The Nature Photographer episode #14 on Wild & Exposed podcast
Conservation photographer Clay Bolt tells Dawn Wilson, Ron Hayes, and Mark Raycroft how he learned about the rusty-patched bumble bee and why he got involved in efforts to get it added to the Endangered Species list. Find out how this bee stopped the Atlantic Coast pipeline, what you can do in your own community to support native pollinators, and which SNL Weekend Update joke hit close to home for Clay. Plus, hear what happened when Clay and Eli Wyman went to Indonesia in search of Wallace’s giant bee—a species that hadn’t been seen in more than 35 years—and why your mobile phone may be the best conservation tool around.
It’s hard to believe that this fiscal year over! Today we welcome Dawn Wilson as NANPA’s next president as well as new board members Beth Huning, Trent Sizemore, and Kika Tuff. Lisa Langell will stay on for a second term and be a great mentor to the incoming members. I’m looking forward to working with and helping everyone achieve NANPA’s goals and dreams.
I have been a NANPA member for a year and a half. Even in that short time, NANPA and its supportive community have influenced me in many meaningful ways. Life seems to be full of wonderful flukes, and my introduction to NANPA was one such instance. One morning in November of 2012, when I was a high school senior, I received word from a fellow photographer of a great photographic opportunity that existed for high school students. Though just three days away from the deadline of NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program application, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I quite honestly remember thinking it looked too good to be true – a chance to spend a week in the field and at the NANPA Annual Summit, all the while learning and being inspired. I wondered to myself a little incredulously, How could I not have heard of NANPA before?It looks awesome!
Clay Bolt of Livingston, Montana has been named the 2019 Philip Hyde Conservation Grant recipient by the NANPA Foundation. Bolt’s award of $2,500 will be used to continue his study of bumble bees, specifically the effect of climate change on bumble bees in the Sky Islands in south-central New Mexico.
Paddling in Baja California Sur. Photo by Cathy Illg.
Based on their reputations alone I knew the keynote speakers at last month’s Summit in Las Vegas were going to be good, but their presentations surpassed my wildest expectations—brought tears to my eyes a couple of times. Of course, that might not be much of an endorsement. My wife, Cathy, says I’m a big crybaby at the best of times, while I maintain I’m just sensitive.
For several years now we’ve been hearing about problems with bees. Mass die offs. Colony collapse disorder. Potential shortages of hives for commercial pollination. In 2013, after hearing about the troubles bees were having, Clay Bolt started photographing bees around his South Carolina home. After posting photos of two tiny bees online, and finding people (even entomologists) couldn’t identify them, a new project was born, which led to Clay Bolt receiving this year’s Environmental Impact Award.
It all started back in October 1993, when ornithologist, artist and nature photographer, Roger Tory Peterson invited a group of nature photographers to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York. This was the first time that an organized group of nature photographers had assembled in one place, and more than 100 photographers showed up for panel discussions, networking, and presentations. This meeting was so well received that everyone wanted to do it again—and thanks to a ton of work and great organization—by April 1994, NANPA had a founding board, president, bylaws and mission, with plans underway for their first annual conference, which took place in Florida in January 1995. NANPA’s first awards were also bestowed at the 1995 conference when Roger Tory Peterson received NANPA’s first Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award, and Outdoor Photographer Magazine was honored with our first Community Recognition Award.
This is my last letter as president. Gordon Illg becomes president on July 1 and I look forward to working with him this coming year. NANPA is an amazing organization and I know under Gordon’s leadership, NANPA will continue to do great things for its members.
Why should you go to the Nature Photography Celebration?
As the April 9 early registration deadline nears for the Nature Photography Celebration in Jackson, Wyoming, I thought I’d write about questions we’ve been answering lately in the NANPA office.
First of all, it’s a NANPA event; and anyone who has ever attended a summit or regional event knows that they’re fun, educational, inspiring, and you get to hang out with a bunch of friendly nature photographers. Summits are primarily inside at a convention center or hotel, and regional events are outdoor field trips or workshops. Celebration combines the two—indoor presentations plus our schedule allows for free time each morning to photograph and spend time with other photographers and vendors in the field. Or have coffee or drinks together after hours in some of the cool watering holes in downtown Jackson.
Darkness turns to dawn. Birdsong breaks the silence of early morning. Wind-folded leaves shimmy before the arrival of a summer thunderstorm. Earthy smells rise up after the deluge has passed. The first spring wildflower breaks through a warming forest floor. Leaves blush into fall. A child is born. A baby’s stumbling first steps. The euphoria of a first crush and the pains of a first heartbreak. All of these moments contain seeds of beauty worth cultivating into art.
Even the passing of a loved one from this life can summon beauty to walk alongside the pain. Photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson famously understood the beauty that exists in moments of transition: the decisive moments that briefly materialize in the space between two passing planes of existence.
If you take a moment to mentally flip through the photos that really move you, I suspect that many of them are of transitional moments. In this regard, photography has an advantage over other forms of media. Film, for example, may be able to document processes in ways that are impossible for the naked eye, but photography can take that single “throw away” moment and make a monument of it.
A photographer who has the patience and discipline to observe, anticipate and capture these moments stands a high probability of creating images that will spellbind audiences and teach us something special about the world around us. The glue that binds two concurrent events together is as important as the events themselves.
Perhaps this is our art form’s greatest gift to the world.