North American Nature Photography Association

Connecting The Nature Photography Community


NANPA's History -

This is a timeline of events that chronicles NANPA's formation and growth. There is a separate timeline for the NANPA Foundation history.

October 1-3, 1993 - More than 100 devotees of nature photography, including many of the leading figures in the business, are invited by famed ornithologist, artist and nature photographer Roger Tory Peterson to gather at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York. Their aim is to discuss the future of nature photography. By the end of the meeting, there is a consensus that the field needs some type of organization to represent its interests and promote communication and education. A core of attendees interested in forming an association meets informally to set up plans. Two important tenets are established: that the new association will be for nature photography, not restricted to photographers, and that it will represent all of North America, not just the United States. Several names for the new association are considered. RTPI volunteers to handle donations to assist in the formation of the association.

January 1994 - A smaller group of 16 holds a teleconference, which sets in motion formal organizing efforts. The name North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) is chosen. An association management and consulting firm in Colorado (The Resource Center for Associations) is selected to help form the new association.

February-March 1994 - Two more teleconferences are held and NANPA is incorporated as a non-profit, 501(c)6 corporation in New York and Colorado.

April 22-23, 1994 - NANPA's founding Board of Directors meets for the first time at its new headquarters at The Resource Center in Wheat Ridge, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, to make critical decisions about the directions the fledging association must take. Founding Board members are Roger Archibald, Karen Beshears, Gary Braasch, Karen Hollingsworth, Jane Kinne, Russ Kinne, Frans Lanting, George Lepp, Helen Longest-Slaughter, Aileen Lotz, Mark Lukes, John Nuhn, Jim Saba, Gil Twiest, and Rick Zuegel. The Board adopts a mission statement; approves bylaws; sets up the Education, Environment, Ethics, Membership, Summit and Communications committees with various Board members as chairs; selects a logo; decides to hold a national Summit in January 1995; initiates a membership brochure; establishes member categories and fees; and takes other actions. Photo lab owner Mark Lukes is voted by the Board to be NANPA's founding president, based on his leadership during the initial months.

July 1994 - The first issue of Currents, NANPA's newsletter, is published and distributed to the growing membership. News releases are sent to the photo trade media, wildlife and environmental media and other publications announcing the formation of NANPA and plans for NANPA's First Nature Photography Summit to be held January 13-15, 1995, in Ft. Myers, Florida.

October 1994 - NANPA's membership grows to 860, twice the number that the association's organizers had estimated.

January 12, 1995 - Following earlier discussion about the need for a 501(c)3 organization to receive funding for youth programs, Board member Helen Longest-Slaughter moves that NANPA establish such a foundation. Board later approves motion, the beginning of the NANPA Foundation.

January 13-15, 1995 - More than 500 photographers, editors, photo agents and others involved in the field of nature photography attend NANPA's first Nature Photography Summit in Ft. Myers, Florida. The conference, later called the most significant gathering ever of nature photographers, features Dewitt Jones, Frans Lanting, George Lepp, Galen Rowell, Art Wolfe and other notable presenters and panelists. NANPA's Education Committee arranges for a number of high school youths from around the country to attend the Summit, meet Roger Tory Peterson and other top nature photography specialists, and learn hands-on photo tips; students later show the results of their work, which attendees highly praise.

February 1995 - Analysis of the Ethics Survey, conducted by NANPA's Ethics Committee during the January Summit, shows wide agreement on a variety of questions dealing with the field ethics of nature photography.

March 1995 - NANPA issues an Action Alert to the membership advising of proposed U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule making which could potentially result in fees being charged to individual photographers for access to BLM lands. Scores of NANPA members write letters to BLM stating their objection to the fees. BLM begins a dialog with NANPA leadership and requests responses on the proposed regulations.

May 1995 - NANPA holds its first elections for the Board of Directors.

June 1995 - NANPA ends its first year with more than 1,400 members. The first elected Board of Directors meets and selects Mark Lukes to continue in his role as NANPA's president.

November-December 1995 - NANPA conducts an Environmental Survey to determine member views on a number of issues involving photography and the environment.

December 2, 1995 - The Rocky Mountain Nature Photography Forum is held in Denver, the first regional conference with NANPA sponsorship. Attended by more than 100 photographers, the highly successful forum is designed in part to test the concept of regional NANPA meetings.

January 1996 - NANPA's newsletter Currents is changed from a quarterly to a bimonthly publication.

February 1-4, 1996 - NANPA's second annual Summit, titled Photographing the Americas, draws more than 700 to San Diego and is called even more successful than the first. The Summit features a NANPA Member Image Display, a much-enlarged Trade Show, additional youth education activities for the students, portfolio reviews, and several other programs that were added at the request of those who attended the previous Summit. The Ethics Committee finalizes Principles of Ethical Field Practices, which is approved by the Board for member and public distribution. National Park Service (NPS) official releases a document explaining the agency's view of low-impact nature photography in national park areas.

May 1996 - NANPA creates the NANPA Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 foundation to advance awareness and appreciation of the environment through photography and education. The founding Board of Trustees includes Mark Lukes as president, Rick Zuegel and Karen Hollingsworth.

May 17, 1996 - Four NANPA members, including president Mark Lukes, represent NANPA at a roundtable discussion on ways to improve the operation of the National Wildlife Refuge System. NANPA is the only photography organization invited to the conference by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

May 18, 1996 - The Second Rocky Mountain Nature Photography Forum, sponsored by NANPA, draws more than 130 nature photographers to Denver's Natural History Museum.

June 1996 - NANPA ends its second year with more than 1,700 members.

July 1996 - The association issues an Action Alert on the proposed new rules on the permit system governing nature photography in Denali National Park. Many NANPA members respond with letters to the National Park Service.

Three newly elected Board members begin their terms. Longtime agent and photography consultant Jane Kinne becomes NANPA's second president.

NANPA formally goes on the World Wide Web with a site containing membership, Summit and other information. Soon after, it establishes a presence in the online communities of CompuServe and America Online.

July 28, 1996 - Roger Tory Peterson, who was regarded as the "father" of NANPA, dies in his sleep at home in Connecticut.

November 1996 - NANPA's newsletter Currents explores the controversial issue of image labeling - the labeling of images as wild or captive, images made in controlled conditions, and images altered by computer or in the darkroom. The Ethics Committee receives numerous letters voicing various viewpoints on the issue.

January 16-19, 1997 - Partnerships, NANPA's third annual Summit in Corpus Christi, Texas, draws more than 600 attendees. New this year are the Pros' Meeting, NANPA Foundation Silent Auction, and a greatly expanded NANPA Bookstore. Trade Show exhibits double, portfolio reviews are increased, and another group of youthful nature photographers learns from top photography pros. During the Summit, representatives of the National Park Service invite NANPA to meet with them in discussions toward a partnership. NANPA conducts a Professional Photographers Survey to better gauge what pro members feel about important issues that NANPA is addressing.

February 1997 - The NANPA Summit Bookstore is expanded to a year-round program.

March 1997 - NANPA institutes a Fax-on-Demand system through which members and others may request a variety of printed materials to be sent to them via automated fax ordering.

April 1997 - The Board of Directors adopts Legislative Advocacy Guidelines. Expanding programs, benefits and services create a need for NANPA's first dues increase. The Board forms an Exhibitors' Council to provide advice and counsel on Summit Trade Shows. Sponsorship/partnering guidelines for developing activities with other organizations and associations are approved by the Board. Exploration of partnerships with governmental and private agencies begins.

April 12, 1997 - A successful Florida Nature Photography Forum, sponsored by NANPA, attracts more than 90 attendees to Naples, Florida.

May 1997 - The Environment Committee issues three informational pamphlets on photography and the environment.

July 1997 - A new corporate membership category, called Friends of NANPA, is established to provide more opportunity for individuals and smaller businesses to support the association. NANPA forms an Advisory Council to assist in making prudent plans and decisions. First members of the Council are:

  • Howard Baker, former U.S. Senator and nature photographer
  • James Berry, educator and director of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute
  • Frans Lanting, freelance wildlife and nature photographer and a NANPA founder
  • David Lyman, photography educator and founder and director of the Maine Photographic Workshops.

October 8, 1997 - NANPA signs Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, its first with any organization or agency, at a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. MOU is the start of a number of projects to benefit nature photography in the national wildlife refuges.

January 14-18, 1998 - NANPA's fourth annual Summit, called Photography to the Extreme, draws more than 600 attendees to Haines City, Florida, and is ranked as NANPA's best. The 1998 NANPA Awards are presented and the first recipients of the new Fellows Program receive their pins. New NANPA officers are elected and new Board members are installed. Photo Editor John Nuhn becomes NANPA's third president. A NANPA ad-hoc committee develops carry-on luggage travel tips in light of proposed new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

February 20, 1998 - Letter on NANPA's Carry-On Luggage Policy is sent to the Federal Aviation Administration with support from four national and international photo and communications associations in response to proposed carry-on luggage regulations.

February 1998 - The Ethics Committee releases NANPA's Truth in Captioning Statement. NANPA adopts the concept of Masters Classes with specific teaching criteria.

March 1998 - NANPA officially comments to the National Park Service on its proposed revised photo policy. NANPA's Advocacy Committee reviews and, working with the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), responds to three bills in Congress (S.1614, H.2993 and S.1693) to improve the NPS overall. The bills include regulations for permits and fees for commercial filming. NANPA begins exploring programs of mutual interest with officials of the NPS and a possible Statement of Cooperation.

April 1998 - NANPA inaugurates a program to offer equipment insurance to NANPA members.

July 18, 1998 - Two photo seminars are held in Denver as pilots for the proposed Masters Nature Photography Series. Presenters are Robert Sisson and Joe McDonald.

October-December 1998 - Many NANPA members are featured in a 13-part television series, "Nature's Best Photography," on the Outdoor Life Network. The series is sponsored by NANPA corporate member Nikon and the National Wildlife Federation.

November 1998 - NANPA's Web site is redesigned. Additional pages of information and photos are added, including tips from professional photographers.

January 1999 - The Environment Committee creates an Activist's Toolkit for use by members wanting guidance on environmental lobbying. NANPA issues a Statement of Public Land Access detailing its belief that public lands should be open to all photographers without need of any special permits or fees beyond those required of the average visitor, with the exception of photography involving models or products for advertising.

February 3-7, 1999 - Creativity 2000, the fifth annual NANPA Summit, attracts a record attendance of more than 700 members to San Diego. Exhibit space grows, bringing 73 exhibitors, the highest number ever. New this year are Exhibitor Demonstration Sessions, scheduled periods for exhibitors to demonstrate their products and services. Member slide shows debut. New pre- and post-Summit workshops are offered, including an early morning field trip to a wildlife refuge with top pros. The 1999 NANPA Awards and Fellows pins are presented. New officers are elected and new Board members are installed; Larry Richardson becomes NANPA's fourth president. Ethical Field Practices signs are displayed and made available to members for installation on non-Federal lands.

February 1999 - NANPA and its members assist Friends of McNeil River in defeating plans to limit access to McNeil River State Game Sanctuary in Alaska.

February 1999 - The NANPA Board of Directors approves NANPA's Access to Public Lands Statement.

April 10, 1999 - The Second Florida Nature Photography Forum in Naples attracts more than 70 attendees.

June 1999 - A growing NANPA membership nears the 2,000 mark.

September 1999 - NANPA agrees to support the concept of sending a NANPA Board representative to serve on the National Parks Service's Public Advisory Committee.

January 12-16, 2000 - NANPA's sixth annual Summit, titled Biodiversity 2000, is held in Austin, Texas. More than 700 members visit the enlarged Trade Show, featuring 74 exhibitors, and the NANPA Bookstore, enjoy and learn from 21 presentations and seminars, and network with fellow nature photography enthusiasts. Exhibitor Demonstration Sessions are expanded. Six pre- and post-Summit workshops and field trips are held. The 2000 NANPA Awards and six Fellows pins are presented. Bernard Friel becomes NANPA's fifth president, and three new board members are installed. The NANPA Board votes to implement a shift in the funding of the Summit educational programs from NANPA to the NANPA Foundation, starting with a program to obtain grants to the Foundation specifically to fund this objective.

May 26, 2000 - President Bill Clinton signs H.R. 154, which establishes a commercial filming fee structure for photographing on Federal public lands, and guarantees still nature photographers the right to photograph on Federal public lands at no additional fees above those of other visitors (now Public Law 106-206). NANPA joins with ASMP in heralding this long-sought policy that they had worked for more than two years to help pass (see March 1998).

June 2000 - Membership reaches all-time high of nearly 2,200 members, including 49 corporate members.

July, August and October 2000 - NANPA joins ASMP and other photo organizations as Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) in three briefs involving protection of copyright for photographers.

November 2000 - NANPA included as Amicus Curiae in the Tasini case, presented to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

December 2000 - The National Park Service seeks input from NANPA on setting up NPS procedures for implementing Public Law 106-206 (see May 26, 2000) regarding still photography fees.

January 17-21, 2001 - Nearly 700 members attend Odyssey 2001, NANPA's seventh annual Summit and Trade Show in Las Vegas. Attendees network with each other and enjoy 20 presentations and seminars, including a special talk by Gordon Parks, award-winning photographer, film director, writer, composer, and poet. Exhibitor Demonstrations Sessions and the NANPA Bookstore are again expanded. Eight pre- and post-Summit workshops and field trips are offered, including an overnight field trip to Death Valley National Park. The 2001 NANPA Awards and Fellows pins are presented. Three new Board members are installed and photographer Connie Bransilver becomes NANPA's sixth president.

March 2001 - Membership Dues are increased for the second time in NANPA's history from $75 to $90.

June 2001 - Individual and corporate membership grows to more than 2,400.

July 2001 - NANPA introduces a magazine discount subscription program, where members can subscribe to nature photography magazines through NANPA at a discounted rate. Art Wolfe is appointed to the NANPA Advisory Council.

September 2001 - NANPA unveils a redesigned and expanded Web site with more links, photographs and information.

November 2001 - NANPA adopts an "in-kind" services incentive policy for Corporate Members.

January 16-20, 2002 - NANPA's eighth annual Summit and Trade Show, Alternatives 2002, is held in Jacksonville, Florida. More than 600 attendees network and enjoy presentations by artist/photographer Robert Bateman, photo historian Vicki Goldberg, and photographers Michael "Nick" Nichols and Clyde Butcher. Seven pre- and post-Summit workshops and field trips are conducted, including workshops on how to sell to the digital market and how to teach effective photo workshops. NANPA Awards and Fellows pins are presented for 2002. Jim Clark takes office as NANPA's seventh president. Board adopts an environmental statement and a white paper on field conduct, and signs a Memorandum of Understanding with NancyScans for a pilot project to provide members with a portal to make their selected images available for sale.

January 2002 - NANPA's Web site adds more new features, including an online survey, advertising, an FAQ page, a reference handbook and a members' photo library. NANPA's general email address is changed to

April 2002 - NANPA's Board signs a petition to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, expands the member magazine subscription program, creates an ad hoc International Committee, and partners with Discover Life in America to encourage members to participate in the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

July 2002 - NANPA launches a Speakers' Bureau on its Web site and adopts a Web site linking policy.

October 24-27, 2002 - Butterflies, the Border and Beyond, a NANPA regional forum, is held in McAllen, Texas. Attending members take field trips to various locations in the Rio Grande Valley and in Mexico, learning field techniques from leading photographers.

February 19-23, 2003 - Legacy 2003, NANPA's ninth annual Summit and Trade Show, attracts nearly 700 members to the Albuquerque Convention Center. Major speakers include Jim Brandenburg, Joel Sartore, Theo Allofs, Mark Moffett and Gary Braasch. Eight pre- and post-Summit workshops and field trips are held, including two overnight field trips to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and an all-day digital workshop given by George Lepp. Michael Francis becomes NANPA's eighth president.

June 2003 - NANPA initiates a Members Only section on its website, and online registration for all NANPA Summits and forums is now possible.

October 2-5, 2003 - A regional forum held at Rapid City, South Dakota, features instructors Jack Ballard, Michael Francis, Charles Glatzer, Jason Lindsey and Steve Maka. Attendees spend the weekend photographing and learning one-on-one with established pros.

January 21-25, 2004 - NANPA's 10th Anniversary Summit and Trade Show is held in Portland, Oregon. More than 700 attendees enjoy presentations by Norbert Wu and some of the same speakers at the first Summit in Fort Myers-Dewitt Jones, George Lepp and Art Wolfe. A 10th Anniversary Dinner celebrates NANPA's previous decade. Editorial Reviews are initiated to supplement the popular Portfolio Reviews. Four field trips and four workshops are held before and after the Summit. Stephen Maka takes office as NANPA's 10th president.

April 2004 - Members' photo pages on NANPA's website are redesigned and updated, allowing more images to be posted.

July 2004 - The presidents of NANPA and the NANPA Foundation sign a Memorandum of Understanding to solidify and strengthen their relationship.

October 2004 - Chattanooga, Tennessee, hosts the eighth NANPA regional forum, with speakers and instructors Tom and Pat Cory, Byron Jorjorian and Connie Toops. Attendees have their choice of six field trips.

January 19-23, 2005 - More than 600 attend Traditions, NANPA's 11th Summit and Trade Show in Charlotte, North Carolina. Speakers include John Sexton, Tim Laman, Arthur Morris and Kevin Adams. Jim Balog offers a special insight into his work. Popular pre- and post-Summit workshops include all-day sessions on Photoshop and on digital printing. New board members are installed and Darrell Gulin becomes NANPA's 11th president.

April 2005 - NANPA's ninth regional forum draws members to Tucson, where they gather to network, learn techniques, and be inspired by images from speakers Darrell Gulin, Joe and Mary Ann McDonald and Kathy Adams Clark.


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