Staying Relevant

Photo of a male moose running. Even though we heard that campsites were hard to come by and the hotels were sold out, we headed to Grand Teton National Park to photograph moose. We drove all night, arrived at the campground at 4:30 a.m. and were rewarded with one of only 14 campsites that opened that morning. The effort paid off with lots of great moose photos, including this one of a running bull in fall colors. © Dawn Wilson
Even though we heard that campsites were hard to come by and the hotels were sold out, we headed to Grand Teton National Park to photograph moose. We drove all night, arrived at the campground at 4:30 a.m. and were rewarded with one of only 14 campsites that opened that morning. The effort paid off with lots of great moose photos, including this one of a running bull in fall colors. © Dawn Wilson

Story and Photos by Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

As most of you—hopefully—did as well, I read the latest NANPA handbooks, Bird Photography and Contest Secrets, this past month.

In Contest Secrets, Karen Schuenemann makes a valid point in her article “Getting from No to Yes.” Ms. Schuenemann said, “If you sit back and don’t put in the effort, you already have a NO. If you don’t try something that you dream about doing, you already have a NO. If you don’t attempt to do anything at all, you already have a NO.”

This is a twist on something I frequently say to people: “If you don’t ask for a yes, you already have a no.”

Others have also said similar phrases, such as Wayne Gretzky’s popular quote, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

Although Schuenemann is referring to entering photo contests and Gretzky refers to shooting hockey pucks, the phrase is so appropriate for so many things you want to do.

Photo of female moose and calf. On that same trip, I was photographing a cow moose and her calf in this beautiful early morning light. I backed up to lean on a tree behind me and almost immediately knew what that shooting pain was in my thigh; I had been stung by a wasp. I quickly moved away but the damage was done. I looked back at the tree and saw my error; I did not see the hive clinging to a branch strangely only two feet off of the ground. The power of 2020 struck again but I wasn't going to let this stop me from this wonderful opportunity. (Thankfully I am not allergic to wasp stings.) © Dawn Wilson
On that same trip, I was photographing a cow moose and her calf in this beautiful early morning light. I backed up to lean on a tree behind me and almost immediately knew what that shooting pain was in my thigh; I had been stung by a wasp. I quickly moved away but the damage was done. I looked back at the tree and saw my error; I did not see the hive clinging to a branch strangely only two feet off of the ground. The power of 2020 struck again but I wasn’t going to let this stop me from this wonderful opportunity. (Thankfully I am not allergic to wasp stings.) © Dawn Wilson

In this continuing strange and challenging world of 2020, we could sit back and wallow in the abundant “no’s” that have been presented to us. I’ll be honest; I have found myself there on occasion in recent months.

But there are still many opportunities to be had. Many have learned that spending time with their kids has become a renewed priority. Business owners, which many of our members are, have continued to adapt and find new opportunities to continue to grow their business, even in these challenging times. Many events and activities have switched to online occasions. Although Zoom isn’t as personal as being in-person, it certainly helps to keep us connected.

I want to encourage all of our members and other nature photographers to keep getting out there. Being in nature—whether that is just in your neighborhood or venturing to a new destination—has been proven to help stress. And photos of nature have also been reported to improve moods.

So please don’t wallow in the negative but continue to stay relevant and positive. Watch an episode of Friends or Golden Girls. You will find yourself laughing out loud even more than 25 and 35 years after the shows launched, respectively. Their relevance to common, everyday situations is what makes them relevant today.

 After falling off a log and twisting my knee (it is 2020 after all) to get to this viewpoint, I kept at it and soldiered on to capture this photo. © Dawn Wilson
After falling off a log and twisting my knee (it is 2020 after all) to get to this viewpoint, I kept at it and soldiered on to capture this photo. © Dawn Wilson

Find that relevance in your life and continue to stay there to find what is important rather than dwelling on the things you can’t control.

We at NANPA will continue to do the same for you by focusing on strengthening the nature photography community through education, inspiration, advocacy and conservation.

We will continue to publish new handbooks with relevant topics, release new episodes of The Nature Photographer Podcast (launching in October), announce the talents of our members with the winning Showcase photos, provide more Sip and Share virtual conversations, publish lots of fun and informative blog topics, add more educational webinars, and much more. We also continue to look into options for holding the 2021 Summit in Tucson, Arizona—whether that is in-person, virtual or a combination of the two.

Have ideas for any of these platforms, topics you want to learn about or events you would like NANPA to host? Reach out to us through our contact form

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” ~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Let’s stay positive. We are in this together.

Prize-winning photo by Karen Schuenemann plus a selection of pages from free handbook titled CONTEST SECRETS: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU ENTER A PHOTO