North American Nature Photography Association

Connecting The Nature Photography Community


Member Benefits: Annual Summit

The following article appeared in the Mar/Apr 2003 issue of Currents. It was written by a NANPA member and provides a concise overview of the benefits of attending a NANPA Summit from the members' perspective.

NANPA: An Overview of the 2003 Summit

    by Dr. Chris Gamel -

What benefits are there to joining NANPA?
What's in it for me?
Why is it important?

These are the most frequently asked questions I hear when NANPA comes up in conversation. More than 2,400 people find the benefits of NANPA membership to be worthwhile, and each will give you a different set of responses as to why to join. High among them is the annual Summit.

The Summit

In February, some 700 members gathered in Albuquerque to take part in the highlight of the NANPA year, the annual Summit. For five days, we came together to talk about nature photography, share images, meet with old friends, and make new ones. Connie Toops, the master of ceremonies, introduced the Summit theme, “Legacy,” with a look at the legacy of the student scholarship program. We heard from distinguished speakers, including Joel Sartore, Theo Allofs, Mark Moffett, and Gary Braasch. Jim Brandenburg talked about his new project, “Looking for the Summer,” an expansion of “Chased by the Light,” which appeared in National Geographic and as a best selling book.

Hearing the words and seeing the images of some of the world's top nature photographers was only the beginning. Each day, breakout sessions were offered, giving insight into shooting magazine stories, breaking into the children's market, and the all-time favorite: Photoshop for photographers, just to name a few. Between handouts, pages of notes (I filled an entire legal pad), and what is committed to memory, I have enough new tips and techniques to keep me busy for months.

It wasn't all work and meetings. Each day offered a few free hours. The trade show was one popular destination, where photographers could talk to representatives from Canon, Nikon, Kodak, Fuji, and Epson as well as a host of specialty services. Over four Summits, the annual trade show has put me in touch with companies that I continue to use to this day, including Photo Craft Laboratories (slide processing), Mc- Donald Wildlife Photography (photo tours and workshops), Ralph Paonessa Photography (photo tours), Repro Images (the best quality dupes I have seen), B & H Photo (photo equipment), and Hunt's Photo and Video (best film prices and frequent NANPA member specials).

Of course, a gathering of nature photographers, editors, and stock agents wouldn't be complete without networking. This year I decided that I wanted to create as many networking opportunities at the Summit as possible. With this goal in mind, I created promotional packets to hand out to photo buyers. Inside I included a letter of introduction about my company, a complete stock list, and inkjet printouts showing sample images. When finished, I had a professional package that editors could keep and use to remember me.

Carrying promotional material around is not enough. I had to find a way to get my name out to the people I wanted to talk to. For this reason, I participated in the Members' Slide Show and signed up for Editorial and Portfolio Reviews.

At the slide show, an annual program, up to 40 members show 10 images and talk for 3-1/2 minutes. On the first night of the Summit, I found myself talking about animal behavior in front of an audience of several hundred people. For the rest of the week, that presentation was fuel for conversations with a multitude of people who remembered my images, including the ever important title slide which contained my name, website, and company name, Animal Antics.

The next step was to participate in one of the greatest opportunities the NANPA Summit offers its participants – Editorial and Portfolio Reviews. I used the bios NANPA provides in the preliminary program to carefully select reviewers. I spent time with Sharon Cohen-Powers, representative from AGPix; Barry Runk, vice president of the Grant Heilman stock agency; Bonnie Stutski, photo editor for Smithsonian; Melissa Ryan, director of photography at The Nature Conservancy; and Stephen Freligh, publisher of Nature's Best Photography. So, what did I walk away with? A commendation on the quality of my photography from some of the field's top editors and stock agents, recommendations on where to market my work, direction on how to minimize the competition, insight into each editor's particular needs, details about how to fine tune my book proposal, and a request for an article proposal. More importantly, each of these people now has a face to associate with future correspondence and went home with my promotional packet tucked under his or her arm.

For those who came a day early or stayed a day late, a host of all-day workshops on digital photography, writing, book publishing, and negotiating and pricing stock photography were available. And for those who needed to get outside, field trips went to Bosque del Apache and Petroglyph National Monument. While there was no way one person could attend everything, I found George Lepp's digital workshop and Ray Pfortner's book publishing workshop to be two of the most informative and well-organized presentations I have ever been to.

Unfortunately, attending the NANPA Summit is a commitment of time and finances that is beyond the means of some dedicated nature photographers. While I strongly believe that it is worth every penny, the Summit is not always an option. There are plenty of other reasons, however, for being a NANPA member.

For $100 a year, members gain access to affordable equipment insurance that covers our photography gear anywhere in the world. The bimonthly newsletter Currents keeps us up-to-date on association news and views. And the membership directory helps us keep in touch with each other.

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