It must be photo contest season. Hardly a day goes by without me seeing at least one notification about an upcoming photography competition. Some have substantial prizes, others offer recognition and exposure. Are they worth it? And what are you getting yourself into? The answers are in the fine print. You do read all the contest rules, don’t you?
Over the past two years, we have urged photographers to support the “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019” (the CASE Act). This bill would create a “small claims court” within the U.S. Copyright Office to handle copyright infringement claims from individual creators and small businesses. That would be enormously helpful for photographers and everyone in the creative community. It’s time to make one last push to get this bill over the finish line and time is of the essence.
This year has been a real roller coaster ride. From COVID-19 to a presidential election and from wildfires to hurricanes, we’ve been put through the wringer. It’s been a wild year for copyright decisions, too, with the pendulum swinging from decisions that horrified photographers to ones that reaffirmed the rights of visual artists.
Newsweek is now appealing. In light of the McGucken v. Newsweek ruling and Instagram’s clarification of its ToU, the court that heard the Sinclair v. Ziff Davis case has now reinstated Sinclair’s suit.
Recently, in Mango v. Buzzfeed, an appeals court ruled that photographer Gregory Mango was due statutory damages for copyright infringement and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by Buzzfeed. The online publisher had used a photo by Mango that had originally appeared, with attribution, in the New York Post. Buzzfeed used the same photo, without permission and without crediting the photographer. Read more here.
NANPA also advocates for the CASE Act and modernizing copyright law. See more about all that NANPA does to protect and enhance photographers’ intellectual property rights or tell us your copyright story here.
NANPA recently held two online town hall meetings with our members; one with professional nature photographers and the other with enthusiasts. These meetings and a recent e-mail discussion thread among our board members are part of our ongoing search for the answer to one question: How do we better connect with our nature photography community, both professional and enthusiast?
The reality is that this pandemic crisis has given members of the board of directors and staff time to slow down and think about where we are as an organization and where we are headed, and maybe that is not a bad thing. And, much like the photo of the roseate spoonbill landing, it may be awkward, but we will get it done.
How can we stay connected with nature through our photography when our ability to safely venture outside of our homes has been curtailed? How do we connect with other nature photographers who share our passion and inspire us when our opportunities to meet through regional events, meetups and nature photography celebrations have been suddenly swept away?
Eventually, we will get beyond this crisis and will again be able re-establish our connection with nature, cameras in hand, as well as network in-person with our fellow nature photographers. By this time next year (April 28-May 2, 2021), many of us will be finally gathering in Tucson, AZ, at the NANPA Summit to again meet and greet our fellow nature photographers.
Beyond the short term, there are longer-term questions, such as how can NANPA engage a wider audience in sharing and caring about nature through photography? And especially, how can NANPA successfully connect with the younger generation faced with living most of their lives in an increasingly stressed natural world? These long-term questions are the ones that are the most difficult to answer.
A few particular questions in the town hall meetings resonated with me. From the enthusiasts’ town hall meeting:
Does NANPA have a mentoring program? While NANPA does not have an official mentoring program, NANPA members often network to find others with similar areas of interest who may be willing to share their skills and experience. During these weeks that we’re unable to network in person, you may want to explore the member directory to look for nature photographers near you. Find a few and look at their websites. Follow them on social media and/or subscribe to their email lists. Meeting virtually in this way can put yourself in a good position to introduce yourself in person when restrictions are lifted. If you aren’t sure how to use the member directory in this way, this tutorial can help:
Does NANPA have a way for those with limited mobility to participate in photography events? This is something that the board has discussed, and I believe we can and should find a way to accommodate those who may have physical limitations. Our regional event in Badlands National Park, May 31-June 3, 2021, is wheelchair friendly, and that’s moving in the right direction.
And from the town hall meeting for professionals:
How can professionals increase their visibility? Our reach in several programs goes well beyond our members, making these excellent opportunities to get noticed. For example, anyone who belongs to NANPA’s Facebook Group can post images there, but NANPA members can also share promotional posts once a week when their membership number is included (check the group rules for specifics).
Host an Instagram takeover of NANPA’s account, and/or tag your Instagram photos with #NANPApix for an opportunity to be featured in our Instagram feed.
Write blog posts, give a webinar, and submit photos for the Showcase competition. Showcase winners are featured throughout the year on our website and social media accounts and are published in Expressions.
Unlike other photography organizations, NANPA is solely dedicated to nature photography.
Perhaps you enjoy using your photography to further conservation. Personally, NANPA has opened my eyes to how photography can tell a story about a conservation issue. That is why we published our Conservation Handbook and why we added a category in our Showcase competition for conservation photography.
Maybe you believe in our advocacy efforts to protect the rights of photographers or that educating photographers about ethics in nature photography is needed now more than ever.
Perhaps being a member means that you can purchase good insurance for your valuable photography gear. Improving your photography skills is a common desire of NANPA members, and there are many opportunities to improve your photography skills through online webinars, regional events, summits and our blog posts.
Perhaps as a professional, being a NANPA member increases your visibility. Publications such as our soon-to-be published handbook Make It Work: The Business of Nature Photography, helps established professionals reach new audiences and will give every photographer ideas and tools for improving your nature photography business.
Maybe the biggest benefit you get is just being part of a network of photographers with a passion for being out in nature and sharing the beauty and awesomeness of nature in photographs. Could it be that you just love nature and photography, and that is reason enough to want to join with NANPA in celebrating and promoting the joy and satisfaction of nature photography?
Whatever your reasons for belonging to NANPA, the board of directors, staff and many volunteers are working hard to make NANPA the place where you can connect with nature while connecting with a community of nature photographers.
Along with the bounty on the table tomorrow, most of us will be grateful for things like our family, health, home and hearth. We might also be thankful for the wonderful photographic opportunities that abound in this old world, even with all its problems (see A Nature Photographer’s Thanksgiving, Part 1). I am embarrassed to admit that sometimes missing from my list of things to be thankful for are the volunteers that make possible so many of the experiences I enjoy.
NANPA has worked long and hard to get Congress to pass the CASE Act (Copyright Alternative Small Claims Enforcement Act), which would provide photographers with the option of pursuing infringers in a small claims-type of process instead of federal district court. You can read more about how the CASE Act will help photographers here: https://www.nanpa.org/advocacy/intellectual-property/case-act/
The good news is that the CASE Act has picked up bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. It just passed through committee in the Senate and will soon come before the House Judiciary Committee. If it passes there, the Act will proceed to a final vote in both chambers.
In other words, this might actually happen!
Is it a done deal? Nope. Unfortunately the so- called protectors of an “open internet” have awoken. Backed with cash from Silicon Valley, an army of lobbyists, and a fear-mongering scare campaign they have descended on Washington D.C. to righteously proclaim that the CASE Act is just an evil plot to destroy the internet by unleashing copyright trolls on unsuspecting innocents. They screech that the “sky is falling” because photographers like you and me want to use it to go after innocent grandmothers who repost social media memes on their Facebook pages.
As we say in Texas, “I s#*t you not.”
Here is where you come in. Your voice will help drown out the nay-sayers and push this bill over the finish line. Over the next few weeks, NANPA is joining the “50 States in 20 Days” campaign to send specific messages to legislators in each state on a single, specific day. Be on the lookout for emails with specific instructions for the messages we would like you to send. Contacting your representatives will only take a few minutes, but will help make a huge difference.
Perhaps you’ve heard about the controversy swirling around The Vessel, a massive “sculpture” in the heart of Hudson Yards, a huge real estate development in Manhattan? It’s been described as an M. C. Escher drawing come to life and instantly became a favorite Instagram background for visitors to New York. You can learn more about it in the video above.
When you snag a ticket for admission to The Vessel, as in so many things in life these days, you agree to various terms and conditions. Nobody reads them, right? Well, someone did and found that, by buying a ticket, you were agreeing to terms that essentially gave ownership of your photo to the real estate development. The original terms stated that you were giving the company “the irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable right and license to use, display, reproduce, perform, modify, transmit, publish and distribute such photographs, audio recordings or video footage for any purpose whatsoever in any and all media (in either case, now known or developed later).”
Google Images will now include IPTC creator, credit and copyright information . . . if you have it in the image file. In Lightroom, Bridge and other software, you can apply IPTC metadata with presets.
In late September, Google announced that, in a major update to Google Images, it would be adding “rights-related meta data,” where available, to photos. Collaborating with CEPIC, a coordinating body of stock and news agencies, museums, libraries and art galleries, and IPTC, the “global standards body of the news media,” Google designed a way to access the Creator and Credit metadata for photos. That is, assuming you’ve included the metadata in your original upload. Google will also be adding copyright notices in the near future.
Susan Day at NANPA board meeting, Jacksonsville, FL. Photo by David Small.
Choices and Goals
Everyday we make choices. What to eat. What to wear. What to do. Nature photographers make choices on new equipment, how to pay for it, where to use it, how to compose an image, which tweaks to make during post-processing; and for some, how to make a living. Everyone’s bucket list is unique, and we take different paths to reach them–whether you’re a big-time goal-setter with spreadsheets and planners or a seat-of-the-pants winger.
Passion, planning, and drive play big parts in whether (and when) we take those fall landscape photos in the Rockies or photograph wildlife on an African safari.