VOLUNTEER: Margaret Gaines

mg headshot

© Margaret Gaines

Margaret Gaines is a mom and a jewelry designer in addition to being a nature photographer. She is based in Alaska, and her focus is on Alaska’s nature. Margaret also covers remnants of the state’s history being reclaimed by nature. 

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

For the past five years my primary day job has been “Mom.” I do the traditional activities of cooking, cleaning, running errands and being there to support my kids when they need me. I maintain my sanity by escaping with my camera whenever I can. I’ve also been working on a master’s degree in biology for just as long with the hope that it will enhance my photography and possibly lead to regular employment when and if the time is right. 

Can you tell us how you have been involved in NANPA?

I joined NANPA in 2010 so I could connect with and learn from the nature photography community. From the beginning I chose to find ways to be involved. I jumped right in and helped coordinate the portfolio reviews in McAllen (2011) and Jacksonville (2013), and the opening event with the Jacksonville Symphony. My attendance at the Summits was a burden on my family, and since I knew I had to spend more time improving my own photography, I stepped down after the Jacksonville Summit. However, I had met Sharon Cohen-Powers during portfolio reviews in McAllen, and after Jacksonville I started to help proofread Currents, then Expressions and eNews, which I continue to do.

Do you feel you have learned something from your volunteering? Explain.

I’ve learned a lot about photography and the industry from being involved with NANPA. Coordinating portfolio reviews required that I work with professionals in the nature photography industry, and I also had the chance to talk with a variety of photographers while they waited for their reviews. I heard many stories from all sides about the industry and about being a better photographer. It gave me a lot of information to draw from when deciding whether I wanted to go down the path towards selling and sharing my photography or doing it as a hobby.

How are you involved in photography?

My photography primarily revolves around Alaska. I rarely leave the state, so I concentrate on nature photography and “abandonscapes” (ruins) near home in south-central Alaska. When I travel in-state, I go either north towards Denali or south to the ocean along the Kenai Peninsula or Juneau area. Traveling out of state for my photography is just a dream at the moment. I am particularly drawn to intertidal invertebrates, intimate landscapes, macro and abstracts, although I never turn down the opportunity to shoot wildlife or grand landscapes either. I also really enjoy photographing the old buildings, cars, trucks, farm machinery and mining equipment that is scattered around here. I recently started submitting my images to Danita Delimont Stock Photography, and they should be showing up in searches soon.

As much as I enjoy working on photos on the computer, I long to make things with my hands, too, so I designed a line of jewelry that features my photographs. For the past couple of years I have sold photographic prints and jewelry using my images at local sales venues. I love seeing people’s reactions when they look closely at my jewelry and find something they recognize or that captures a special memory for them.

I plan to continue all these things in the future, especially since I need to stay close to home while I go through treatment for breast cancer.

Do you have a goal as it pertains to NANPA?

I would love to attend more Summits and Regional Events in the future as well as attend more local Meetup events. I would like to take on more of a leadership role, but at this point, I don’t know what or when that will be.