People get into nature photography for a variety of reasons. Some of us are high-minded enough to do it with conservation in mind, but for most, and that includes me, it comes down to the fact we want to share the wonder of what we’ve seen with others. There might even be some bragging involved. Ha ha! Look where I’ve been. See what I photographed. We may do it partially to remind ourselves of exceptional experiences. I know my memory is not what it used to be, and sometimes it takes a photo or two to bring back the memory of the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen. But then I’ve been doing this for more than half my life. That’s a lot of photos under the bridge.
NANPA’s 21st Summit and Trade Show ended today, and as I sit in my hotel room, I’m tired, but still feel the high of another great event. Long days of pre-summit board meetings, short nights with little sleep, early morning coffee to prop my eyes open, seeing old friends, making new ones, and dealing with inevitable glitches that pop up, no matter how much we plan for the unexpected. After two long years of preparation, it’s hard to believe that the whirlwind is gone. Kaput. Just like that. A few short days ago, we were checking people in at the registration desk, hugging friends we hadn’t seen in a few years, and picking up where we left off on conversations from our last meetings. We were watching presentations by some of the world’s greatest photographers—Joel Sartore, James Balog, Sue Flood, Florian Schulz, John Shaw, and George Lepp. OMG! Where else but NANPA can you see all those people in the same room? I hadn’t seen John Shaw since the mid-90s and he saw me first in a hall and reached out to me. I have to admit to being a little starstruck that he would even know who I am, much less be so gracious and friendly to me, like an old friend!
Visitors to Las Vegas were surprised by a rare snowfall that delayed some flights and snarled traffic but excited photographers at NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit.
Pre-Summit activities included an evening trip out to Nelson Ghost Town for a light painting workshop, sponsored by B&H and led by Chris Nicholson and Gabriel Biderman. After an enjoyable couple of hours lighting up old cars and abandoned buildings, the snow started and accompanied our intrepid photographers back to the conference hotel.
Yesterday, Summit attendees participated in Super Sessions presented by Todd Gustafson and Kathy Adams Smith, sat down with great photographers, editors and publishers for portfolio reviews, checked out the exhibit hall for new gear, greeted old friends and made new ones. Meanwhile, first-time Summit attendees got to know each other in a meet and greet.
Yesterday’s activities were capped by the opening general session. Three iconic photographers, George Lepp, John Shaw and Joel Sartore, received NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Sartore then delivered a fabulous keynote about his career and his Photo Ark project.
During the rest of the information- and education-packed weekend, we’ll be hearing from more world-renown photographers, learning new skills, checking out new gear, making new friends, applauding top photographers from NANPA’s Showcase competitions, seeing the work of NANPA’s Summit College Photography Scholarship Program, and having a grand time.
There’s a buzz in the air and that special feeling of camaraderie you get when you’re among friends. Coupled with the excitement of learning from the best and growing your own photography knowledge, there’s an electric atmosphere in the Summit rooms that can match anything glitzy Las Vegas can offer.
For several years now we’ve been hearing about problems with bees. Mass die offs. Colony collapse disorder. Potential shortages of hives for commercial pollination. In 2013, after hearing about the troubles bees were having, Clay Bolt started photographing bees around his South Carolina home. After posting photos of two tiny bees online, and finding people (even entomologists) couldn’t identify them, a new project was born, which led to Clay Bolt receiving this year’s Environmental Impact Award.
What’s so special about a photo of five penguins? You could get that at a local zoo. Certainly, during NANPA member and travel and photographer Cindy Miller Hopkin’s trip last year to the far reaches of the South Atlantic, she had plenty of photos of penguins. But one shot, from off the South Sandwich Islands, turned out to be unique.
As she was editing and captioning her shots, Cindy noticed that there were five different species of penguins in one frame. That seemed unusual and she brought it to the attention of an ornithologist on the tour who told her he’d never seen an image with five species in the same place, at the same time. Further research revealed that no one else had either.
At one point or another, most photographers will embark on a personal project. These projects are ways to more deeply explore a personal passion using photography, whether that be documenting how a single location changes throughout a year, looking for variations on a theme, or recording the health and vitality of a species or habitat. Personal projects can be global or local, big or small, and most assuredly will provide a satisfying and challenging addition to your photography arsenal.
At NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit, February 21 – 23, in Las Vegas, you can take a deep dive into all aspects of personal projects. That’s one more reason to register and get yourself (and your gear) to Vegas this month. Sign up before preregistration closes at midnight, Eastern Time, on Monday, February 4th and take advantage of NANPA’s 25th birthday discount! Use promo code “Happy25” for $75 off a member, non-member, or student full Summit registration.
The Outstanding Photographer of the Year Award goes to an individual who has demonstrated unquestioned skill and excellence as a nature photographer through his or her past work and who has produced extraordinary recent work of significance to the industry. That would be a pretty good description of the career of Florian Schulz, the 2019 Outstanding Photographer of the Year.
Schulz is a photographer, filmmaker, speaker and teacher, specializing in wildlife and conservation photojournalism. He is a Senior Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and serves on the iLCS board. He’s been published in publications like National Geographic magazine and is an in-demand speaker.
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring
When we think of outstanding sites for nature photography, most of us tend to think of places like Tanzania, the Pantanal, Costa Rica…you know, places that cost a fortune to visit. And these locations do indeed have wonderful photo opportunities, but some of the best images are captured by people who never wander far from home. Yes, there are wild things right in our neighborhoods, hiding secrets that are just begging to be photographed. Keep in mind my livelihood is dependent upon photographers traveling to distant destinations, but I feel it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there is beauty everywhere. Even without money to travel, there are photographable worlds available to you.
NANPA Summits are much more than listening to speakers, viewing world-class, jaw-droppingly-awesome photography, and drooling over your next equipment purchase or photo workshop destination. Lifelong friendships and connections have been made from talking to others during lunch, in the halls, or even waiting in restroom lines (I speak first-hand on the last one!)
The countdown to the 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show in Las Vegas, February 21-23 is on at NANPA HQ! Online registrations for the full summit, one-day passes, Super Sessions, Portfolio Reviews and other tickets close February 4; but no worries if you miss that deadline, because you can still register onsite in Las Vegas.
NANPA turns 25 this year and plans are underway for birthday specials all year long!
Still debating whether you should come to NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show, February 21-23 in Las Vegas? Here are five compelling reasons to pull out your credit card and start making reservations. And, hey, there’s still time to get pre-conference pricing . . . but only ‘till midnight, Sunday, January 20th.