Being a member of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) for over three years now, I have lots of takeaways. The first time I got to know NANPA was as a student at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, which has a fantastic photography program and faculty. Because of its unique location, I have had many opportunities to visit Yellowstone National Park, which is only 70 miiles away. I remember how I enjoyed hiking around the park and just photographing the beauty of the Earth. Whenever I was there, I had a deeper understanding of why we need to do something to support and preserve nature. It is a part of our lives or, in other words, we all know we cannot live without it.
Editor’s Note: Michelle A. Butler received NANPA’s 2015 Janie Moore Greene Grant. At that time, she was a student completing her Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She was then working on a photo-documentary thesis project to raise awareness about the condition of birds in the Americas. It highlights the habitats needed for nesting, wintering and migration and calls for conservation efforts that citizens can make to help protect these essential components to our ecosystem.
Editor’s Note: Mac Stone received NANPA’s 2018 Philip Hyde Conservation Grant for his project, “Old Growth: Ancient Swamps of the South.” In this project he explores three old growth bottomland hardwood swamps (Beidler Forest, Congaree Swamp and Corkscrew Swamp) that are the last vestiges of unique ecosystems that once dominated the American South. He recently gave us an exciting update.
In 2010, as part of the International League of Conservation Photographers’ Chesapeake Bay RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition), I found myself on the Anacostia River in Washington DC. The Anacostia is one of the most imperiled watersheds within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a sprawling eco-region spanning most of the Mid-Atlantic. The Anacostia is also my home watershed, where the water that drains off my house and yard ends up.
A film and photography exhibit celebrating the freshwater life of Southern Appalachia
Story and photos by David Herasimtschuk
A true spectacle of biodiversity, freshwater hosts a
teeming collage of colors, shapes and behaviors. These flowing waters are
essential to life. Yet, as a society dependent upon this vital resource, how
often do we look beneath the water’s surface? Over the last ten years,
Freshwaters Illustrated has worked to document the vibrancy and wonder of life
found in the rivers and streams of Southern Appalachia, North America’s most
biologically-rich waters. This unique region harbors the world’s richest
temperate fish fauna and is home to the highest diversity of freshwater
mussels, snails, crayfish and salamanders on the planet. Highlighting this
great variety, Freshwaters Illustrated created its newest
feature film, Hidden Rivers, which
follows the work of conservation biologists and explorers throughout the region
and reveals both the beauty and vulnerability of these ecosystems.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” I thought about that proverb a lot during the NANPA High School Scholarship Program in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where I was one of the instructors. A month ago, ten high school students from around the country spent a week learning about photography, conservation, ethics, biodiversity and a whole lot more through this annual program, made possible by your donations to the NANPA Foundation.
“My interest in nature, biology, and photography predates my time as a biology student and photographer” says Geena. “As a child exploring in the woods with my sisters in northwest Pennsylvania, I always found myself taking pictures of various animals we found with a disposable camera. I wasn’t sure of the reason why I needed to take a photo of everything, but I felt the persistent urge to document our discoveries. Eventually, I was able to take a photography class in high school and finally fulfilled my aspiration of taking photos by learning the technicalities of film photography. While I did not study photography for my undergraduate degree, the constant impulse to always have my camera in my bag persists to this day.
Riley was an undergraduate student majoring in digital media and photography at Eastern Mennonite University when he applied for the 2019 NANPA College Scholarship Program. “I had an interest in creating videos all through elementary, middle, and high school and knew quickly that I wanted to pursue a career that involved using a camera,” he says. But the first time he picked up a DSLR camera wasn’t until college, during which he went to Guatemala and Colombia. “This challenged me in what I could do with my photography. I found an immense amount of enjoyment experimenting and finding creative ways of telling the story I wanted to tell.”
I am a fourth-year undergraduate at Ryerson University in Toronto, majoring in media production. Since getting my first camera at about age nine, I’ve seldom been without one. I spent much of my early years chasing everything from butterflies to squirrels; determined to capture the perfect shot. In high school my life changed forever when I watched the documentary, Sharkwater. It opened my eyes to the plethora of environmental issues facing our planet and I was terrified – but also inspired. In that moment, I realized that media could be used as a catalyst for positive change and I knew that there was nothing else I wanted to dedicate my life to doing
This past year I directed, shot, and am now in the process of editing my first documentary, Saving Barrie’s Lake, about the loss of wetland ecosystems in southern Ontario. These experiences shaped me into who I am today – an artist, environmentalist, and self-proclaimed adventurer – and I can genuinely not wait to see what opportunities the future has in store.
I am attending the University of Wyoming as a graduate student, majoring in communication/environment and natural resource and working on my thesis, a quantitative study about Instagram’s influence on intent to travel to Yellowstone National Park. I’m extremely interested in the human dimensions of environment and natural resource issues, such as values regarding wildlife and public lands.