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?

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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Obituary: Walt Anderson

Walt Anderson. Photo by Don Carter.
Walt Anderson. Photo by Don Carter.

Story and Don Carter

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

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.

Geena Hill and the NANPA College Scholarship Program

Many northerners like to migrate to Florida in the winter to escape the cold, but few realize that they should stick around until late spring. May/June in central Florida is one of the most beautiful times to visit Florida, mostly because of the wildflowers that bloom en masse along the roadsides. There is an incredibly high diversity of wildflowers that can be seen, but some areas are completely dominated by a native wildflower, Coreopsis, which is also Florida’s state wildflower. © Geena Hill.

Many northerners like to migrate to Florida in the winter to escape the cold, but few realize that they should stick around until late spring. May/June in central Florida is one of the most beautiful times to visit Florida, mostly because of the wildflowers that bloom en masse along the roadsides. There is an incredibly high diversity of wildflowers that can be seen, but some areas are completely dominated by a native wildflower, Coreopsis, which is also Florida’s state wildflower. © Geena Hill.

One of the highlights of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show was seeing the work of NANPA’s College Scholarship Program participants.  Now that the event is over, it’s a good time to learn a little more about them and their experiences at Summit.  Today, we meet Geena Hill, who recently graduated with her master’s degree from the University of Florida, with a focus in wildlife ecology and conservation.

“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.

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From the Executive Director – Susan Day

Susan Day on a foggy morning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Richard Day

Susan Day on a foggy morning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Richard Day

June 30 is the last day for Gordon Illg’s term as NANPA’s 25th president and when the board terms for Sean Fitzgerald and Ted Moreno end.

If there was a prize for the most meetings presided over, Gordon definitely qualifies!  In the last twelve months, Gordon led twelve teleconference board meetings, three teleconference executive committee meetings, two in-person multi-day board meetings, and the NANPA Business meeting held at the 2019 Summit in Las Vegas.   Not to mention, he participated in almost weekly meetings with me plus dozens of committee and planning meetings in the past year.  Gordon has been great to work with, and even though he travels a lot for his workshop business, he was always available to answer questions and kept in regular contact with me.  Gordon will continue his board service to NANPA as Past President for another year—where he’ll still get to attend plenty of meetings (but won’t have to lead them!)

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Riley Swartzendruber and the NANPA College Scholarship Program

Rax Bolay means "Green Viper" in the indigenous language Q'eqchi. The common name for the snake is Yellow-Blotched Palm Pit Viper. It is a highly endemic species to the area. © Riley Swartzendruber.

Rax Bolay means “Green Viper” in the indigenous language Q’eqchi. The common name for the snake is Yellow-Blotched Palm Pit Viper. It is a highly endemic species to the area. © Riley Swartzendruber.

One of the highlights of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show was seeing the work of NANPA’s College Scholarship Program participants.  Now that the event is over, it’s a good time to learn a little more about them and their experiences at Summit.  Today, we meet Riley Swartzendruber.

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.”

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NANPA’s Birthday: 25 Years of Leadership in Nature Photography

NANPA's year-long 25th birthday celebrations kicked off at the Nature Photography Summit.

NANPA’s year-long 25th birthday celebrations kicked off at the Nature Photography Summit.

The world has changed a lot in the twenty-five years since NANPA was formed.  Back in 1994, the first commercially-successful web browser, Netscape Navigator, was released.  “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” was renamed Yahoo.  Google was four years away and Facebook wouldn’t launch until 2004.  If you had internet access, it was probably dial-up at 56kbps through Compuserv or AOL. Photoshop 3.0 had just come out and introduced layers.  Microsoft Windows was new but your Pentium computer probably ran MS-DOS and had 4 MB RAM. Mobile phones didn’t have cameras and certainly weren’t smart.

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Nicole Landry and the NANPA College Scholarship Program

There were many bees buzzing around these purple coneflowers on the sunny summer day that I took this photo. After chasing them around for a while, I opted to take a stationary position, frame my shot, and wait for them to come to me. The results were worthwhile and I particularly like how the tight framing brings you into the world of the bee. © Nicole Landry.

There were many bees buzzing around these purple coneflowers on the sunny summer day that I took this photo. After chasing them around for a while, I opted to take a stationary position, frame my shot, and wait for them to come to me. The results were worthwhile and I particularly like how the tight framing brings you into the world of the bee. © Nicole Landry.

One of the highlights of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show was seeing the work of NANPA’s College Scholarship Program participants.  Now that the event is over, it’s a good time to learn a little more about them and their experience at Summit.  Today, we meet Nicole Landry.

Tell us a little about yourself.

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.

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From the Executive Director – Susan Day

Susan Day relaxing in Rhyolite Ghost Town, NV after 2019 Las Vegas Summit. Photo by Richard Day.

Susan Day relaxing in Rhyolite Ghost Town, NV after 2019 Las Vegas Summit. Photo by Richard Day.

As I’ve been flipping through past issues of NANPA’s first newsletters, Currents, I’m impressed with how forward-thinking our boards and management teams were as they formulated our organizational documents, Mission Statement, bylaws, and basic structure.  Much of those basics are still relevant and just as important today—ethics, education, conservation, inspiration as they relate to nature photography—as they were 25 years ago.

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Ashton Hooker and the NANPA College Scholarship Program

Balcony House, Mesa Verde National Park © Ashton Hooker

Balcony House, Mesa Verde National Park © Ashton Hooker

One of the highlights of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show was seeing the work of NANPA’s College Scholarship Program participants.  Now that the event is over, it’s a good time to learn a little more about them and their experience at Summit.  Today, we meet Ashton Hooker.

Tell us a little about yourself.

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.

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