Photographer, naturalist and teacher Kathy Adams Clark will receive NANPA’s Mission Award at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show, February 21-23 in Las Vegas, NV. The NANPA Mission Award (formerly NANPA Recognition Award) goes to someone who epitomizes NANPA’s principles. The selection criteria include promoting nature photography, giving back to the photo community, raising public awareness of “nature’s beauty and wonders,” and both adhering to and promoting NANPAs values and mission statement.
Based in the Houston metropolitan area, Kathy has been a professional nature photographer since 1995. Her photos have appeared in hundreds of paces including magazines, books, calendars and in the weekly “Nature” column in the Houston Chronicle, written by her husband, Gary Clark.
She teaches photography classes, leads workshops, and volunteers as a public speaker, always bringing messages about nature into her presentations. She helped write the NANPA Mission Statement, previously served as NANPA’s president (2007-8), on the board of directors, and on both the awards as well as the summit committees. Recently we had a chance to ask her a few questions
NANPA Blog: What do you feel sets your nature photography apart from others?
Clark: I don’t know if my photography, per se, sets me apart from others. There are a lot of amazing photographers out there. My mission is to “bring people to nature through photography.” I want people to see that anyone can photograph a bird, butterfly, flower, or landscape. That then brings them into the bigger picture of nature photography. The idea that people who love and appreciate nature will protect nature is a guiding principle for me. If my photographs and teachings encourage someone to put up a bird feeder or move their yard toward more natural plants, then I’ve done my job.
NANPA Blog: Educating other photographers and the general public is central to what you do, professionally, and you take every opportunity to help people learn about not just photography, but also the nature that’s all around them. How did you started teaching and giving presentations?
Clark: My background is in corporate training and college teaching. When I started my business in 1992, I leaned on those skills to teach photography as part of my income flow. People in my photography classes got a dose of nature because I was a nature photographer. Students who were in class to learn how to photograph children didn’t seem to mind learning about the birds in their backyard or how to photograph a bird. I mixed nature in with all my teachings. I’m still doing this in all my classes, whether the topic of the program is night photography, crystal ball photography, or using filters. Everyone gets a bit of nature mixed with their photography. All this lets me share my passion for nature and nature photography with my students and the public.
Sometimes I’m out in the field, sweating and trying to get a shot of something. My internal dialogue seems to always swing to how I can share this experience with others in a future class or program. I’m a storyteller so each photo and experience seems to have a story.
NANPA Blog: You are doing a Super Session at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit on the workshop and photo tour part of our business. How has this aspect of photography changed since you started leading tours and workshops?
Clark: It’s changed, to be sure, but so many things remain the same. People go to a photo workshop to learn a topic or technique in a concentrated setting. People go on a tour to do the same things but also to get to a great destination without the bother of all the logistical planning. I think what’s really changed is the public’s disposable income. People have more money to travel and to spend on a workshop. A good economy is good for this business.
There’s a new entrant to the photo workshop/tour business every day, but people who want to succeed at this business need to know how to create a sustainable business. They also need to know how to create a business with repeat customers. I’ll share a lot of information gathered from many sources in the Super Session at the Summit.
NANPA Blog: How do you measure success? At the end of the day, what would indicate to you that your photography or your teaching was having the effects you want?
Clark: I measure success by how many people have been brought to nature and how many people have found success through photography. My husband has written the “Nature” column for the Houston Chronicle since 1999. The column is illustrated with my photos every week. Success for that column is people who write to let us know they learned the name of a bird in their backyard, or visited a park after reading the column, or put up a bird feeder. Success personally is seeing my photos used to illustrate articles about nature in Ranger Rick, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Birds & Blooms, or my other clients. Success is seeing someone decode their camera so they can embrace photography as a hobby or art form. Success is also introducing photographers to opportunities and other people so they can collaborate and succeed.
NANPA Blog: What originally brought you to NANPA and what keeps you involved?
Clark: My first NANPA event was the 1995 Summit in Ft. Myers, Florida. I was scared to death to attend that event. Corporate conventions had always been horrible events for me since I didn’t know small talk and networking. Yet I walked into the NANPA Summit and found my home. I made friends that weekend that I still associate with today. I saw things that needed to be changed so I volunteered for committees. I liked working on those committees to make the organization stronger but, selfishly, I liked the other committee members who might be a photo buyer, art director, or tour operator. It seems like most of my big breaks as a professional photographer have come thanks to someone I met through NANPA. Today, I’m giving that back to the next group coming up.
NANPA Blog: Any thoughts about receiving NANPA’s Mission Award?
Clark: The Mission Award is so special to me because it’s about work both inside and outside NANPA. The wording of the award talks about living NANPA’s mission and having an impact inside and outside the organization. I’ve taken a lot of pleasure in introducing people to each other during NANPA Summits. It’s been rewarding to bring speakers to the Summits that will educate and inspire. I’ve particularly enjoyed bringing emerging talent to the Summits.
Years ago, John Martin and I created the Regional Events as a way to bring local workshop leaders to a wider audience and give NANPA members an alternative to the Summit. Look how that program has grown! Think about how many nature photographers have met each other thanks to NANPA. It’s amazing.
Learn more about Kathy Adams Clark and her photography, workshops, tours and KAC Productions at her website: http://www.kathyadamsclark.com.