Volunteers are the life blood of membership organizations. At NANPA and the NANPA Foundation, volunteers serve on committees, help plan conferences, present webinars, judge competitions and evaluate grant applications. Volunteers serve on the Board of Directors and play other key roles in keeping NANPA vibrant, relevant and growing.
This is the first of an occasional series of volunteer profiles, saluting those whose hard work, ideas, passion and commitment benefit NANPA and its members.
NANPA recently had the opportunity to ask Jennifer Leigh Warner a few questions about her volunteer experiences.
Are you a full-time professional photographer or do you have a different “day job”?
I am a full-time conservation photographer. I spend a lot of my time photographing in California, Washington, Wyoming and Florida, creating images for my fine art exhibits, and I travel around the western United States for art festivals. I also work as a photo educator, focusing on topics such as photography ethics and appropriate ways of approaching wildlife.
In addition, I lead private workshops and tours. I work on the staff for the Summit Workshop Series: Nature Workshop held in Jackson, Wyoming, each fall and was recently asked to join Girls Who Click, which encourages teenage girls to consider a career in conservation photography, as a workshop leader.
I do a bit of writing for publications, including a recent article in Outdoor Photographer magazine. Finally, I work with a few conservation organizations, including the Cheetah Conservation Fund and Shoot’em with a Camera, creating content to support the work they are doing to end human-wildlife conflicts.
What types of photography most interest you and why?
I am most interested in photography that tells a story. I highly enjoy photographing wildlife and aim to photograph family dynamics in the animal kingdom. I want to show my audience that animals have private, family lives that we don’t always get a chance to see. I want people to see that the actions we take in an animal’s environment can have dire impacts on those family lives.
I feel that the work I do with human and wildlife conflicts has the most impact on people who view my images. Showing images of photographers approaching wildlife too closely can resonate within those viewers and spur a need to take action.
How long have you been a NANPA member?
I joined NANPA in 2016 and was immediately asked to join the Ethics Committee after sharing my work on Human Impact on Wildlife Behavior with the Committee Chair at the time, Melissa Groo.
How have you been involved in NANPA as a volunteer?
I have volunteered as a webinar host a few times, but the committee I have been most involved with has been the Ethics Committee, on which I serve as Committee Chair. I spoke as a Lightning Talk presenter at the 2017 NANPA Summit in Jacksonville, FL and was a presenter during the 2018 Nature Celebration in Jackson, WY. Both sessions were on wildlife photography ethics.
What was it about this work that most interested you?
Photography ethics and our impact on wildlife behavior have always played an important role in my photography career. Like so many nature photographers, I have witnessed photographers and nature enthusiasts approach wildlife too closely, trample fragile ecosystems and otherwise behave unethically in nature.
I found that the NANPA Ethics Committee gave me a platform to encourage real change within our community and help better educate people on the importance of “leaving no trace” when photographing in nature.
What is the biggest highlight or accomplishment of your service in NANPA?
I have been very fortunate to have several highlights in my short time with NANPA. Speaking about wildlife photography ethics at both the NANPA Summit and the Nature Celebration were wonderful opportunities to get my work in front of a large audience.
The work that we have done at the Ethics Committee has been phenomenal. I am so blessed to be working with such a talented group of passionate photographers on this committee. We have created a comprehensive guideline for Truth in Captioning that I feel has the power to impact real change in the way photo viewers understand photography and how it is created.
We have also been working extremely hard on creating an Ethical Field Practices E-Book that is full of details for photographing each type of subject that a photographer may encounter when out in the field.
Did you have a goal going into your NANPA volunteer experience?
When I was first asked to join the Ethics Committee I thought it would be a great opportunity to network with like-minded photographers on topics that I cared deeply about. I soon realized that the committee could reach a far greater audience than I could do as an individual and that through this committee I could help make a difference in the lives of the wild creatures that we photograph.
Does volunteering have benefits for you?
Working with NANPA has greatly benefited me, both personally and professionally. Having the opportunity to work with such high-caliber and seasoned photographers has taught me so much about how others view the field of photography. NANPA has opened doors for me by providing me with much-needed exposure and collaboration.
Jennifer Leigh Warner is a Fine Art Conservation Wildlife Photographer living in California who specializes in creating meaningful images that convey a message of hope for the natural world. As Ethics Committee Chair for the North American Nature Photography Association, she promotes the ethical practices of photographing wildlife. Jennifer’s work focuses on human-wildlife conflict and she is the founder of the “How Humans Impact Wildlife Behavior” project.
Jennifer works with leading conservation organizations, such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund and Shoot’em with a Camera, which fights against trophy hunting, wildlife trafficking and poaching. She also works as a photo educator, presenting topics on photography ethics and approaching wildlife as well as leads private workshops and tours. Jennifer works on the staff for the Summit Workshop Series: Nature Workshop held in Jackson, Wyoming each fall and recently joined Girls Who Click as a workshop leader, encouraging teenage girls to consider a career in conservation photography.
Jennifer’s work has been featured in photography exhibitions through the United States, and in publications such as Outdoor Photographer magazine, The Wild Within, and National Geographic online.