Happy New (Fiscal) Year and Auld Lang Syne

Photo of Susan Day.
NANPA keeps Susan Day on the go. Photo credit: Susan Day.

By Susan Day, NANPA Executive Director

It’s hard to believe that this fiscal year over! Today we welcome Dawn Wilson as NANPA’s next president as well as new board members Beth Huning, Trent Sizemore, and Kika Tuff. Lisa Langell will stay on for a second term and be a great mentor to the incoming members. I’m looking forward to working with and helping everyone achieve NANPA’s goals and dreams.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Emma Balunek

Photo of prairie dog in front of construction. Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Conservation: "New Neighbors in Town” © Emma Balunek.
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Conservation: “New Neighbors in Town” © Emma Balunek.

How I Got the Shot

An urban prairie dog colony near downtown Fort Collins was scheduled for relocation. Construction of new apartments had begun. I knew an excavator would be coming to dig up part of the colony. I drove to the site every day to check on the excavator because I wanted to make a picture of a prairie dog with the excavator in the background to tell the story of development and urban prairie dogs. Finally, the excavator was in the perfect spot. I identified a burrow, set out my camera with a remote trigger, and waited until a prairie dog stood on that burrow.

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Wow!

Photo of members of NANPA's board, St. Louis, 2019.
August 17, 2019. St. Louis, Hampton Inn. NANPA board meeting.

By Tom Haxby, NANPA President

Wow! It was quite the shock to me a little over a year ago when I was approached about being nominated to be the next president of NANPA. Skip forward almost one year after being elected as president and the time has just flown by. The best part about it has been the opportunity to become more involved with NANPA and getting to know many of the people who make NANPA a special community of and for nature photography. So, before I pass the gavel to our incoming president, Dawn Wilson, I want to thank all who have helped NANPA in the last year and continue to do so.  This may feel like a going away note, but really I will be on the board for another year, and who knows after that.

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Membership Has Benefits Beyond the Obvious

Photo of a bird in a tree by Tom Haxby.
Photo by Tom Haxby.

By NANPA President Tom Haxby

Fellow board member Lisa Langell recently shared with me a member survey from another photography organization which had been used to assess their member benefits and services. Serendipity, perhaps, because lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits of being a NANPA member.

More than Pretty Pictures

When I joined NANPA just over 10 years ago, I did so because I was interested in nature photography and believed membership could help me improve my photographs. But I discovered that NANPA is about more than just taking better nature photos.

At the NANPA Summit in Jacksonville in 2017, and again in Las Vegas in 2019, I learned that nature photography is about more than just pretty pictures. It’s also about using photos to affect change.

In Jacksonville, Clyde Butcher spoke about efforts to save Florida’s natural areas and shared his own conservation work. His presentation was complemented by a video, created by NANPA’s Summit College Photography Scholarship Program participants, about attempts to connect these areas to create greenway corridors.

Several of the presentations in Las Vegas on conservation challenges in the Arctic were really eye-opening. Other Summit presenters like Clay Bolt and Andrew Snyder inspired me with their work on rare, threatened and endangered species through the Meet Your Neighbours technique. Because of them, I now have my own Meet Your Neighbours setup. 

I’ve seen how conservation photography can make a difference. Want to get started? NANPA’s recently-published Conservation Handbook is available to anyone interested in learning how. Find it in the Members’ Area of the NANPA website or click below.

Cover of the NANPA Conservation Photography Handbook

Ethics and Advocacy

Speaking of handbooks, we currently have available on our website a guide to the Principles of Ethical Field Practices. But that is just the beginning! NANPA has undertaken a much more extensive project to create a handbook on the ethics of nature photography. Your membership helps support large undertakings such as this that will allow NANPA to take a leadership role in educating photographers on ethics. Quite frankly, this is very much needed as the overzealous pursuit of nature and wildlife photos threatens both scenic places and the plants and animals we love photographing. And bad behavior threatens continued access to these places by photographers.

Your membership has also helped support our work on behalf of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE Act of 2019). If passed by Congress and signed into law, the CASE Act would provide photographers with the option of pursuing infringers in a small claims-type of process instead of federal district court. Read more about how the CASE Act will help photographers

Friendship and Networking

I will always remember the NANPA Regional Events that I attended in the Smokies and Upper Peninsula of Michigan—for the great images and friendships made. It will be my great pleasure to now be a regional event leader, myself, in the Smokies this spring with Hank Erdmann. NANPA has many more Regional Events scheduled for all levels of photographers in various parts of the country.

There are larger events, too, that offer many of the same benefits but on a bigger scale. Just around the corner is our second Nature Photography Celebration in Asheville, NC, April 19-21. These Celebrations provide opportunities for shooting, interaction with vendors, learning, networking and more. Asheville is a great place to be in April.

Travel and Equipment Insurance

As I move about the country with my photo gear in airports, cars, and on location, I am thankful that I have insurance on my photography equipment underwritten by Chubb in association with NANPA. You can find information about this and all the other NANPA member benefits in the Members’ Area of the website.

And Taking Better Pictures, Too

All that being said, my membership has also helped me improve my nature photos, just as I originally anticipated when I joined.

During my time with NANPA, I have entered the Showcase Competition, and I have been fortunate to have a few photos published in Expressions. (It’s a great source of ideas and inspiration so order your copy now!) This gave me confidence that I could get great images because, the reality is, if you want to be taken seriously as a nature photographer, quality matters.

I have attended many memorable webinars, both live and recorded. These sessions are free for members and a great way to learn or refresh photography skills. Best of all, you can participate at your own convenience, from wherever you are. Our next webinar, sponsored by Tamron on February 13 is Getting the Most from Your Long Lens with Bob Coates. Sign up or watch a recording of a previous webinar in the Members’ Area.

Sandhill Cranes flying together © Bob Coates.
Sandhill Cranes © Bob Coates.

Portfolio reviews, offered at each Summit hosted in odd-numbered years, provide another opportunity for learning from industry professionals including but not limited to agents and editors. We are currently working on logistics for our next Summit in Tucson in 2021, so stayed tuned for that.

Blog articles are yet another source of education and inspiration, and I especially enjoyed the recent article by Bill Palmer on Chasing Spring Warblers. There will be plenty of warblers—and photographers—at this year’s Biggest Week in Birding Festival at Magee Marsh in Ohio at which, by the way, you can find the NANPA booth. Note that our blog is separate from our regular member and non-member news lists, so if you do not already get NANPA blog posts in your email, you can subscribe on the right hand side of any of them (including this one).

Perhaps you might be interested in submitting a blog post too. What a great chance to expose your photos (pun intended) and stories to fellow NANPA members. Just send a note to publications@nanpa.org. That’s what we mean when we talk about “sharing” within NANPA. Everyone is both a teacher and student here.

That’s true regardless of age. As I highlighted in last month’s blog post, young nature photographers are becoming members and getting opportunities through NANPA’s high school and college scholarship programs, both of which are made possible in part due to your support of the NANPA Foundation. By the way, the Foundation’s Online Auction has some great items up for bidding starting February 3rd.  All proceeds go towards funding Foundation programs.

What Will You Do?

Gordon Illg has been known to tell me that I ramble, so I need to wrap up. But there really is a lot going on at NANPA, and I hope that you will take advantage of the opportunities. We are working hard to make NANPA a place for nature photographers to achieve all of their nature photography dreams. What will you do this year to help you reach yours?

Exclusive opportunity for NANPA members

Laptop on desk showing NANPA website

NANPA members are encouraged to share stories, tips, and how-to articles on our blog. Not as gifted at writing as you are photography? No problem. We can help you craft a post.

How NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program Impacted Me: A Turning Point

Owl on alert in the forest.

Owl on alert in the forest.

Story and photos by Ashleigh Scully

I was a participant in the 2017 NANPA High School Scholarship Program and spent a week in the Great Smoky Mountains working with some incredible mentors, broadening my interests in photography and learning from some very talented kids my age as well. This program was a turning point for me–it showed me just how much I want to inspire the younger generation to learn more about conservation and photography. Working with and learning from 9 other students from across the country was not what I expected it to be. I had assumed we would all stick to the certain aspects of photography we were comfortable with, but instead we all motivated each other to try a little bit of everything. During that week in the Smokies, I got to experiment with flash and night photography and use some of the cameras, lenses, and flashes that Canon sent to as loaners. I now have knowledge of the settings to use for star and night photography, something that will definitely come in handy for me in the future. We also hiked out to a waterfall and attempted slow motion waterfall photos to capture the blur of the water. Using the loaner flashes, we also found little salamanders and toads and used white backgrounds for the “Meet Your Neighbors” technique that  Andrew Snyder, one of the mentors, taught us. Some of the kids were so in love with this new technique, it was all they did!

Do you know a talented young nature photographer? NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program is seeking 10 high school student photographers to attend a five-day field event where they can learn from the industry’s top shooters. Apply now for this immersive, hands-on education program to be held in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park July 6–11, 2020. Combining classroom and field-based instruction, students will have the chance to improve their nature photography skills, learn about NANPA, meet industry professionals, and gain an appreciation of the Smoky Mountains’ rich natural history. The NANPA Foundation funds this and other educational programs. January 31, 2020 is the last day to apply, so don’t wait. Apply now! This article was originally published in January, 2019.

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Finding Community in NANPA

Sunset over water. Photo by Mark Kreider.
Photo by Mark Kreider.

Story and photos by Mark Kreider

I have been a NANPA member for a year and a half. Even in that short time, NANPA and its supportive community have influenced me in many meaningful ways. Life seems to be full of wonderful flukes, and my introduction to NANPA was one such instance. One morning in November of 2012, when I was a high school senior, I received word from a fellow photographer of a great photographic opportunity that existed for high school students. Though just three days away from the deadline of NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program application, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I quite honestly remember thinking it looked too good to be true – a chance to spend a week in the field and at the NANPA Annual Summit, all the while learning and being inspired. I wondered to myself a little incredulously, How could I not have heard of NANPA before? It looks awesome!

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Wanted: Future Nature Photographers

Students at work during Photo from 2019 High School Scholarship Program at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. © Tom Haxby.
Photo from 2019 High School Scholarship Program at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. © Tom Haxby.

By NANPA President Tom Haxby

Do you know a high school student who will be between the age of 14-19 and a rising sophomore, junior or senior during the dates of July 6-11, 2020, who might be interested in exploring nature through nature photography while having fun too? Perhaps this might be one of your children, grandchildren or even a non-relative.

Please consider encouraging eligible students to apply to the NANPA High School Photography Scholarship Program in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Applications are available at http://nanpafoundation.org/high-school-scholarships/ and must be submitted online by January 31, 2020.

If you know an educator who might interact with interested students, please inform them of this program. You can download a flyer to share.

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Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays sign
Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst.

Just as there are many types of nature photographer and many ways to frame a shot, NANPA’s members come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, with differing perspectives and beliefs.  From all of us at NANPA, best wishes to all of you on whichever holidays or traditions you find meaningful and celebrate.

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How NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program Impacted Me

Story and Photography by Jorel Cuomo

When I attended NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program (NHSSP) in 2004 in Portland, my eyes opened to exploring wildlife photography as a medium. I greatly benefited from the one-on-one instruction and support of fellow photographers, both peers and mentors. Before attending this program, I never knew all this support existed; I felt that I was exploring nature and my camera by myself. Being a scholarship winner gave me the opportunity to harness my potential. Being surrounding by world-class photographers that shared their knowledge and experience opened my eyes to the possibilities that awaited me in our magnificent world.

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A Nature Photographer’s Thanksgiving, Part 2

Volunteers in a Rock Creek Conservancy work crew remove invasive plants, giving native species room to grow and sustain insect and animal life.
Volunteers in a Rock Creek Conservancy work crew remove invasive plants, giving native species room to grow and sustain insect and animal life.

Story and photo by Frank Gallagher

Along with the bounty on the table tomorrow, most of us will be grateful for things like our family, health, home and hearth.  We might also be thankful for the wonderful photographic opportunities that abound in this old world, even with all its problems (see A Nature Photographer’s Thanksgiving, Part 1).  I am embarrassed to admit that sometimes missing from my list of things to be thankful for are the volunteers that make possible so many of the experiences I enjoy.

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