From the President: Gordon Illg

© Cathy Illg

There was a time when every photo my wife, Cathy, and I took had a purpose. We had a market in mind every time we pushed the shutter button, and we pursued subjects not because we were wildly crazy about them, but because of how likely they were to sell. Elk were a natural, exciting target, and they were only 90 minutes from home, but even back then the market was saturated with elk photos, so we rarely pointed a lens at them. We went years without taking a landscape image, no matter how beautiful the scene was unless it had a person in it because people shots sold better than straight scenics did. Each trip was analyzed. Did the resulting photos pay for not only gas, mileage, and lodging, but also for our time and effort? Consequently, we were able to do most of our photography within two hours of home. It’s a lot easier for the photos to pay for a short trip.

In one respect the collapse of the stock photo industry did us a favor. It freed us to photograph any subject we liked, which was pretty much anything associated with nature. We could finally take pictures of elk and pretty landscapes to our heart’s content, just like most photographers do. Being able to plan trips based on where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see (and what we could afford) was an intoxicating feeling. There was always a new subject or new destination, and it was no big deal if the images we came home with never sold. We still make a half-hearted attempt to sell photos to publications, but there are times when we miss having a definite purpose for all the images we take. Perhaps some of you are in this same boat. There’s nothing wrong with taking photos just for the sake of taking pictures. In fact, we endorse this activity, but maybe you want your photos to do more than take up space on a hard drive. That’s where NANPA comes in.

NANPA provides a variety of outlets for those who feel the need to do something with their photos. If your images illustrate a story, regardless of whether it revolves around a species, a destination, a concept or necessary photographic information, the NANPA Blog is waiting for your submission. If you’re looking for recognition of your exceptional photos, the NANPA Showcase is the perfect venue, with far more reach than camera club competitions. What’s more, we publish the top 250 pictures in Expressions and give 3,000 copies to NANPA members and photo buyers. By the way, the Showcase opened for submissions on August 1, and we know that nearly all of you have images worthy of entering. We can’t wait to express our amazement at the timeless moments you were skilled and lucky enough to capture.

We realize a photographer doesn’t need to be a NANPA member to post a blog, and there are other photo contests a person can enter without belonging to a photography group. NANPA however, offers another option for your images, and that is using them in the fight to protect the subjects we enjoy photographing. Not only does the organization provide the Phillip Hyde Grant for a photography intensive conservation project each year, but the NANPA website has an extensive list of conservation projects on its Citizen Science page that nearly anyone can participate in, and it isn’t necessary to travel to the far ends of the Earth to contribute to these projects. Many of them require no more time than you can afford to give, and you can complete them in your neighborhood.  Because the local projects impact and inform more people, they are often more useful than the more distant expeditions. The Conservation Committee is also on the verge of releasing a Conservation Handbook, showing how, why and where NANPA members can become more involved.

There’s a reason we say that NANPA is the voice of nature photographers on this continent. No other organization offers the wide range of services and activities for nature photographers that NANPA does. And it is because of all of you that NANPA can be that voice. Thank you.