Smile! There’s an Easy Way to Make a Contribution to Nature Photography

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Maybe you saw last month’s matching challenge for the NANPA Foundation but couldn’t participate (but if you did, we thank you!). Between holiday gifts and fundraising pleas from just about every charity and nonprofit organization in the universe, not to mention all our normal daily expenses, it is a tough time to scrape together yet another donation. But, what if you could make a contribution to support the work of the NANPA Foundation all year long, without having to spend a penny more than you’re already spending? That’s the idea behind NANPA Foundation’s AmazonSmile program.

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Another Year Comes to a Close

Photo of a bighorn sheep looking at the camera. Late November and early December mark the peak of the bighorn sheep rut. It is usually accompanied by snow but so far in Colorado it has been a dry, brown season. © Dawn Wilson
Late November and early December mark the peak of the bighorn sheep rut. It is usually accompanied by snow but so far in Colorado it has been a dry, brown season. © Dawn Wilson

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends.

I can’t believe it is now December, and another year is coming to a close. When I reflect on last year at this time compared to this year, and what I expected for this year, it is hard to believe we are still in the middle of a pandemic, climate change is more prevalent than ever, ships with Christmas goods are stacked up along the West Coast, and the economy is showing signs of, well, let’s hope that doesn’t become a struggle too. In the last month I saw polar bears waiting for ice that was at least two weeks later than the average freeze up. And just last week Denver broke a record of 223 days without measurable snow, and there is no snow in the 7-day forecast.

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Be the Change, Make a Difference

A least tern feeds a fish to his young while the mate watches and broods another chick under her wing. 1200mm, 1/1000, f/8, 1/3 EV, ISO 250 © Mary Lundeberg
A least tern feeds a fish to his young while the mate watches and broods another chick under her wing. 1200mm, 1/1000, f/8, 1/3 EV, ISO 250 © Mary Lundeberg

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Are you a change agent? Do you want to make a difference? Now’s your chance! In honor of its 25th birthday, the NANPA Foundation set an ambitious goal to raise $25,000 and is well over half way there. This week, an anonymous donor offered to match, dollar for dollar up to $2,500, all donations to the NANPA Foundation.

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Mark Lukes Receives NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award

Mark Lukes holds up his Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award presented by NANPA at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo credit: Jeff Lukes
Mark Lukes holds up his Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award presented by NANPA at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo credit: Jeff Lukes

Mark Lukes received NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award on July 17th at a barbeque organized by his wife, Linda, and daughter, Lauren, at his home in Colorado. NANPA President Dawn Wilson presented the award and both Francine Butler and Wendy Shattil spoke before an audience of about 40 of his friends, neighbors, family, and former employees.

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Volunteer Recognized for Contributions to NANPA Summit College Photography Scholarship Program

A woman looks over a ship's railing at ice floating in the sea. Caption: Alice Robertson in Antarctica. Photo credit: Sue Flood Photography
Alice Robertson in Antarctica. Photo credit: Sue Flood Photography

Nevada-based nature photographer Alice Robertson will be awarded NANPA’s 2021 Kinne Legacy Award during the Nature Photography Virtual Summit April 29-30. Alice is the driving force behind the NANPA Summit College Photography Scholarship Program, which provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduates to not only attend the biennial Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show and network with professional photographers and agents, but also to participate in some hands-on photography and videography storytelling. (Uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic prevented the program from taking place this year.) Alice first proposed the idea for the scholarship program while serving on the board of the NANPA Foundation and has been integral to its success and continued vitality.

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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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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.

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 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.

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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Summit Challenge Grant for NANPA Foundation

Mary Jane Gibson, Vice President of the NANPA Foundation Board of Trustees announces the results of a challenge grant at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit.

Mary Jane Gibson, Vice President of the NANPA Foundation Board of Trustees announces the results of a challenge grant at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit.

During NANPA’s recent Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show in Las Vegas, one bunch of photographers always seemed to be especially hard at work, energized and excited. These young people were participants in the NANPA Foundation’s Summit College Scholarship Program and their week in Las Vegas was packed with learning, growing, creating, networking and having fun.

Their assignment: develop a story-telling project which would be shown during the Summit.

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Grants and Awards Recognize the Work of Nature Photographers

Photo by Morgan Heim 2017 Philip Hyde Grant winner

“Candlight Grow”
All that glitters is not gold. Each light represents marijuana plants that once grew within this stretch of the High Sierra National Forest in California. A single grow can range from a thousand to tens of thousands of plants. © Morgan Heim 2017 Philip Hyde Grant winner.

If a nature photographer clicks her shutter in the wilderness, and no one else is around to hear it, can it still make an impact? It sure can! The work of professional and aspiring nature photographers can save ecosystems, species and beautiful landmarks. NANPA understands the important work you’re doing.

And better than the sound of one hand clapping, NANPA and the NANPA Foundation have many ways to recognize and support the work, career or budding potential of nature photographers. All during the year, there are opportunities to apply or nominate someone for an award, a grant or other recognition.

Several are running now or about to start. Let’s take a look. One could be tailor made for you!

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