Story and photos by Tom Haxby, NANPA Board President
It is an understatement to say that these are unprecedented times, but we nature photographers are a hardy bunch. We’re accustomed to physical and intellectual challenges in our pursuits of excellent visual stories. And this isn’t the first time we’ve weathered the need to re-imagine how we do business.
In short, you’ve got this, and NANPA is still here to help.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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?
NANPA has just lost a great member and friend, Walt Anderson. Walt passed away on December 20, one day short of his 71st birthday.
Walt was the founder of Visual Echoes, Inc., which produced and sold the “Better Beamer” flash extender and the Panning Plate. He loved to share his knowledge of the use of flash with his Sunshine in your Pocket program and his thoughts on the ethical use of a flash with wildlife. He was also a great photographer and loved to travel: Florida for birds, the Smoky Mountains and the southwest for landscapes, and of course Yellowstone.
Walt was widely published and received many awards, what I will remember about him the most, was his sweet tooth. He never turned down the opportunity for a good chocolate donut or a piece of pie. If we were not traveling together, I would always consult Walt for some of his favorite locations to photograph in the areas where I would be, he would always start the conversation with the locations of the best donut shops.
Walt loved to be part of the NANPA community. He attended most of all the Summits, led a few NANPA Regional Events and helped with the college scholarship students as a mentor. He will be missed by the photography community. Walt is survived by his wife of 38 years, Carol.
Rest well my friend,
Don Carter currently serves as NANPA’s Vice President, and is a past president. He is a retired university professor who takes photographs full time while traveling the country with his wife and springer spaniel in their RV.
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?
Winter will soon be upon us and while many photographers revel in the unique opportunities for winter photography, I always look forward to spring in the southern Appalachian Mountains with my camera in hand. My annual visits there quite literally put a spring in my step. Birds sing for mates from the newly green trees, waterfalls flow from spring rains, flowers bloom in profusion and it seems that the whole world is new again.
As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us make an inventory of those people and things for which we are grateful. In that list we often find the landscapes and animals and plants that give us such joy when we’re out with our cameras. Not surprisingly, many of the items on our list reside in national parks. But, if we are so grateful for them, what are we doing to protect and preserve them?
It doesn’t have the granite domes of Yosemite or the geysers of Yellowstone, but Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts over 11 million visitors each year making it the most popular in the nation. That’s more than Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks combined.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tom Haxby, and for the next year I will be the President of the Board of Directors of NANPA. I’ve been a member of NANPA for over 10 years and have been on the Board of Directors for the last two. I have always enjoyed photography, but several years ago, after a career of almost 30 years as a natural resource manager, it was time to leave behind the 10 x 10 cubicle, endless meetings, toxic office politics and administrative tedium. So, I dove into nature photography full time and have not regretted for one minute the photographic adventures and time spent behind my camera. Along the way, there have been a few photos that have made the Showcase top 250 and a few other award winners as well as six weeks as an Artist-in-Residence in 2016 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There have been so many trips to the Smokies, that some thought that I am local to there. Not yet! I currently reside in the Traverse City area of Northern Michigan.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Danae Wolfe shows how you can do “Macro on a Budget” in an upcoming NANPA webinar.
Have you made your resolutions for 2019? What will you be doing to grow as a photographer and improve the quality of your work?
We all can find ourselves in a rut. Maybe you’re shooting the same subjects, in the same way, at the same places. Maybe your inspiration or creativity feels tapped out. Maybe you’ve hit a plateau and your photography isn’t improving like it used to.
January is a purely arbitrary time to reassess your photography, but it’s something we should all do every so often. So, why not a set of New Year’s resolutions?