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. 

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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.

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Summit Trivia: Fun Quiz

George Lepp and John Shaw are deep in discussion during the 2019 NANPA Summit conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo credit: Dawn Wilson
George Lepp and John Shaw are deep in discussion during the 2019 NANPA Summit conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo credit: Dawn Wilson

By Shirley Nuhn

How well do you know NANPA’s Summits?  Whether you’ve gone to only a few or have attended all of them, there are facts and just plain trivia you might have forgotten or never realized.  For part three of my blog on Summit history, I’ve put together a fun 20-question quiz with the help of my husband, John.  When you click on an answer, if it turns green, you’re right! If it turns red, well, try again. 

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Wildlife and Wild Lives featuring Joe and Mary Ann McDonald

The Nature Photographer episode #11 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Bengal Tiger © Joe and Mary Ann McDonald

2021 NANPA Lifetime Achievement Award winners Joe and Mary Ann McDonald have been studying, photographing, and writing about wildlife together for nearly 35 years. They’ve photographed the Seven Big Cats of the World four different years, and both have won in the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. In this episode, Joe and Mary Ann talk candidly with NANPA’s Dawn Wilson and Wild & Exposed‘s Mark Raycroft and Ron Hayes about their 107 treks—”so far,” Mary Ann is quick to add—to photograph mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Plus, hear what they’ve been photographing at home in Hoot Hollow during the pandemic and why they like Olympus gear.

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Husband and Wife Photographers Receive NANPA Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award

Photo of Joe & Mary Ann McDonald
Joe & Mary Ann McDonald

Joe and Mary Ann McDonald live in central Pennsylvania where the run their photography business. At NANPA’s 2021 Nature Photography Virtual Summit, they will be recognized with NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award in recognition to their contributions to the profession. They will also be keynote speakers. With 50 years of photography experience, Joe was a founding member of NANPA and has served on the board of directors. He’s written seven books and hundreds of articles. Mary Ann brings 30 years of experience and is the author or many children’s books on wildlife as well as being a Visiting Author in several programs. Their images have place 15 times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. They’ve led more than 100 photo tours to see mountain gorillas and were given the honor of giving a name to a baby gorilla in Rwanda’s “Kwitza Inza” ceremony, the highest honor one can achieve in mountain gorilla conservation. Previously, they have received NANPA Fellows Awards (Joe 2002, Mary Ann in 2010) and NANPA’s Outstanding Service Awards (2002).

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