Connections

A Roseate Spoonbill landing on a tree.
Roseate Spoonbill

Story & photo by Tom Haxby, NANPA President

NANPA recently held two online town hall meetings with our members; one with professional nature photographers and the other with enthusiasts. These meetings and a recent e-mail discussion thread among our board members are part of our ongoing search for the answer to one question: How do we better connect with our nature photography community, both professional and enthusiast? 

The reality is that this pandemic crisis has given members of the board of directors and staff time to slow down and think about where we are as an organization and where we are headed, and maybe that is not a bad thing.  And, much like the photo of the roseate spoonbill landing, it may be awkward, but we will get it done.

Questions

How can we stay connected with nature through our photography when our ability to safely venture outside of our homes has been curtailed? How do we connect with other nature photographers who share our passion and inspire us when our opportunities to meet through regional events, meetups and nature photography celebrations have been suddenly swept away? 

Eventually, we will get beyond this crisis and will again be able re-establish our connection with nature, cameras in hand, as well as network in-person with our fellow nature photographers.  By this time next year (April 28-May 2, 2021), many of us will be finally gathering in Tucson, AZ, at the NANPA Summit to again meet and greet our fellow nature photographers. 

Beyond the short term, there are longer-term questions, such as how can NANPA engage a wider audience in sharing and caring about nature through photography?  And especially, how can NANPA successfully connect with the younger generation faced with living most of their lives in an increasingly stressed natural world?  These long-term questions are the ones that are the most difficult to answer.

A few particular questions in the town hall meetings resonated with me. From the enthusiasts’ town hall meeting:

Does NANPA have a mentoring program? While NANPA does not have an official mentoring program, NANPA members often network to find others with similar areas of interest who may be willing to share their skills and experience. During these weeks that we’re unable to network in person, you may want to explore the member directory to look for nature photographers near you. Find a few and look at their websites. Follow them on social media and/or subscribe to their email lists. Meeting virtually in this way can put yourself in a good position to introduce yourself in person when restrictions are lifted. If you aren’t sure how to use the member directory in this way, this tutorial can help:

Does NANPA have a way for those with limited mobility to participate in photography events? This is something that the board has discussed, and I believe we can and should find a way to accommodate those who may have physical limitations. Our regional event in Badlands National Park, May 31-June 3, 2021, is wheelchair friendly, and that’s moving in the right direction.

And from the town hall meeting for professionals:

How can professionals increase their visibility? Our reach in several programs goes well beyond our members, making these excellent opportunities to get noticed. For example, anyone who belongs to NANPA’s Facebook Group can post images there, but NANPA members can also share promotional posts once a week when their membership number is included (check the group rules for specifics).

Host an Instagram takeover of NANPA’s account, and/or tag your Instagram photos with #NANPApix for an opportunity to be featured in our Instagram feed.

Write blog posts, give a webinar, and submit photos for the Showcase competition. Showcase winners are featured throughout the year on our website and social media accounts and are published in Expressions.

Why NANPA?

Unlike other photography organizations, NANPA is solely dedicated to nature photography.

Perhaps you enjoy using your photography to further conservation. Personally, NANPA has opened my eyes to how photography can tell a story about a conservation issue. That is why we published our Conservation Handbook and why we added a category in our Showcase competition for conservation photography. 

Maybe you believe in our advocacy efforts to protect the rights of photographers or that educating photographers about ethics in nature photography is needed now more than ever.

Perhaps being a member means that you can purchase good insurance for your valuable photography gear. Improving your photography skills is a common desire of NANPA members, and there are many opportunities to improve your photography skills through online webinars, regional events, summits and our blog posts. 

Perhaps as a professional, being a NANPA member increases your visibility. Publications such as our soon-to-be published handbook Make It Work: The Business of Nature Photography, helps established professionals reach new audiences and will give every photographer ideas and tools for improving your nature photography business.

Maybe the biggest benefit you get is just being part of a network of photographers with a passion for being out in nature and sharing the beauty and awesomeness of nature in photographs.  Could it be that you just love nature and photography, and that is reason enough to want to join with NANPA in celebrating and promoting the joy and satisfaction of nature photography?

Whatever your reasons for belonging to NANPA, the board of directors, staff and many volunteers are working hard to make NANPA the place where you can connect with nature while connecting with a community of nature photographers.

Seven Tips for a Successful Meetup Photography Group

Group of photographers spread out on a flower-covered hillside.

Story & photos by Donald Quintana

Our headlights cut through the darkness as we wind down the Blue Star Memorial Highway through the Lapanza Range of mountains. Just before nautical twilight ascends onto the earth, we pull into the parking area marked with an old vintage American water pump windmill. It’s good to have a landmark for our location. Out of the blackness, barely visible to the naked eye, carpets of Gold Fields speckled with Tidy Tips and patches of Baby Blue Eyes, glisten with the newly-dropped dew. Arriving 30 minutes before the scheduled meet up time, Bob and I set up and prepare to greet the members of our 367 strong NANPA Meetup Group of the Central Coast of California. Usually we have about 40 people RSVP, around 30 will actually make an event. Goodness knows what we would do if all 367 members showed up. Today we are gathering to photograph the wildflowers along Highway 58 and Carrizo Plain super bloom. Distant headlights begin to appear down Highway 58 coming in our direction. Members are beginning to show, and soon our meet up will begin.

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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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Photographers’ New Year’s Resolutions

The words 'new years resolutions' are displayed in the center of a page on a vintage typewriter.
Photo by Matthew Henry via Burst.

It may seem trite to talk about resolutions for the new year but, really, it’s as good a time as any to challenge yourself.  Are there things you can do to improve your photography?  To improve your business?  To increase the satisfaction and enjoyment you get from your photography?

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After Summit, What’s Next for NANPA Members?

George Lepp reflecting on his career in a keynote at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit.

George Lepp reflecting on his career in a keynote at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit.

Last month’s Nature Photography Summit is over.  Images from the trip have been processed.  Gear and clothes have been cleaned and suitcases put away.  Fortunately, there’s always something exciting we can look forward to.  So, what’s next on NANPA’s hit parade?

Celebration

At the Summit, NANPA announced that the next Nature Photography Celebration will be in Asheville, NC, April 19 – 22, 2020.  The previous Celebration, in Jackson, WY, in 2018, featured location shoots, workshops, informative presentations, gear demonstrations and much more.  Circle the dates on your calendar. More information will be coming.

NANPA celebrates Nature Photography Day on June 15th with a variety of events, from a photo contest to local workshops.  This annual event encourages people to explore with a camera the natural world around them, whether that’s their own backyard, a local stream or a national park.  Nature Photography Day promotes the enjoyment of nature photography and shows a wider public all over the world how images can be used to advance the conservation and protection of plants, wildlife and landscapes close to home and far away.  Stay tuned for more information.

Competition

This year’s Showcase Competition kicks off August 1st.  Exclusively for NANPA members, Showcase is your opportunity to win prizes, get your photos featured on NANPA’s website, blog and printed in Expressions, NANPA’s annual publication.  You can see the top 250 images from last year’s competition, browse back issues of Expressions, or order your copy of this year’s Expressions.  Get inspired and get out there shooting!

Education

Throughout the year, NANPA offers several Regional Events, two- to four-day field tours led by outstanding photographers with intimate knowledge of the area and photographic opportunities.  Attendance is limited.  The June astrophotography in Arches National Park workshop is already sold out but you can still register for October’s workshop in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

NANPA also hosts a webinar series, open to members.  The next webinar, VisionQuest Photography presented by Shane McDermott, will be on March 29th.  Registration is free.  You can also visit the webinar archives and view past recordings that cover a wide array of subjects.  Have a nature photography topic you’re passionate about?  Maybe you should contact us  to present a future webinar!

Advocacy

NANPA’s Ethics Committee recently released guide to Ethical Field Practices.  You can download a pdf of the guidelines or request cards pre-printed with the guidelines.  In addition to helping us ensure we follow the best ethical practices, these documents make great handouts for camera clubs, Meetup groups and at other opportunities to spread the word about ethical nature photography.  NANPA also has statements on Access to Public Lands and Truth in Captioning.

NANPA’s Conservation Committee has been busy, too.  They recently launched the NANPA Citizen Science initiative, a database of science and conservation projects that welcome and can use the help of a nature photographer.  Check it out.  You, too, could be a citizen scientist!  Know of a local citizen science project?  Let us know so we can add it to the database.  Coming soon is a Conservation Handbook.

Social

NANPA sponsors a number of Meetup groups which bring people in the same area together to photograph nature.  Check for one in your area and follow NANPA on the social media platforms of your choice.

NANPA Facebook Page 

NANPA Facebook Group

NANPA on Instagram

NANPA on Twitter

As you can see, there’s always a lot going on at NANPA, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of NANPA’s member benefits.  Are you taking advantage of all NANPA has to offer?  One way to be sure is to check the New Member Resource Center, for an up-to-date listing of all the benefits and opportunities that come with your NANPA membership.