Choices and Goals
Everyday we make choices. What to eat. What to wear. What to do. Nature photographers make choices on new equipment, how to pay for it, where to use it, how to compose an image, which tweaks to make during post-processing; and for some, how to make a living. Everyone’s bucket list is unique, and we take different paths to reach them–whether you’re a big-time goal-setter with spreadsheets and planners or a seat-of-the-pants winger.
Passion, planning, and drive play big parts in whether (and when) we take those fall landscape photos in the Rockies or photograph wildlife on an African safari.
NANPA has goals and makes choices too. Our Board of Directors and contractors work together to develop strategic plans that map out where we’d like to be in 3-5 years. We review data from membership and meeting surveys, study membership and industry trends, pore over budgets, and brainstorm on how we envision NANPA’s future. Then it’s all mapped out by year by categories with steps to reach different goals by specific dates. Tasks are divvied up between contractors, committees, board members, and all who need to be involved on particular projects. Twice a year the board meets in person, as well as via monthly teleconference meetings, to review progress and make adjustments as needed. Committees meet throughout the year to collaborate on their projects or programs. Some teams, such as those related to summits and communications/marketing/membership meet weekly. Throughout the year, as Executive Director, I maintain task lists, monitor progress, and nudge people if needed to keep things moving forward. Sometimes we hit bumps and have to adjust deadlines or even abandon a project if all the pieces don’t come together or we don’t have enough resources or interest to move forward. But overall, the cogs keep moving and NANPA continues to grow.
Our annual Showcase competition is a prime example. It’s on our strategic plan each year with goals for improvement to increase participation and revenue to support the program. Many people work together throughout the year to make this competition work. The 2019 entry deadline just ended, and I’m happy to say that we exceeded all of this year’s goals. Our entry numbers are the best they’ve been since 2009. This means that the competition is stiffer for those who entered, but it also means that more people are aware of NANPA and interested in what we’re doing. And ultimately, we want to be an organization that nature photographers find value and benefit from being a part of.
All of NANPA’s programs and events came about because members told us what they wanted. We read all of your emails, study all the survey information that you fill out, and listen to your ideas and requests on the phone or at meetings. You told us that you wanted more opportunities to photograph together in small groups at prime photo locations at affordable fees, so we continue to add to our Regional Events lineup. We currently have 5 different events on the calendar for 2018-19. We’ve filled two snowcoaches for Yellowstone and have a wait list for a third. If you’re thinking about a Yellowstone snowcoach tour, you need to sign up now! As I write this, there are only two spots left on the Arches Astrophotography workshop and five on the Florida Birding and Bosque del Apache events.
You’ve told us that advocacy for photographers’ rights is important. NANPA’s Advocacy Committee works tirelessly with other organizations through the Visual Artists Coalition and Copyright Alliance with weekly meetings. Discussions are ongoing on what can be done to protect photographers’ rights. This week there has been significant activity in Washington DC, and NANPA will be represented in Congressional Hearings in the coming weeks and months.
I won’t list every single NANPA goal and program in this article, but my point is that NANPA listens. The Board and contractors actively plan, develop, and monitor our organization’s strategic plan because we care about NANPA and are passionate about its success.
In closing, I learned recently of the passing of Jerry Bowman. Jerry and his partner, Francine Butler, were the founding partners of the Resource Center for Associations, which was NANPA’s management company when we first started in 1994. Jerry and Francine believed in NANPA’s potential before we were even an organization. They helped us set up all of our corporate documents and developed our structure as a non-profit organization. Without their guidance and support (including financial when we had no money), there would be no NANPA. I worked with Jerry for many years when I was one of the first chairs of the Communications Committee and during my board terms. Besides being incredibly helpful and business savvy, he was a dear friend. For those who worked with Jerry in the early years, you know he was a master planner who never met a challenge he couldn’t handle. John Nuhn recently told me, “Jerry showed me that you can reduce mountains (crises) to molehills.”
In other words, Jerry and Francine helped our early leaders with their choices—which ultimately led to the NANPA we know and love today.
NANPA Executive Director