“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” –Tom Fishburne of the marketoonist
Are you using your NANPA membership to market your photography business? There are some obvious and some not-so-obvious ways to do so. If you’re not, you aren’t maximizing the return on your membership investment.
Bill Kracov photographed these egrets back in 2015 but only recently posted the shot to the NANPA Facebook group where the 21,000 members showered it with more than 1,500 interactions and 124 comments, and counting. It was one of the most popular posts in the group during April. So, what makes it so engaging? To find out, we talked with Kracov.
Great grey owls are elusive, majestic birds that are on many photographers’ bucket lists. Even with a great subject, however, it takes more than an average photo to grab viewers’ attention and evoke a response. Ann Kramer’s image of a great grey owl in Yellowstone sparked nearly a thousand reactions, 85 comments, and 48 shares from members of the NANPA Facebook Group. So, what is it about this photo that connected with so many people, so strongly? What drove social media engagement? Not long ago, Kramer shared some of her thoughts with us.
NANPA member Ken Conger lives in Virginia, but you might find him anywhere from the mid-Atlantic to the Arctic, camera in hand, in search for the next great nature photo or teaching classes in nature photography. In our series exploring what drives social media engagement, we have looked at popular images that were the result of repeated visits to a location and pure serendipity. Conger’s photo is the result of careful planning, experience and an intimate knowledge of his subjects. The result? Spectacular! This photo garnered more than 1,000 likes, 195 comments and 58 shares in the NANPA Facebook Group.
NANPA member Susan Manley lives in Maywood, close to Los Angeles, California. When she posted this photo (of a pelican in water that was reflecting colors from a nearby boat) in NANPA’s Facebook group, she wasn’t thinking it would be one of the top performers. But it generated a lot of engagement, garnering more than 700 likes, 37 shares and 128 comments. With almost 21,000 members and dozens of posts each day, it isn’t easy to generate a lot of buzz there but, with the right kind if image, it’s possible. In a continuing exploration of what drives social media engagement, we checked in with Susan.
Certain photos get tons of engagement on social media—likes, shares, comments. Others don’t. Why? What is it about these photographs that grabs viewers’ attention enough to comment or share? What can we learn from them? NANPA’s Facebook group has more than 20,000 members and dozens of posts each day. It’s an active community of nature photographers and people who enjoy great nature photography. This article is the first in a series in which we take a closer look at the most engaging photos from the group and see if we can tease out why they had such an impact.
Keith Freeburn posted his photo of two raccoons on September 13th and it was an immediate hit. To date, it’s garnered more than 1,300 likes, 109 comments and 191 shares. We asked Keith to tell us a little about himself and reflect on why this photo just took off.
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.