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VOLUNTEERS OF NANPA: Jeffrey R. Botkin

By September 8, 2014No Comments

Jeff-Botkin-1What is your “day” job?

I am on the faculty of the School of Medicine at the University of Utah, where I chair the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities. I am a pediatrician by training, although I no longer see patients.

Much of my time is devoted to ethical issues in medicine, particularly in human genetics, in pediatric medicine and in the conduct of biomedical research. Nature photography has been a long-standing interest of mine, and it has been fun to be involved in the many ethical issues in nature photography through NANPA.

What NANPA committees have you served on—when, and what positions have you assumed?

I have served on the Ethics Committee for about ten years and have chaired the committee for the past six years.

What was it about this committee that interested you?

NANPA has supported a vigorous conversation about a number of ethical issues in nature photography. In our digital age, there are interesting questions about boundaries of the digital manipulation of images. There also have been active debates about image captioning, the use of game farms for “wildlife” images, and whether baiting and other manipulations of the natural environment are ethically appropriate. The work of the Ethics Committee to support this dialogue within NANPA has been interesting and rewarding.

What were the responsibilities you assumed?

The Ethics Committee is responsible for drafting position statements for consideration by the NANPA Board, such as the statement on Ethical Field Practices and Truth in Captioning. We also have been involved in evaluating allegations by NANPA members about unethical field practices by nature photographers, although our general role is not as the “ethics police” for the association. Developing educational sessions for Summit meetings on ethical issues in nature photography also has been an important role for the committee. We are currently considering an update to the statement on Ethical Field Practices.

What were your greatest accomplishments or the highlights thus far of what you have done for NANPA?

A highlight for me was the session at the McAllen Summit meeting in 2011, organized by the Ethics Committee, which addressed the ethics of digital image manipulations in nature photography. The participants on the excellent panel included Jack Dykinga, John Nuhn and Sonia Wasco. We managed to have a packed room and an active but polite debate. Nature photographers make up a diverse community, so it is essential to have organizations like NANPA that welcome dialogue about controversial issues. It has been a privilege for me to work in an organization with fellow members who are truly dedicated to the welfare of our natural environment and wildlife–in addition to their own welfare as nature photographers, whether professionals, students or part-timers like me.

How long have you been a NANPA member?

I have been a NANPA member since 1999 when I attended the fifth Annual Summit in San Diego. I am looking forward to returning to San Diego for the nineteenth Summit and Trade Show next February.

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