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.
Dear NANPA Members and Nature Photographers,
As you may know, the United States Forest Service (USFS) has issued proposed policy language pertaining to filming in wilderness areas within the jurisdiction of USFS. (https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-21093)
Those proposed policies, as phrased in the initial proposed policy language and in public comments from USFS officials, raise a number of troubling issues regarding when and why permitting and fees could be required of photographers filming on those lands.
NANPA has long advocated that no photographer should be required to obtain a permit to go anywhere the public may go or to do anything the public in general is allowed to do. Click Here to view NANPA’s 1999 Statement of Public Land Access. NANPA has and will continue to fight for this basic principle with regard to all public lands on behalf of all nature photographers.
Part of NANPA’s mission is to encourage proper stewardship of our nation’s public lands, and NANPA likewise recognizes that there are certain situations in which fees and permits are reasonable, for example, for certain commercial photo shoots and when there may be a high impact to the land itself. But it is not reasonable to impose permits or fees solely because a photographer may in the future license or sell an image taken on those public lands.
The proposed USFS policies do not clearly express these basic principles and need to be clarified. NANPA has actively partnered with other photography associations in communicating a wide variety of concerns to USFS. (You can read a recent letter sent to Chief Tidwell here). The USFS has responded positively to those concerns by letter and recent public statements, but unless and until the proposed policies themselves are clearly revised, photographers could be subjected to very subjective and inconsistent interpretation of those policies by local USFS authorities.
NANPA has drafted an additional and more detailed statement to USFS here (Link to 2nd Statement), which more fully sets out NANPA’s position.
NANPA will continue its direct efforts to influence these proposed policies, but the USFS also needs to hear directly from you, as NANPA members and as dedicated photographers and patrons of the public lands at issue.
How can you help? The public comment periods ends on December 3, 2014, so as soon as possible go to this link and on the right hand side, click Submit a Formal Comment.
Please note that the most effective comments are those that directly address the proposed policies at issue. So while you are free to “vent” broadly, that is not likely to have as much impact as a more specific comment. NANPA does ask that your Comments include the following points (preferably in your own words):
I am a nature photographer and a patron of our nation’s public lands, including USFS wilderness areas. The policies as proposed are overly vague and ambiguous and should be clarified as follows:
1. No permit or fee should be required to photograph in areas where the public in general is allowed.
2. No permit or fee should be required for photographers who use cameras on a speculative basis to photograph or film without an immediate market outlet for their work. Such activities are not a “commercial use or activity.”
3. No permit or fee should be required for news-gathering in general or for journalists on assignment for editorial purposes (See letter from National Press Photographers Association)
4. Permits and/or fees may be required when the photography or filming involves product or service advertisements, the use of models, actors, sets, or props, damage to resources, unacceptable health or safety risks, or significant disruption of normal visitor uses.
5. Overly vague and subjective policy criteria such as those found in 45.1c(5)(a), (b) and (c) should be eliminated from the proposed policies.
Please feel free to encourage other nature photographers to do the same. If you have any additional comments you would like to share with NANPA, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NANPA appreciates your help on this issue and will keep you posted as we strive to protect the rights of all photographers to enjoy and photograph on our nation’s public lands.
For a Press Release, please see NANPA USFS Press Release.
North American Nature Photography Association
618-547-7616 • email@example.com
I thought I knew all there was to know about strip mining, since I grew up in coal country in a mining family and even spent some time selling truck parts to the mining industry early in my career. Then in 2009, I was invited by members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and St. Vincent’s Mission to go on a tour of a mountaintop removal (MTR) site in Floyd County, Kentucky, with a group of students from Berea College. I was not prepared for what I saw that morning.
Yes, it was a strip mine. But it was a strip mine on steroids. It went on for miles. At the end of the tour, I was asked by Sister Kathleen Weigand from St Vincent’s Mission if I would consider doing a book on MTR, and I immediately said yes.
Approximately 500 mountains and more than 2,000 miles of streams already had been destroyed by MTR throughout the southern Appalachians. My research revealed that MTR was not an isolated problem in Kentucky. It had affected all of coal country. Furthermore, legislation passed to accommodate the coal industry had the potential to affect water quality across the United States, making MTR a national problem.
A number of scientific papers were published in 2009 on the impact MTR was having on the waters of Appalachia and public health. President Obama had just taken office, and I expected that the EPA would finally be allowed to do its job and put an end to this mining practice. I was wrong, and six years later, MTR is still going strong.
Since the purpose of my project was to raise awareness and educate the public about MTR, I decided that a book—added to several books and powerful documentaries I knew were already in production—might not be the best way for me to get the story out. I decided to take my project in a slightly different direction: a fine art exhibit that would focus on the beauty of the region and what could be lost.
I reasoned that a traveling art exhibit could reach a different and broader audience and have a better chance to be viewed—not only by those against MTR, but also by those supportive of the mining industry. I partnered with Appalachian Voices and The New River Conservancy, two organizations working to protect the region, and with SouthWings—an NGO (nongovernmental organization) located in Asheville, North Carolina, which provided my flights. Funding for the exhibit came from grants provided by Art for Conservation and The Blessings Project Foundation.
In 2013, the exhibit, “Lost on the Road to Oblivion, the Vanishing Beauty of Coal Country,”opened at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University. I collaborated with then-poet laureate of North Carolina, Joseph Bathanti, and the exhibit included 13 of Joseph’s poems in addition to 59 of my prints.
Joseph’s and my collaboration continues, and he has agreed to write poems about more of the prints in the exhibit. We are currently working on exhibit scheduling for 2015-2016. Oh, and remember the book that got the project going? We’re revisiting that idea as well.
Carl Galie is a North Carolina photographer who has worked on conservation issues for the past 19 years. Carl was awarded the first Art for Conservation Grant in August 2010 for his project “Lost on the Road to Oblivion, The Vanishing Beauty of Coal Country.” In March 2014, Carl received Wild South’s Roosevelt-Ashe conservation award for journalism for his work documenting mountaintop removal of coal in the Appalachians.
“Drones,” my article on the commercial use of drones for photography, appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Currents. While at that time it seemed clear that such use was prohibited under existing FAA Advisory Circulars and Policy Statements, a recent decision (March 6, 2014) by an administrative law judge with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that the FAA had not undertaken the required steps to give legal effect to those circulars and statements. Thus, at the moment there is no federal law, regulation, policy or circular prohibiting the use of drones.
The March decision involved a $10,000 fine imposed by the FAA on photographer Raphael Pirker who used a drone to film a commercial at the University of Virginia. While the FAA has repeatedly claimed that flying a drone for commercial purposes is illegal, this was the first and only time the agency had attempted to impose a fine.
For the moment, at least, there appears to be no prohibition on the commercial use of drones for any purpose, including, as one commentator noted, for “beer deliveries”—at least under federal law. But before you begin sending your drones skyward to indulge in a commercial or noncommercial photographic undertaking, be sure you check state and local laws. Many state legislatures and local governments have been considering laws to restrict their use, and some laws may already be in effect.
It is unclear just what the FAA will do next, but it is likely to appeal or establish an emergency rule to prohibit commercial use of drones until it can develop appropriate regulations covering such use as it has been directed to prepare by Congress.
Bernard Friel is a charter member and past president of NANPA who also served on the board of the NANPA Foundation. A retired lawyer, Bernie has been a serious nature photographer for more than 50 years.
Story and photograph by Weldon Lee
Prejudice is not limited to religion and racial ethnicity. It also finds targets among our wild brothers and sisters, not the least being the gray wolf. Wolf eradication can be traced back to the Middle Ages in Europe. It’s not surprising that it lifted its ugly head again as Europeans began arriving in the New World.
According to PBS, “By the middle of the twentieth century, government-sponsored extermination had wiped out nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Only a small population remained in northeastern Minnesota and Michigan.” This came about as a result of wealthy livestock owners wielding their influence over policymakers in Washington, D.C., and demanding a wider grazing range.
In spite of Congress providing protection for wolves under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, wolves are still being killed.
The endangered species protection for gray wolves was repealed in six states. What followed over the last two years was the killing of more than 2,600 wolves. Now the government wants to delist gray wolves in practically the entire Lower 48. Continue reading
NANPA’s executive director Susan Day says NANPA would not be as successful without Richard Halperin’s professional leadership and sharp legal mind. “He is a consultant at NANPA and NANPA Foundation board meetings,” says Susan. “Richard shares his editing and public speaking skills for NANPA’s benefit, and he spends countless hours on committees. He is an advocate for professional nature photographers and NANPA’s liaison with the photo industry on litigation (ASMP, PACA, PPA).” Here’s the eNews interview with Richard Halperin.
What is your “day job?”
I’m a partner in a New York law firm. My practice mostly involves tax law, including a lot of cross-border issues, estate planning, intellectual property and art law.
What committees have you served on, when, and what positions have you assumed?
I’ve been on the Finance Committee and the Executive Committee and now serve as chair of the Nominations Committee. I’ve served as a board member, as treasurer and as president. Continue reading
Story and Photographs by Kevin Fitz Patrick
I remember coming to my first NANPA Summit in Corpus Christi and being overwhelmed by the Art Wolfes and the Robert Ketchums. Although I had been a nature photographer for more than 25 years, I had been working in a small part of the Appalachians most of the time. I had not been to Africa or South America. I hadn’t even been outside North Carolina, so how could I say I was a real nature photographer? Then I met Susan and Richard Day, nature photographers from Illinois who, at the time, shot mostly on a 63-acre property. It was then I realized that it was not about how much of the world you covered but how much you loved the place you photographed. I remember Susan telling me that it was about your niche. Finally, as I start my 70th year—my 46th as a photographer—I can name my niche!
I am a conservation and Bio Blitz photographer. The All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) is an attempt to document and identify all biological species living in a defined area. The effort in the Smokies has become the prototype for species inventories worldwide and has inspired the Bio Blitz; 24-hour species inventories conducted by professional scientists in collaboration with public volunteers. The volunteers can include school children, their instructors, families and even their grandparents. Continue reading