The North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Showcase Photo Contest. Approximately 2,600 images were submitted from 275 NANPA members. Categories include: 1) Mammals, 2) Birds, 3) Scapes, 4) Macro, Micro, and all other Wildlife, 5) Altered Reality. This year’s judges were William Neill, Joe and Mary Ann McDonald and John Nuhn. There were three top prizes in each of five categories (Best of Show, 1st Runner-Up and Judge’s Choice). Continue reading →
After searching for new and fresh images on federal lands for more than two decades, I can say that there seems to be two types of national parks: those that are heavily visited and those that are too often overlooked in favor of the big names, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone.
One of the less well-known precious gems is Petrified Forest National Park on the eastern edge of Arizona. Weighing in at about 300 square miles, one can easily drive the single road in this compact national treasure from end-to-end in less than half a day. Ah, but then you would be missing all the fun!
President Theodore Roosevelt invoked the Antiquities Act to create Petrified Forest National Monument in 1906 to protect enormous fossilized trees that have actually been turned into brilliant multicolored stone by some 220 million years of water, heat and pressure. The Petrified Forest became a national park in 1962. The park is a treasure trove of the fossilized bones and remains of dinosaurs and other Triassic creatures—such as the recently discovered skull of a phytosaur named Gumby. A trip here can be a fascinating experience for anyone. Continue reading →
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.
Students pose for me before we start shooting in the garden.
Teaching teenagers is both challenging and incredibly fulfilling. Challenging because you are competing against their unformed brains, their increased awareness, and the distraction of the opposite sex as well as today’s “must have” electronic devices. If teens aren’t fully engaged in what you are teaching, you can forget about it. I had worked with only adults for the past 30-plus years, so when I started working with teenagers four years ago, I had a lot to learn about teaching. (More on the fulfilling part later.)
One of my favorite workshops to give is photographing the winter holiday lights display at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. What seems like millions of lights are hung over the entire garden, and each year carries a different theme. What I love about this workshop is that you can throw caution to the wind and just have fun working with color and long exposures to create wild and exciting images that are always a surprise. There is a lot of laughing and sharing, and teenagers and adults alike enjoy the heck out of it.
This is a new monthly opinion column by photographer Gordon Illg about what inspires nature photographers and why nature photographers do what they do. Check back next month for the next installment! And please check out more of Gordon’s work at: http://www.advenphoto.com.
If you’re like me, you receive many, many petitions to sign. Well, one of the latest expressed the view that people should totally stay away from some sensitive parts of the planet just to better protect them. Their stance was that even ecotourism was too much pressure for some parts of the world, and they used both Antarctica and the Galapagos in their list of candidates that should remain totally people free. The petitioners felt that we would be better off reading about these places rather than experiencing them for ourselves. I did not sign that petition. In fact, my response was…how can I put this delicately? “What a crock!”
I live in Wyoming. Anyone who has visited the state knows it has a lot of open space. What many people don’t realize is that the area in which I live – the northwest part of Wyoming – is almost always drier and more temperate than that to the south. So when I finished several days of meetings in Casper a couple years ago, I was anxious to make the 5-hour drive home to my own bed despite the dire warnings of an incoming snow storm. I knew that if I could make it the hundred miles across the sagebrush plains and then north through Wind River Canyon, I would probably leave the worst of the winter weather behind me. Before leaving the city, I consciously packed my camera gear in the back of the car, not wanting the temptation to stop along the way.
When I presented my project on rewilding at the recent San Diego NANPA Summit, it was a Lightning Talk, so I only had six minutes to address the audience. I did not have time to explain a bit more about why I started a photo project about releasing animals back into the wild. It stems in part from spending years working on another project, which deals with less fortunate animals living in captivity. After photographing animals who had lost all freedom, I felt the need to experience animals returning to nature. But still, the project I call “Captive” is a quest I feel passionate about, especially as I have seen my photos play an integral role in the current public discourse over reforming and rethinking zoos.
Like many of us, my love of photography began with the wild landscape. My early years were spent emulating icons like Ansel Adams, David Muench and Eliot Porter. I followed the grand landscape dream all over the American West, and after years of chasing light and doing “pure” landscapes with no signs of humanity whatsoever, I began to feel a little boxed in, as if I was repeating my favorite lighting formulas everywhere I went, and missing something I could sense, but not see. Continue reading →
I am often asked if it’s possible to make a living as a nature photographer. No matter whether you attempt to do it as a full-time professional or a part-timer to supplement income from an existing job, there are many things to consider. Nature photography is a tough way to make a living. However if you do it right, you can make it work.
Both full-time and part-time photographers need to remember and understand these concepts:
You need to get really (and I mean really) good as a photographer. This takes many years of working hard. As the late, great Henri Cartier-Bresson famously observed, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Be prepared to spend as much or more time in your office as in the field.
You must deal with rejection.
Full-time photographers can add these to the list:
If no one buys your work or attends your workshops, you don’t eat.
You have to know your market and change when necessary.
Develop business savvy.
Be able to justify expenditures such as travel, equipment and extensive marketing (website, social etc.).
Part-time Photographer Continue reading →
Before the chilly fingers of winter tighten their icy grip and close in on some of the northern national parks, consider a trip to the Rockies. Rocky Mountain National Park is just under two hours from Denver International Airport. The resort town of Estes Park, Colorado, is the perfect gateway to the park, which is known affectionately by many as “Rocky.” With a good choice of lodgings, Estes makes the perfect base for your trip. Wherever you stay, try to save an hour to stroll through the historic Stanley Hotel. Continue reading →