at inconvenient times. You should also be open to your mentor’s feedback, suggestions, and criticism, and be willing to learn from them and apply their advice. Show your appreciation and gratitude to your mentor by thanking them, acknowledging their help, and giving them credit when appropriate. Be positive: mentors are not agony aunts. They’ll have their own problems so they don’t yours dumped on them too.

IAWF – the International Association of Wildlife Filmmakers Mentorship Scheme

Personally, I’m quite busy communicating with a number of ambitious wildlife cinematographers. But as Vice Chair of the IAWF though I do have one suggestion that people looking for a member should consider. The IAWF is pleased to be able to offer a Mentorship Scheme up and coming wildlife cinematographers as an option when they join IAWF. Should such a person take up this offer the mentorship would come from one of our more established IAWF members and would comprise 4 x 1-hour sessions across the first year of membership. The aim is to pass on our experience, encouragement and knowledge, and give confidence to those starting out.

*IAWF is affiliated to the Guild of Television Camera Professionals


Finding a mentor as a wildlife cinematographer can be a rewarding and beneficial experience that can help you grow as a filmmaker and as a person. However, finding a mentor is not easy – it requires patience, persistence and initiative. You also need to be clear about your goals and needs, research potential mentors, reach out to them, and build a relationship with them. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of finding a mentor who can help you achieve your dreams and aspirations as a wildlife cinematographer.