From NANPA’s President: August 2020

Dawn Wilson photographing wildlife on the tundra of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
Dawn Wilson photographing wildlife on the tundra of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

By Dawn Wilson

Hi everyone. Thank you for taking a few minutes to read my first post as your president. It is an honor to serve in this role for NANPA for the next year and I am excited about the opportunities that lay before us.

Thank you to all of the outgoing Board members—Andrew Snyder, Don Carter and Gordon Illg—for their dedication to serving on the Board. Thank you to Tom Haxby for doing a tremendous job leading NANPA during the past year. And thank you to all of the past presidents and board members who have kept the NANPA goals alive and flourishing.

So a little about me.

I grew up in southern New Jersey where I explored the woods near my home. I was one of those kids who carried a camera to every family event; brought the camera on every bike ride I took into those nearby woods; and photographed friends doing silly things on summer afternoons. After frequently exploring beyond the boundaries of where I was allowed to ride my bike, I would take the rolls of film to the little Fotomat booth to develop the photos and then mount the prints into the pages of my photo albums. I still have those albums and take them out every once in a while to fondly look at the images and memories.

I worked on the high school yearbook staff where I developed my interest in print products and photography. After high school, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, studying journalism, mass media, public relations, and photography in hopes of heading into publishing or working at a public relations agency. My first job was at a medical publisher in Philadelphia. While working in Philadelphia, I completed my MBA degree in marketing at Temple University and a computer graphics certificate at the University of the Arts.

My career advanced and the more time I spent in the corporate marketing jobs, the more I felt I kept heading down the wrong path and farther away from the goals I had set for myself.

After I moved to Colorado in 2002, I found my true love of photographing and writing about the outdoors. That passion continued to grow to the point where I didn’t want to be working inside any longer. In 2013, I left my last corporate job and started my path to build my own photography and writing business.

It was about this time that I discovered NANPA, and I have been involved ever since.

I currently live in Estes Park, Colo. with my boyfriend, Richard, and my husky puppy, Kealy.

Dawn Wilson enjoying a snowshoe adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Dawn Wilson enjoying a snowshoe adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Have the courage to follow your dreams

Over the years, I have been accused by more than on person of being a dreamer. The first was Alexis, the market research director I worked for early in my career.

I was so offended when she said that to me so many years ago. I thought, “How dare she. She doesn’t know me.”

Turns out she knew me pretty well. I AM a dreamer. The difference is that I have the courage to pursue my dreams, and that is the hardest part about being a dreamer.

I haven’t achieved all of my dreams and I have many more goals to accomplish but I keep pursuing.

Nature photography is a great way to help pursue your dreams while also make a positive impact in the environment. My own dreams include stopping the destruction of brown bear habitat in Alaska, creating beautiful images of Colorado and Alaska landscapes and wildlife to brighten up people’s homes, and raising awareness about Colorado’s population growth and its impact on the state’s natural resources.

NANPA members also do great things through following their dreams with photography, like raising awareness about urban coyotes, protecting photo copyrights, stopping development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, teaching about ethics in nature photography, documenting every species of animal in zoos, photographing the life found in vernal pools, stopping pollution in Florida’s waterways, and much more.

Where can your photography and dreams take you?

Dawn Wilson in Kaktovic, Alaska photographing polar bears.
Dawn Wilson in Kaktovic, Alaska photographing polar bears.

The unexpected dreams

Being elected president was an unexpected dream. To be able to lead this organization full of talented photographers making their dreams a reality with environmental impact was unfathomable just a couple of years ago. And I am so flattered and honored to be given this opportunity by the members and the Board of Directors to continue NANPA’s mission and strengthen the organization. NANPA has led me to see new opportunities with photography, and I hope we can continue to do that for our members—now and in the future.

As I type this, I have a Hallmark movie playing in the background because what else do you occasionally do in the middle of a pandemic but escape to the unrealistic and sugary world of romance movies with perfect looking men (one Hallmark movie even has a nature photographer as the main character) set in quaint country towns. In the movie, I hear Dolly Parton say, “You gotta get out of the way of those making their dreams reality.”

So let’s make the dreams of NANPA a reality. Join me for a great year!