June 15 is Nature Photography Day, a time to promote the enjoyment of nature photography and to reflect on how photos can be used to further the cause of conservation. NANPA celebrated the first Nature Photography Day (NPD) back in 2006 and, over the past 15 years, there have been many ways the day has been observed—not just in North America but across the globe as well.
This is the continuation of a conversation between Dave Huth, who serves as co-chair of NANPA’s Conservation Committee and Twan Leenders, an accomplished herpetologist and photographer, who serves as RTPI’s Senior Director of Science and Conservation. He has authored several books, including Amphibians of Costa Rica –A Field Guide and Reptiles of Costa Rica – A Field Guide, both through Cornell University Press. See part one of the conversation here.
In 1994, Roger Tory Peterson – an ornithologist and artist famous for his innovative and popular field guides – convened a gathering of more than 100 photographers for conversation about how nature photography might meet the challenge of conservation in the years ahead.
The result of this gathering, held at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York, was the incorporation of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).
Today, RTPI carries on Peterson’s passion for conservation, education, and the arts. Twan Leenders, an accomplished herpetologist and photographer, serves as RTPI’s Senior Director of Science and Conservation. He has authored several books, including Amphibians of Costa Rica –A Field Guide and Reptiles of Costa Rica – A Field Guide, both through Cornell University Press.
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.
Once, in a tongue-tied moment, I used the phrase “photography with a porpoise”, but what I really meant to say was “photography with a purpose”. In the tradition of Ansel Adams, Phillip Hyde, George Masa (yes, you may have to look him up) and a long list of photographers who have utilized their photography to advocate for conservation of wildlife and landscapes, NANPA photographers continue to use photography as a medium of communication, nature appreciation, and environmental protection – yes, part of our mission statement.
“If you were alive in 1970, more than one in four birds have disappeared in your lifetime.” So begins a Cornell Chronicle article about a new study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. That loss represents about three billion birds, across the US and Canada and across all biomes. Researchers examined decades of data on 529 species and found massive declines (53% loss) in the numbers of grasslands birds as well as big drops (37%) in shorebirds. As Ken Rosenberg, lead author of the study said, “It’s a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife. And that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment.”
The birding community lost a treasure on March 25 with the passing of Bill Thompson III. Bill was Co-Publisher and Editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest magazine for years where many NANPA members licensed their photos. Not only was Bill instrumental in helping photographers and writers, he also worked tirelessly devoting his life to creating awareness of and conservation of birding worldwide. I was privileged to know Bill as a friend for nearly 30 years. He was a NANPA member in the early days and attended summits to find photographers and writers for the magazine. At the 1995 NANPA Forum in Ft Myers, Florida; Bill, Richard Day, and I were hanging out together and planned to eat together at the closing banquet. The Forum organizers were not prepared for the number of people that showed up for that historic meeting, and there weren’t enough tables or food that night. We waited a long time while the hotel set up more tables; and we finally ended up crammed in front of the room at an angle partially behind the stage –which didn’t really matter, because by that time everyone in our new group of friends had made the most of the situation and were having a great old time. While we waited for our food, which ran into the evening festivities on the stage after everyone else had finished eating, Bill entertained us by balancing a spoon on his nose and asking how many others could do it. I know I have a photo somewhere (probably on a 35mm slide buried in a box) of our entire table playing “Spoon Bill” with Bill Thompson. That’s the kind of guy he was, and those are the kinds of stories and memories that are born at NANPA meetings.
As we celebrate NANPA’s 25th Birthday #happybirthdayNANPA this year, our hope is that everyone associated with NANPA has fond memories and stories. We started off with a big birthday cake at the Las Vegas Summit; and this month, in keeping with the “25th” theme, we selected the 25th new member to join NANPA in 2019—Alyssa Kline. Alyssa’s gift for NANPA’s birthday is a print copy of 2019 Expressions, which features photos of this year’s Showcase winners. Welcome to the NANPA family, Alyssa!
It’s hard to believe, but NANPA’s 26th election of our board of directors is taking place now. You have until April 20 to vote to fill vacancies of Sean Fitzgerald and Ted Moreno, whose terms end on June 30. Five candidates are on the ballot: Ted Moreno (who is eligible for a second term), John Reed, Alice Robertson, Trent Sizemore, and Dawn Wilson. Login https://www.nanpa.org/members/members.php to the members’ area of the website, read their bios and nominations questionnaires, and cast your vote.
We’re proud to announce the completion of NANPA’s Conservation Handbook this month. This is first in a series that will be ongoing, and we are grateful to the Conservation Committee for developing, producing, and introducing this series. Check it out here. https://www.nanpa.org/members/members.php
On June 15, NANPA will observe its 14th Nature Photography Day. We’ll be holding a photo contest with some nice prizes, but Nature Photography Day is not just about contests. It’s about getting as many people outside as possible to enjoy nature through photography. We’ll be sending media releases and doing a big social media push to let everyone know. In past years, National Parks, nature centers, camera clubs, and civic groups have organized events around Nature Photography Day. Many of these festivals and celebrations use local speakers and instructors to teach attendees how to photograph nature. You can help spread the word in your area too (and maybe pick up a teaching gig!) so watch your emails for more information in the coming weeks.
As we enter a new season, I hope you’ll have many opportunities to explore and experience the rebirth of life after a long winter. As nature photographers, seeing and documenting the natural world is part of who we are. Cherish those special moments and the people you meet along the way.
Not all conservation photographs are taken for the same reasons and purposes. Your particular goal will determine what sort of approach you use for each shot.
Story and photos by Dave Huth
When people learn I’m a “conservation photographer,” they may form many different ideas about what my pictures look like.
No matter what they’re thinking, they’re probably right!
Photography can support the work of conservation in many different ways. Each makes good use of a certain kind of photograph. When I’m in the field, I try to keep in mind the particular ways my pictures might meet a conservation goal — and I set up my shots accordingly.
We recently asked a cross section of NANPA members whether Instagram and its social media cousins had changed anything about their nature photograph and, if so, how. Did it change their approach to photography, to sharing images, to marketing their business? Did it change the type of images they created or the way they processed images? We’ll be posting the answers in a series of blogs over the next few weeks.