7 Things Professional Nature Photographers Want You to Know About Visiting National Parks

Respect the rangers when they are stopping traffic to give wildlife some space, like for this grizzly bear and her cubs crossing in Grand Teton National Park. © Dawn Wilson

Tourists have been flocking to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other nature areas in record numbers since the coronavirus pandemic began—which is both a reason to celebrate and potentially a cause for concern. Whether you’re new to these areas, a frequent visitor, or somewhere in between, don’t pack up the car until you read this.

1. We’re thrilled to see you enjoying nature. 

The increase in park visitors is obvious to us as nature photographers, in part because we’re sometimes in the field from before sunrise to after sunset and see the crowds, and in part because park efforts to manage those crowds—like timed-entry reservations—have changed the way we do our jobs. But we’re excited to see you here and certainly are willing to share our love for these amazing spaces. 

Continue reading

NANPA Foundation Offers Online Portfolio Reviews

Ad for photo reviews

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Collecting Instagram likes and compliments from mom and aunt Betty might feel good, but probably won’t make you a better photographer. You can take a class or go on a workshop, but those can be expensive and you may not get much one-on-one time with an instructor. Instead, one of the best ways to learn where you are and how you can improve is to have a portfolio review. In a review, a professional photographer, editor, or agent examines a selection of your images and provides critique, feedback, and advice. Portfolio reviews are often expensive, though many photo conferences include portfolio reviews as options. You, however, can get one at a very reasonable cost, without the time, travel, and expenses of a conference through the NANPA Foundation.

Continue reading

Being Different, Being Powerful, Being you

Photo of a horse galloping across a hill covered with small bushes and brush. This wild palomino stallion running free in Sand Wash Basin, Colorado was one of the last horses I photographed before the roundup. © Dawn Wilson
This wild palomino stallion running free in Sand Wash Basin, Colorado was one of the last horses I photographed before the roundup. © Dawn Wilson

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

First, my apologies for this late blog post this month. It seems every year I get to the end of summer and freak out about all the things I didn’t finish on my to-do list or wish list before the leaves start turning gold and orange. This year was no different.

Continue reading

Be a Better Naturalist featuring Alyce Bender

The Nature Photographer episode #19 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Alyce loves photographing mustangs in fall and leads photo tours to help others discover and photograph these living legends of the American West © Alyce Bender

Full-time nature photographer Alyce Bender reveals her secret to better wildlife images and to traveling safely alone: be a better naturalist. Hear how observing animal behavior helps Alyce stay aware of her surroundings and anticipate a great action photo. Plus, find out how boredom in the field and a desire to make the best of an imperfect opportunity—like a pronghorn in harsh light—inspire Alyce’s most creative imagery. This expert car camper and military veteran has lived all over the world, including 10 months traveling the U.S. in an RV with her two dogs. Hear about some of her favorite locations, including where she went this summer—logging 12,000 miles in just 11 weeks!

Continue reading

Get Your Story Out There featuring Morgan Heim

The Nature Photographer episode #18 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Image from conservation and adventure film Deer 139 © Morgan Heim

Conservation photographer and filmmaker Morgan Heim knows how to tell a story. It might take climbing 25 feet up the Astoria-Megler Bridge at slack tide to attach two time lapse cameras over the Columbia River—known as “the Graveyard of the Pacific”—or following a mule deer on an 85-mile migratory path over the Wyoming Range and Salt River Range, but getting the story and getting it out into the world are two of Morgan’s specialties. The keys, she tells co-hosts Dawn Wilson, Michael Mauro, Ron Hayes, and Jason Loftus, include finding the collaborators who can do what you can’t and building buy-in for yourself as an individual, not just the product you’re trying to produce. Learn more about her conservation filmmaking class, her “half-assed ideas” notebook, and the double-crested cormorants project that she’s working on now. 

Continue reading

Olympics Shed Light on Pressure to Succeed

Photo of a female moose crossing a body of water. The water comes up to her knees. There is a forest background. Moose are one of my favorite animals to photograph, and I spend quite a bit of money and time while racking up miles on my truck looking for them. Is it worth it? It is for me personally. © Dawn Wilson
Moose are one of my favorite animals to photograph, and I spend quite a bit of money and time while racking up miles on my truck looking for them. Is it worth it? It is for me, personally. © Dawn Wilson

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

A couple of weeks ago, I had a very personal conversation with a friend and fellow photographer about photographer burnout. We discussed where she was with her photography, why she was feeling like she wasn’t achieving her goals, the pitfalls of comparing your own work to other photographers, the thoughts of walking away from photography, and the source of all this stress and concern.

Continue reading

Are You Physically Prepared for Field Work?

The Nature Photographer episode #17 on Wild & Exposed podcast

There are lots of ways to prepare your body for field work, even a simple daily walk on uneven terrain can help. © Jason Loftus

Dawn Wilson, Ron Hayes, Jason Loftus, and Mark Raycroft talk about daily hikes, canoeing, cycling, or even hiring a personal trainer for targeted HIIT training to prepare for the unique demands of a specific trip. How do you prepare for rugged terrain, high elevations, heavy camera gear, or simply staying hydrated? Hear how these photographers build endurance and strength and reduce the risk for injury for those grueling days when the pedometer hits 20,000 steps. “The more fit that you can be and the more prepared that you can be, the better your opportunities are.”

Continue reading

What About Used Gear?

The Nature Photographer episode #16 on Wild & Exposed podcast

In this episode, the team tackles a listener-submitted question. Bob wants to buy a 600mm lens, but the price is steep…should he consider a used one? Find out what criteria our co-hosts use to answer that question for themselves, what kind of research they do on used gear and sellers they don’t know, and why the answer for a glass purchase might be different than a camera body. Plus, how having a solid network helped Ron get a $12,000 lens for $3,000, how “refurbished” differs from used, and other options you might not have considered.

Continue reading

Eye Tracking or Single-Point AutoFocus?

The Nature Photographer episode #15 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Dawn Wilson, Ron Hayes, Jason Loftus, and Mark Raycroft tackle another listener question in this short episode. With newer mirrorless cameras, do you still use single-point autofocus and anticipate the location of the animal’s eye? Hear which mirrorless cameras have the best eye tracking functions and in which situations it works best. Plus, find out why Mark is a late adopter of new technology and what even the mirrorless users in this group are doing in high risk/high reward situations in the field. You’ll also hear about a Canon April Fools’ Day joke that actually came to fruition.

Sometimes the camera chooses a bit differently than I would…it’s still just a tool for the photographer.

Continue reading

Giving Pause featuring Clay Bolt

The Nature Photographer episode #14 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Fuzzy-horned bumble bee (Bombus mixtus), Idaho © Clay Bolt

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. 

Continue reading