Based on their reputations alone I knew the keynote speakers at last month’s Summit in Las Vegas were going to be good, but their presentations surpassed my wildest expectations—brought tears to my eyes a couple of times. Of course, that might not be much of an endorsement. My wife, Cathy, says I’m a big crybaby at the best of times, while I maintain I’m just sensitive.
If you attended NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show in Las Vegas, you had the pleasure of seeing Joel Sartore receive NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and deliver an informative, amusing, inspiring presentation about his life, family and his long-term project, the National Geographic Photo Ark. The Photo Ark seeks to document more than 12,000 species of mammals, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. With more than half of all species on the path towards extinction during this century, the project could not be timelier. After the Summit, we had a chance to ask Sartore a few questions.
NANPA’s 21st Summit and Trade Show ended today, and as I sit in my hotel room, I’m tired, but still feel the high of another great event. Long days of pre-summit board meetings, short nights with little sleep, early morning coffee to prop my eyes open, seeing old friends, making new ones, and dealing with inevitable glitches that pop up, no matter how much we plan for the unexpected. After two long years of preparation, it’s hard to believe that the whirlwind is gone. Kaput. Just like that. A few short days ago, we were checking people in at the registration desk, hugging friends we hadn’t seen in a few years, and picking up where we left off on conversations from our last meetings. We were watching presentations by some of the world’s greatest photographers—Joel Sartore, James Balog, Sue Flood, Florian Schulz, John Shaw, and George Lepp. OMG! Where else but NANPA can you see all those people in the same room? I hadn’t seen John Shaw since the mid-90s and he saw me first in a hall and reached out to me. I have to admit to being a little starstruck that he would even know who I am, much less be so gracious and friendly to me, like an old friend!
Visitors to Las Vegas were surprised by a rare snowfall that delayed some flights and snarled traffic but excited photographers at NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit.
Pre-Summit activities included an evening trip out to Nelson Ghost Town for a light painting workshop, sponsored by B&H and led by Chris Nicholson and Gabriel Biderman. After an enjoyable couple of hours lighting up old cars and abandoned buildings, the snow started and accompanied our intrepid photographers back to the conference hotel.
Yesterday, Summit attendees participated in Super Sessions presented by Todd Gustafson and Kathy Adams Smith, sat down with great photographers, editors and publishers for portfolio reviews, checked out the exhibit hall for new gear, greeted old friends and made new ones. Meanwhile, first-time Summit attendees got to know each other in a meet and greet.
Yesterday’s activities were capped by the opening general session. Three iconic photographers, George Lepp, John Shaw and Joel Sartore, received NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Sartore then delivered a fabulous keynote about his career and his Photo Ark project.
During the rest of the information- and education-packed weekend, we’ll be hearing from more world-renown photographers, learning new skills, checking out new gear, making new friends, applauding top photographers from NANPA’s Showcase competitions, seeing the work of NANPA’s Summit College Photography Scholarship Program, and having a grand time.
There’s a buzz in the air and that special feeling of camaraderie you get when you’re among friends. Coupled with the excitement of learning from the best and growing your own photography knowledge, there’s an electric atmosphere in the Summit rooms that can match anything glitzy Las Vegas can offer.
At one point or another, most photographers will embark on a personal project. These projects are ways to more deeply explore a personal passion using photography, whether that be documenting how a single location changes throughout a year, looking for variations on a theme, or recording the health and vitality of a species or habitat. Personal projects can be global or local, big or small, and most assuredly will provide a satisfying and challenging addition to your photography arsenal.
At NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit, February 21 – 23, in Las Vegas, you can take a deep dive into all aspects of personal projects. That’s one more reason to register and get yourself (and your gear) to Vegas this month. Sign up before preregistration closes at midnight, Eastern Time, on Monday, February 4th and take advantage of NANPA’s 25th birthday discount! Use promo code “Happy25” for $75 off a member, non-member, or student full Summit registration.
NANPA’s 2019 Award Recipients
It all started back in October 1993, when ornithologist, artist and nature photographer, Roger Tory Peterson invited a group of nature photographers to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York. This was the first time that an organized group of nature photographers had assembled in one place, and more than 100 photographers showed up for panel discussions, networking, and presentations. This meeting was so well received that everyone wanted to do it again—and thanks to a ton of work and great organization—by April 1994, NANPA had a founding board, president, bylaws and mission, with plans underway for their first annual conference, which took place in Florida in January 1995. NANPA’s first awards were also bestowed at the 1995 conference when Roger Tory Peterson received NANPA’s first Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award, and Outdoor Photographer Magazine was honored with our first Community Recognition Award.