The Nature Photographer episode #10 on Wild & Exposed podcast
Wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas may occasionally get to choose from two dream jobs: jet off to Costa Rica to photograph a baby sloth born in a wine bar or jet off to Botswana to photograph a litter of newborn meerkats. But most of the time she’s waiting, putting all the pieces in place, and quietly nurturing something to fruition—whether that means staring at a termite mound for 10 days waiting for a baby to appear, working a big cat subject for two months straight, or building a book project over the course of several years.
Now she’s set her sights on making change in the nature photography industry, mentoring young female photographers through Girls Who Click, supporting gender and racial diversity in the field, and raising more than $200,000 to support conservation projects throughout the world. Join Dawn Wilson, Ron Hayes, Jason Loftus, and Suzi to hear more about these projects, how Suzi maintains her motivation, and why, as she puts it, “If you’re not learning, your career is done.”
Each of us is drawn to nature photography for our own personal reasons. Some for commercial reasons — to make money. Others because they enjoy sitting in the peace and quiet of nature, waiting for beautiful light. Still others who perhaps enjoy the thrill of capturing animal behavior in front of their very eyes. For me, at the beginning, it was all of the above but, as I spent more time in the field and grew older, it became more about being a champion for innocent and beautiful creatures who needed protecting from, ironically, humans like me. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s easy to see the effects of the COVID-19 virus on humans, but it is also significantly affecting the animal kingdom.
I was a participant in the 2017 NANPA High School Scholarship Program and spent a week in the Great Smoky Mountains working with some incredible mentors, broadening my interests in photography and learning from some very talented kids my age as well. This program was a turning point for me–it showed me just how much I want to inspire the younger generation to learn more about conservation and photography. Working with and learning from 9 other students from across the country was not what I expected it to be. I had assumed we would all stick to the certain aspects of photography we were comfortable with, but instead we all motivated each other to try a little bit of everything. During that week in the Smokies, I got to experiment with flash and night photography and use some of the cameras, lenses, and flashes that Canon sent to as loaners. I now have knowledge of the settings to use for star and night photography, something that will definitely come in handy for me in the future. We also hiked out to a waterfall and attempted slow motion waterfall photos to capture the blur of the water. Using the loaner flashes, we also found little salamanders and toads and used white backgrounds for the “Meet Your Neighbors” technique that Andrew Snyder, one of the mentors, taught us. Some of the kids were so in love with this new technique, it was all they did!
Do you know a talented young nature photographer? NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program is seeking 10 high school student photographers to attend a five-day field event where they can learn from the industry’s top shooters. Apply now for this immersive, hands-on education program to be held in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park July 6–11, 2020. Combining classroom and field-based instruction, students will have the chance to improve their nature photography skills, learn about NANPA, meet industry professionals, and gain an appreciation of the Smoky Mountains’ rich natural history. The NANPA Foundation funds this and other educational programs. January 31, 2020 is the last day to apply, so don’t wait. Apply now! This article was originally published in January, 2019.
NANPA’s members are in for a rare treat next week! On October 10th, at 6 PM Eastern Time, award-winning wildlife photographer and Greenpeace ambassador Roie Galitz will share breathtaking stories and footage from his wild expeditions and will teach us how to get incredible shots in the most extreme conditions. This special event will not be recorded, so make your plans now to attend the live webcast! NANPA members can register through nanpa.org/webinars. Not yet a member? nanpa.org/join
In 2010, as part of the International League of Conservation Photographers’ Chesapeake Bay RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition), I found myself on the Anacostia River in Washington DC. The Anacostia is one of the most imperiled watersheds within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a sprawling eco-region spanning most of the Mid-Atlantic. The Anacostia is also my home watershed, where the water that drains off my house and yard ends up.
It was 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday in May—the
wind was biting cold and the sky a deep royal blue. All bundled up, I hoist my
heavy camera case into the truck and my husband and I head straight west out of
the small town of Meeker, Colorado. The sun wouldn’t rise until 5:50 a.m., so
we had plenty of time to get into position. But first, we had to find them.
Carol Grenier’s interest in nature photography really took off with her first full-time job, a seasonal appointment as a surveyor in Yellowstone National Park which she calls, “the best job I ever had: working outdoors in a beautiful setting with abundant opportunities for recreation and nature photography.” Exposure to the stunning landscapes and wildlife of the western United States inspired a passion to capture the beauty of nature ever since. In recent years her images have been recognized in NANPA’s Expressions, Nature’s Best magazine, Audubon, and Denver Audubon.
Crowds of tourists and photographers start to gather by Delicate Arch hours before sunset.
Story & photo by Frank Gallagher
Where do you draw the line between access and preservation? At what point does introducing a larger number of visitors to the wonders of nature start to endanger that very nature? It’s a tough call and one that land owners, government agencies and photographers are facing every day.
This is my last blog as NANPA president, the end of a year of maundering over the past, present and future of nature photography. It turns out my fear that the organization would suffer under my leadership, or lack thereof, was unfounded, just as many of my fears are. Not only is NANPA doing well, but its membership has reached a new high point. It’s tempting for me to take credit for our success, but the truth is I’m riding on the coattails of an incredible herd/school/pride/pod of talented and hard-working staff and volunteers. Without them I would have been president of nothing, and I’m extremely grateful for my addiction to nature photography if for no other reason than it introduced me to these wonderful people who have guided and supported me.
Laura M. Eppig is a mostly self taught Nature Photographer who learned on slide film in the late ’80’s. She was invited to join a Camera Club in order to learn Bird Photography and was mentored by 3 of the founding members. While Laura shoots the majority of her images close to home, she has been known to travel far afield in search of certain elusive subjects, specifically Owls.
Laura finds that she can combine most of her interests through photography. Hiking and bird watching are two of her passions that nature photography encompasses. Macro photography is one of her special interests, especially shooting insects and spiders. Library Exhibits, as well as other types of displays, and Photography Classes keep her busy in addition to photographing whenever possible.