It doesn’t have the granite domes of Yosemite or the geysers of Yellowstone, but Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts over 11 million visitors each year making it the most popular in the nation. That’s more than Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks combined.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tom Haxby, and for the next year I will be the President of the Board of Directors of NANPA. I’ve been a member of NANPA for over 10 years and have been on the Board of Directors for the last two. I have always enjoyed photography, but several years ago, after a career of almost 30 years as a natural resource manager, it was time to leave behind the 10 x 10 cubicle, endless meetings, toxic office politics and administrative tedium. So, I dove into nature photography full time and have not regretted for one minute the photographic adventures and time spent behind my camera. Along the way, there have been a few photos that have made the Showcase top 250 and a few other award winners as well as six weeks as an Artist-in-Residence in 2016 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There have been so many trips to the Smokies, that some thought that I am local to there. Not yet! I currently reside in the Traverse City area of Northern Michigan.
George Lepp reflecting on his career in a keynote at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit.
Last month’s Nature Photography Summit is over. Images from the trip have been processed. Gear and clothes have been cleaned and suitcases put away. Fortunately, there’s always something exciting we can look forward to. So, what’s next on NANPA’s hit parade?
At the Summit, NANPA announced that the next Nature Photography Celebration will be in Asheville, NC, April 19 – 22, 2020. The previous Celebration, in Jackson, WY, in 2018, featured location shoots, workshops, informative presentations, gear demonstrations and much more. Circle the dates on your calendar. More information will be coming.
NANPA celebrates Nature Photography Day on June 15th with a variety of events, from a photo contest to local workshops. This annual event encourages people to explore with a camera the natural world around them, whether that’s their own backyard, a local stream or a national park. Nature Photography Day promotes the enjoyment of nature photography and shows a wider public all over the world how images can be used to advance the conservation and protection of plants, wildlife and landscapes close to home and far away. Stay tuned for more information.
This year’s Showcase Competition kicks off August 1st. Exclusively for NANPA members, Showcase is your opportunity to win prizes, get your photos featured on NANPA’s website, blog and printed in Expressions, NANPA’s annual publication. You can see the top 250 images from last year’s competition, browse back issues of Expressions, or order your copy of this year’s Expressions. Get inspired and get out there shooting!
Throughout the year, NANPA offers several Regional Events, two- to four-day field tours led by outstanding photographers with intimate knowledge of the area and photographic opportunities. Attendance is limited. The June astrophotography in Arches National Park workshop is already sold out but you can still register for October’s workshop in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
NANPA also hosts a webinar series, open to members. The next webinar, VisionQuest Photography presented by Shane McDermott, will be on March 29th. Registration is free. You can also visit the webinar archives and view past recordings that cover a wide array of subjects. Have a nature photography topic you’re passionate about? Maybe you should contact us to present a future webinar!
NANPA’s Ethics Committee recently released guide to Ethical Field Practices. You can download a pdf of the guidelines or request cards pre-printed with the guidelines. In addition to helping us ensure we follow the best ethical practices, these documents make great handouts for camera clubs, Meetup groups and at other opportunities to spread the word about ethical nature photography. NANPA also has statements on Access to Public Lands and Truth in Captioning.
NANPA’s Conservation Committee has been busy, too. They recently launched the NANPA Citizen Science initiative, a database of science and conservation projects that welcome and can use the help of a nature photographer. Check it out. You, too, could be a citizen scientist! Know of a local citizen science project? Let us know so we can add it to the database. Coming soon is a Conservation Handbook.
NANPA sponsors a number of Meetup groups which bring people in the same area together to photograph nature. Check for one in your area and follow NANPA on the social media platforms of your choice.
As you can see, there’s always a lot going on at NANPA, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of NANPA’s member benefits. Are you taking advantage of all NANPA has to offer? One way to be sure is to check the New Member Resource Center, for an up-to-date listing of all the benefits and opportunities that come with your NANPA membership.
Danae Wolfe shows how you can do “Macro on a Budget” in an upcoming NANPA webinar.
Have you made your resolutions for 2019? What will you be doing to grow as a photographer and improve the quality of your work?
We all can find ourselves in a rut. Maybe you’re shooting the same subjects, in the same way, at the same places. Maybe your inspiration or creativity feels tapped out. Maybe you’ve hit a plateau and your photography isn’t improving like it used to.
January is a purely arbitrary time to reassess your photography, but it’s something we should all do every so often. So, why not a set of New Year’s resolutions?
The end of a year signals a time for reflection of the past months as well as anticipation of what’s ahead. As I review 2018 for NANPA, I’m amazed at the variety and number of events and services offered for a relatively small organization. Everything we do is coordinated by a handful of part-time contractors and around 100 volunteers.
Is there a photographer on your gift list this holiday season? Perhaps people are still asking you what you want?
Holiday gift guides for photographers are a dime a dozen, and most highlight the same things, whether sublime or ridiculous. How many times do you need to see a travel mug that looks like your 70-200 lens? Cutesy t-shirts with bad puns about photography? Have you seen enough instant cameras, clip-on smart phone lenses and mini portable printers to last you a lifetime?
If you’re looking for your standard photography stuff, you can check out the guides from your favorite camera store. But there are many more options. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few NANPA-related gifts, so we’ll start with those. Then I’ll follow with a few weird items that might make you laugh, but are things you can probably live without. Finally, I’ll conclude with a few items that you just might want to buy.
Nature Photography Summit: Great opportunities for photographers you won’t find anywhere else.
NANPA: the sublime
How about a year of NANPA membership? A great way to introduce a photographer friend to the benefits of our association. Or, perhaps some nice person could extend your membership for another year! There are a lot of great member benefits that make joining well worth your while.
A generous friend or relative could spot you a registration to the 2019 Nature Photography Summit, February 21-23, in Las Vegas, NV. Great speakers, timely workshops, options for Super Sessions and location shoots as well as opportunities to make connections with fellow nature photographers, photo editors, vendors and potential clients.
NANPA Regional Events are led by NANPA members with special knowledge of and expertise in the area.
Have a bighearted benefactor? Maybe they could send you off to photograph birds in Florida, fall foliage on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or starry night skies in Arches National Park at one of NANPA’s Regional Events.
If you haven’t hit your charitable contributions goal for the year, consider donating to the NANPA Foundation. Your money goes towards high school and college scholarships and grants that “allow photographers at all levels of experience to explore special nature-related photographic projects in their communities.”
The Photorito, a lens wrap that looks like a burrito.
Among the weird items for photographers, PHOTOLEMUR’s gift guide has a couple of my favorites: The Photorito Lens Wrap and the Go Pro Fetch. The former is a padded lens wrap that looks like a tortilla and makes your wrapped lens look like a burrito. And who doesn’t need that? The latter is a dog harness for a Go Pro, allowing your pooch to record a dog’s eye view of the world. Just in case you were curious how Fido experiences life.
Salt and pepper shakers in the form of 35 mm film canisters might be cute but does anyone really need a set that includes toilet paper, paper towel and tissue dispensers mimicking film canisters? Or a toilet paper dispenser shaped like a Polaroid instant film camera? Someone must, because you can buy each of them.
Another item of questionable utility is the Moman Cell Phone Clip, a bottle cap tripod for a smart phone. While one might appreciate the ability to use an everyday object to stabilize your iPhone or Android, the opportunity to not only knock them over but also get them wet does not appeal to an occasional klutz me.
Paper towel dispensers, a GoPro harness for Fido, and a water bottle tripod head are among the holiday gifts available this year.
I’ll leave you with one cool, yet more sensible, gift idea. Take a look at LenzBuddy lens caps (shown at the top of this article), which are customizable front and rear caps for a variety of lenses. If you’ve ever opened you bag and couldn’t distinguish between one lens and another, these might be just the ticket. You can even customize with your business name and logo! Better than a lens burrito!
PhotoPills and Photographer’s Ephemeris are photography planning tools that I simply must have on my phone. They’re $10 or less (there’s even a free desktop version of Ephemeris) so, if you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out.
Whatever you give or receive this holiday season, we hope the past year has been full of great nature photography and that the year ahead will be even better. Next year, I’m hoping for a camera bag shaped like a taco.
It all started back in October 1993, when ornithologist, artist and nature photographer, Roger Tory Peterson invited a group of nature photographers to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York. This was the first time that an organized group of nature photographers had assembled in one place, and more than 100 photographers showed up for panel discussions, networking, and presentations. This meeting was so well received that everyone wanted to do it again—and thanks to a ton of work and great organization—by April 1994, NANPA had a founding board, president, bylaws and mission, with plans underway for their first annual conference, which took place in Florida in January 1995. NANPA’s first awards were also bestowed at the 1995 conference when Roger Tory Peterson received NANPA’s first Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award, and Outdoor Photographer Magazine was honored with our first Community Recognition Award.
Traditionally, October is a relatively slow time in the NANPA office because so many photographers are out searching for fall color and wildlife. It’s also when people take vacations or squeeze in another workshop while the weather is cool, but not yet bitterly cold and blustery. For whatever reasons, this October was different – and busy – with member activity, phone calls, and questions.
In this month’s column, I’ll give a brief status report on what’s happening with NANPA’s events and programs.
2019 Showcase Competition
The 2019 Showcase Competition closed on October 17, and judging started soon thereafter. We received more than 3,600 entries from nearly 400 photographers, which is our highest participation since 2009. Judging has been completed, and winners have been notified and are now sending us their hi-res photos that will be published in Expressions 2019. Production of Expressions 2019 is underway, and barring any unforeseen delays, will be available in February. Members who submitted images in the competition can view the results by logging into the members area of the website. The Top 250 Winning Images will be displayed on the NANPA website beginning in January. Thank you to all who entered the competition; to judges Melissa Groo, George Lepp, and Joe and Mary Ann McDonald; Showcase Coordinator, Wendy Shattil; Showcase Web Developer, John Lock; and Project Manager, Teresa Ransdell.
We do have a few spots left for advertising in Expressions 2019. If you’d like to place an ad, contact Gina Head for rates and availability. Or download ad info here.
2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show
Registrations opened in early October for the 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show which will be held February 21-23, 2019 in Las Vegas. As usual, members wanting to ensure spots with their top choices of portfolio reviewers and to make sure they get in for Super Sessions and pre/post photo outings, registered early. Take a look at the speaker lineup and schedule for this Summit, check out the reviewer openings (A bargain at only $60 for 20 minutes one-on-one time with a pro!), and consider adding a Super Session (only $75 for a 3-hour class on a variety of great topics). We’ve heard of some great airfare sales to Vegas, and you can’t beat the room rate at the Westgate! NANPA will be emailing a series of Summit Snapshots to you in the coming weeks with announcements of any changes or additions to the program. Be sure to bookmark the Summit website and check back periodically because we’ll be making updates as they come up.
A few exhibitor booth spaces, advertising, and sponsorships are still available. More info.
NANPA Regional Events are almost full for 2018 and 2019. As of November 1, there are two spots left for the Bosque del Apache event with Cathy Illg in December and one spot left on the Florida Birding Workshop with Maresa Pryor Luzier in January. We still have spaces left for the fall 2019 Fall in Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Richard Day and Hank Erdmann. The Yellowstone Snowcoach Tour and the Arches Astrophotography Workshop are both sold out.
We took a short break from webinars this fall while photographers were traveling, but have a great lineup ready for the next few months. Topics include power marketing, video nature photography, timesaving tips with Adobe ACR or Lightroom, macro on a budget, and more.
Remember that all NANPA members can view past webinars in the members area of the website—including the latest in our Town Hall Series on Ethical Field Approaches for Nature Photography.
Those are the highlights from October, and we’ll continue to share new information on events, programs, and projects when it’s available.
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.
In the old days, not only did we have to walk through two feet of snow on our way to school (which was really tough for me because I lived in Tucson), but we didn’t have access to all the species and landscapes that photographers do today. If one has the money, there is now almost no place on Earth that cannot be reached and photographed with only a couple of days travel. Nature photography has indeed changed over the last 30 years, and I’m not just talking about technological advances in photo gear. I’m also referring to our subjects, our relationships with them, and our access to them. Most, if not all, of these changes have resulted from an exploding human population and the fact that we are increasingly mobile. Have these changes been good or bad? The answer is yes. The immediate conclusion most of us jump to is that a hordes of people are bad for the natural world, and this conclusion is not wrong. But, and this is a big but, lots of people can make nature photography better.