7 Things Professional Nature Photographers Want You to Know About Visiting National Parks

Respect the rangers when they are stopping traffic to give wildlife some space, like for this grizzly bear and her cubs crossing in Grand Teton National Park. © Dawn Wilson

Tourists have been flocking to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other nature areas in record numbers since the coronavirus pandemic began—which is both a reason to celebrate and potentially a cause for concern. Whether you’re new to these areas, a frequent visitor, or somewhere in between, don’t pack up the car until you read this.

1. We’re thrilled to see you enjoying nature. 

The increase in park visitors is obvious to us as nature photographers, in part because we’re sometimes in the field from before sunrise to after sunset and see the crowds, and in part because park efforts to manage those crowds—like timed-entry reservations—have changed the way we do our jobs. But we’re excited to see you here and certainly are willing to share our love for these amazing spaces. 

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Spring Flowers

Photo of the Estes Valley outside of Rocky Mountain National Park after a spring snowstorm. ©  Dawn Wilson
A view of Estes Valley outside of Rocky Mountain National Park after a spring snowstorm. © Dawn Wilson

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

Welcome to the month of spring flowers!

Well, for most people it should be. As I type this blog post, it is snowing again here in Colorado. The snow is a welcome weather occurrence as we desperately need the moisture, but it does do a number on those flowers people plant before the recommended planting date of Mother’s Day in Colorado. Much of Colorado, like the West, is still under severe drought conditions, bringing with it the fear of yet another difficult wildfire season. Fingers crossed that is not the case.

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Grand Canyon Book Leads to Photography Award

Photo of Thomas Blagden
Thomas Blagden

Tom Blagden, a nature and conservation photographer based Connecticut, will receive NANPA’s Environmental Impact Award during the 2021 Nature Photography Virtual Summit, April 29-30. He will also be a keynote speaker at the Summit. The award is in recognition of his 2019 book, The Grand Canyon: Unseen Beauty — Running the Colorado River. Blagden’s work has previously focused on Maine, Costa Rica, and South Carolina. His photographs have appeared in Smithsonian, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer, Nature Conservancy, and Sierra magazines. He is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, has been a NANPA member since its founding, and became a NANPA Fellow in 2009.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo of a male cardinal perched on a branch. A northern cardinal, referred to by my Louisiana family as a red bird, poses for a Valentine’s Day portrait. I used my time in Louisiana over the holidays to practice my backyard bird photography from a blind. I don’t have land in Colorado, so it was a nice change to sit in a blind, and a great way to improve my bird photo skills.
A northern cardinal, referred to by my Louisiana family as a red bird, poses for a Valentine’s Day portrait. I used my time in Louisiana over the holidays to practice my backyard bird photography from a blind. I don’t have land in Colorado, so it was a nice change to sit in a blind, and a great way to improve my bird photo skills.

Story and photos by Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

I hope everyone is surviving and thriving into the New Year. There are certainly signs of hope on the horizon for many aspects of our world. The vaccines are being distributed and the pace of that is picking up. Our new administration has set forth goals to advance environmental justice and listen to science. And the team at NANPA has many, many great things coming in the next few months.

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