A Day of Service

Volunteers cleaning a beach. Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash.
Volunteers cleaning a beach. Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash.

The next time you’re out in the wild, enjoying our parks and state and federal lands, spend a moment in gratitude for the often unseen and unglamorous work that makes your visit possible. And it might just be one of your friends or neighbors you have to thank for the smooth trails you walk or the trash-free landscape you photograph. The National Park Service, with an unfunded maintenance backlog of almost $12 billion, relies on a lot of volunteers to maintain trails and help make visitors’ experience pleasant. Many state and local parks are also chronically underfunded and reliant on volunteers.

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The Many Flavors of Conservation Photography

The Rock Creek Conservancy is partnering with the National Park Service and working with the local community to strategically restore five sites ("mini-oases") within Rock Creek Park.

The Rock Creek Conservancy is partnering with the National Park Service and working with the local community to strategically restore five sites (“mini-oases”) within Rock Creek Park.

Story & photo by Frank Gallagher

When we think of conservation photography, we often have in mind images of the grand and majestic:  elephants, whales and tigers; the Grand Canyon, glaciers and coral reefs.  You don’t have to be a well-known photographer like Joel Sartore or Florian Schulz, or work with National Geographic or the Sierra Club to have an impact.  Those are all important, to be sure, but not everything has to be charismatic megafauna, epic landscapes, famous names or mass media.  There are also many opportunities for conservation photography in the small, in the local and in the mundane.  Sometimes, opportunity is knocking in places you’ve come to take for granted.

I was thinking about that recently, during a project for Nature Photography Day.

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Has Instagram Changed Your Photography? Part 2

@nanpapix on Instagram

Are you following @nanpapix on Instagram?

A while back, we asked a cross section of NANPA members whether Instagram and its social media cousins had changed anything about their nature photograph and, if so, how.  Did it change their approach to photography, to sharing images, to marketing their business?  Did it change the type of images they created or the way they processed images?  We’ll continue posting the answers in a series of blogs over the next few weeks.

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The Black Bear Project

How do you live safely around bears? Ask the Black Bear Project.

How do you live safely around bears? Ask the Black Bear Project.

Something interesting is happening in the wooded hills of northern Georgia. Thanks to the Black Bear Project, people and bears are learning to peacefully live together and avoid dangerous situations.  NANPA member Mary Jo Cox has been involved in this project and gave us the story.

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Has Instagram Changed Your Photography?

@nanpapix on Instagram

Are you following @nanpapix on Instagram?

We recently asked a cross section of NANPA members whether Instagram and its social media cousins had changed anything about their nature photograph and, if so, how.  Did it change their approach to photography, to sharing images, to marketing their business?  Did it change the type of images they created or the way they processed images?  We’ll be posting the answers in a series of blogs over the next few weeks.

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© Don Smith

Gary Hart is a professional nature photographer, writer and educator who has been exploring, photographing and sharing nature’s beauty for nearly 40 years. Gary is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and a frequent contributor to Outdoor Photographer magazine. His book of images, The Undiscovered Country, was featured exclusively at Barnes & Noble stores across the United States. Gary’s blog is followed by thousands of readers, and his always sold-out photo workshops often fill a year in advance. Visit Gary’s website at www.EloquentImages.com; his blog at www.EloquentNature.com; his prints at www.GaryHartPrints.com. Gary’s Yosemite workshops can be found at www.PhotographYosemite.com Continue reading

From Jersey to Italy

Story and photography by David DesRochers

Budoia, Italy © David DesRochers

Budoia, Italy © David DesRochers

It was September of 2006 when I walked into a Tri-County Camera Club meeting in Nutley, New Jersey to judge my first photo competition. As a member of my own camera club, I had spent the previous six years listening attentively to other judges score and critique our own competition entries, some even offering suggestions on how to improve them. Not all judges are created equal and I didn’t always agree with what they had to say but I developed a thick skin and used many of their suggestions to help improve my own work.   And now it was my turn in the hot seat. Continue reading

How the NANPA Program Impacted Me

Story and Photography by Jorel Cuomo

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.52.49 PMWhen I attended NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program (NHSSP) in 2004 in Portland, my eyes opened to exploring wildlife photography as a medium. I greatly benefited from the one-on-one instruction and support of fellow photographers, both peers and mentors. Before attending this program, I never knew all this support existed; I felt that I was exploring nature and my camera by myself. Being a scholarship winner gave me the opportunity to harness my potential. Being surrounding by world-class photographers that shared their knowledge and experience opened my eyes to the possibilities that awaited me in our magnificent world.

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© Jill Stanley Leach

© Jill Stanley Leach

John Nuhn is the former photography director of National Wildlife magazine, the flagship award-winning publication of the National Wildlife Federation. He also served as photo editor of NW’s sister publication, International Wildlife, until its demise in 2002. The two magazines earned 35 photography awards during John’s tenure. John left NWF in 2013 to pursue personal projects. Early in his career, he was assistant editor, associate editor and later managing editor of a small Wisconsin book publishing company. A self-taught photographer and former U.S. Navy officer, John holds a degree in journalism from Marquette University. He is a founder of NANPA and served as its president. He also served as president of the NANPA Foundation and continues on that board as a trustee. John is a charter affiliate member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) and a past national board member and chapter president of the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP). He has been a speaker, panelist and judge at numerous forums, including many NANPA Summits and the NANPA Showcase competition, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s conference on nature photography, Maine Photo Workshops, Valley Land Fund competitions, Photography at the Summit, Guilfoyle Report Photo Awards, International Wildlife Film Festival, Images for Conservation Fund’s Pro-Tour competition, FotoWeekDC, the Lucie Awards, Photo District News competitions and Outdoor Writers Association conferences.

Do you have a “day” job? What do you do?

Some people can say I’ve retired, but since leaving NWF, I’ve been pretty busy. My day job now consists of working on my own projects and continuing volunteer efforts for NANPA and iLCP. One of my big personal projects is scanning and adding metadata for the thousands of transparencies, negatives and prints currently sitting disorganized in my closet. Most of these go back to my junior high days, and my university is interested in those from my college years. But there are also hundreds of images made by my father and other relatives, essentially the family archives. The earliest images I’ve come across are prints of my maternal grandfather as a one-year-old in 1891, and my paternal grandmother with her family in 1894. My hope is to have these images available for current and future family members, assuming tiff files will still be readable then.

Also, I now have a role as househusband since Shirley continues to teach and do freelance jobs. I’m getting work done around the house that I couldn’t do when I was on the magazine staff. And I’m enjoying more outdoor activities during the week, not just on weekends.

How have you been involved in NANPA or the NANPA Foundation?

Over the years I’ve served in many roles, because I wanted NANPA to be a success. In October 1993, I was invited to participate as a panelist in the first-ever nationwide gathering of nature photographers, editors, agents and enthusiasts. The conference was organized by Roger Tory Peterson and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York. At the meeting’s conclusion, a group of us met to discuss starting a nature photography association.

Through some conference calls and a constructive meeting in Denver over the next few months, NANPA was formed. I was one of the founding board members and also served on the first elected board. Following Mark Lukes and the late Jane Kinne, I was named NANPA’s third president.

At the Summits I’ve been a major speaker and an emcee, as well as serving as a panelist or moderator numerous times. Portfolio reviewing was an important part of my job, and I’ve been a reviewer at every Summit except 2010 in Reno, when the mid-Atlantic received a number of back-to-back snowstorms and I couldn’t get out of my neighborhood. It’s the only Summit I’ve missed.

In 1998, I served as acting editor of Currents for a few issues, and I’ve been a judge for the Showcase competition.

In the early days of NANPA, one of the roles of the past-president was to join the NANPA Foundation’s Board of Trustees so that the Foundation could benefit from the experience of past presidents. I became a trustee in 1999 and remain on the board today. I was elected the Foundation’s third president, once more following Mark Lukes and Jane Kinne. I believe the Foundation, as a 501(c)3 organization, can have a real impact on NANPA’s educational efforts through funding from corporations and individual donors such as all of us members.

What NANPA committees have you served on–when, and what positions and responsibilities have you assumed?

Many of the founding board members also served as chairs of the newly formed committees, and I was the first chair of the Membership Committee. I also joined the Ethics Committee, helping to draft the Ethics of Field Practices and the Truth in Captioning statement. And I joined the Communications Committee at the time, and later the History Committee, which I currently chair.

As president, I was very involved in the 1999 San Diego Summit. I joined the Summit Committee the following year to help in planning and in putting together brochures. I stayed on the committee for 12 years. I took on the task of pre- and post-Summit chair for the 2002 Summit, and was program chair for the 2003 Summit and co-chair for the 2004 Summit.

What was it about your involvement in NANPA that interested you most?

The nature photography industry in North America sorely needed an organization to promote and advocate for nature photography, to educate those interested in improving their photography, and provide better communication among the various parts of the industry. None of this existed prior to 1994. I also saw NANPA as a means to establish some standards regarding business, marketing and ethics.

What were your greatest accomplishments for NANPA?

Two of the earliest decisions made by the founding board during our discussion in Jamestown were to call it a “photography” association, because it was not meant to be only for photographers, and that it include all of North America. The idea was to make NANPA inclusive. I’ve watched it evolve through the years, surviving financial and other problems that face nearly every new organization. It has attracted attention and members outside North America. I hope that my efforts have helped it grow.

How long have you been a NANPA member?

I’m a charter member, joining in 1994.

Do you have a goal as it pertains to NANPA or a committee you work on?

As a student of history, I believe NANPA’s Oral History Project may well be its lasting achievement. Members of the History Committee have completed 22 oral histories thus far, including interviews with industry legends and leaders such as Jim Brandenburg, Ann Guilfoyle, Philip Hyde, Jane Kinne, George Lepp, Les Line, David Muench, Boyd Norton, Leonard Lee Rue and Art Wolfe. Their oral histories represent an important legacy of their work and impact on nature photography.

VOLUNTEERS: Joe and Mary Ann McDonald


Mary Ann and Joe McDonald are professional wildlife photographers who, together, lead photography tours around the world and teach photo workshops at their home, Hoot Hollow, in central Pennsylvania. Their images appear in many national and international nature magazines, calendars and books. Mary Ann is the author of 29 natural history children’s books. She has gone to many elementary schools as a visiting author and has written a coffee table book on the Amish. Joe is the author of six how-to photography books. He is co-author of a book on digital nature photography with Mary Ann and fellow photographer Rick Holt, and he and Mary Ann have written a book and produced a video for Photographing on Safari. Joe has written several coffee table books on jaguars and tigers and is currently writing books on Indian wildlife, creatures of the night, world’s deadliest creatures and camouflage in nature. Mary Ann’s photography awards include two first-place awards and several other awards in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, first place in the Nature’s Best Photography competition and first place in the old AGFA competition in South Africa. Joe has won first place in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition as well as several second and third places. This will be Mary Ann and Joe’s 28th year leading photo safaris to East Africa, and next year they will celebrate 100 treks to Rwanda to photograph the mountain gorillas. Joe became a NANPA Fellow in 2002 and Mary Ann in 2010. (Note: The following questions were answered by Mary Ann.)

Do you have a “day” job? What do you do?

We are full-time professional wildlife and nature photographers who have been doing this together for 28 years now. We teach photo workshops at our house, Hoot Hollow, in central Pennsylvania. We lead photo tours around the world. We sell images both through photo stock agencies and out of our office. We give evening lectures to different organizations as well as public lectures on wildlife photography, ecotourism and conservation issues, such as saving biodiversity. We write magazine articles as well as photography how-to books, coffee table books and natural history books for children. As you can see, wildlife and nature photography is our passion, our life, our career and just about everything for us.

How have you been involved in NANPA?

Joe is a founding member of NANPA and we are both NANPA Fellows. Joe has been on the Board of Directors and has taught workshops at some of the Summits. We were keynote speakers at one Summit, and I was the Master of Ceremonies at several. I’ve hosted both a live auction and a silent auction at the Summits, and I’ve had the privilege to auction off Jane Kinne’s favorite jacket. Both Joe and I helped to mentor the high school students by spending a day with them at several different Summits. We also worked with the college students by volunteering to look over their portfolios at a Summit. I helped to research and draft a proposal for NANPA way back when the airlines were changing their checked luggage policies. We both helped with a regional event in San Diego a few years back.

What were your greatest accomplishments or the highlights thus far of what you have done for NANPA?

Even though we were never on a committee (due to our hectic travel schedule), we’ve helped with projects throughout the years on a more unofficial level. Working with the high school kids was a highlight for us. We both love teaching, so we felt that working with the students was one of the most rewarding things we have ever volunteered to do with NANPA. Their talent was unbelievable and their ideas were so refreshing, so real and so passionate. It was fun to teach them different photography techniques and watch the light bulb go off and then for them to take the concept, the new technique, and take off with it to make it their own by creating some unique images. We usually worked with them in regards to flash photography. It was challenging but very rewarding as well.

MA-lucy-choc_COLOR-450x300Give me a stage and I am happy! It was fun emceeing the Summits and getting to meet some of my photography idols and then to introduce them to the crowd. I loved getting crazy and doing whatever it took for the cause. I played Marilyn Monroe at the silent auction, and for $100 I sang Happy Birthday to the highest bidder just like Marilyn did to JFK. I wore 22 or so items of clothing for the live auction and for every $500 we made, I took off an item. Luckily I didn’t have to go down to my bathing suit, but it was close. And of course there was the time I channeled some of Lucille Ball’s best comedic moments for my introduction.

Another of Joe’s accomplishments was serving on the Board of Directors.

How long have you been a NANPA member?

Joe is a founding member and I joined either in year two or three.

Do you have a goal as it pertains to NANPA?

As I said, we love to teach and want to continue to share our knowledge. Joe and I hope to be able to help with more regional events. We would like do a workshop at the next Summit or, wishful thinking, another keynote speech. We are hoping to have the time to do a webinar for the NANPA membership. And yes, I would love to emcee again sometime. It’s so much fun to get everybody revved up for a great Summit and to keep that energy going throughout. Who knows, maybe someday one of us will serve on the board again.