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Spring Reading

By April 4, 2022April 19th, 2022No Comments

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

I have about 90 days left as President of NANPA. There is still so much I want to accomplish but I know that the Board and NANPA team have accomplished so much in the last two years, including successfully navigating NANPA through the pandemic.

But what about that photo of the jar of rocks and sand?

I recently read a book called “What the heck is EOS.” In that book, there is a chapter called What Is Most Important Right Now? The author talks about a science experiment conducted by Dr. Stephen R. Covey and reported in his book “First Things First”. The concept is this: if you have a small collection of rocks, pebbles and sand, put them in a jar. If you put the sand in first, then the pebbles, followed by the rocks, everything won’t fit. If you, however, start with the large rocks, then the pebbles and finish with the sand, everything amazingly fits because it all filters in together, filling in gaps between each item.

Those larger rocks represent the most important things you need to finish. The smaller pebbles represent the things that need to get done but aren’t necessarily the top priority. The sand are those annoying things that seem to fill our day with urgency yet we reach the end of a work day and ask, “Why do I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything today?”

Identify your rocks. The rocks may be big projects that require a lot of pebbles to complete but anything you do should work towards successfully completing those rocks.

But it wasn’t just this book that I enjoyed recently. Here are two more to check out to fill in your downtime in between working towards your rocks:

  • “A Life on Our Planet” by Sr. David Attenborough: powerful, depressing yet full of words of wisdom giving hope for our planet
  • “A World on the Wing” by Scott Weidensaul: fantastic read for anyone interested in amazing facts about birds and the challenges they face around the world
Photo of a jar full of rocks and sand. What are your most important things — business or personal — for the next 90 days? © Dawn Wilson

What are your most important things — business or personal — for the next 90 days? © Dawn Wilson

Losing a Legend

I have mentioned it before but being a nature photographer is a wonderful way to document how nature changes every day. And nature definitely constantly evolves — both for good and bad. Climate change certainly instigates a plethora of changes these days but just the natural process of things creates change too.

Big Kahuna, the bull elk in the above photo, captured the eyes of many wildlife photographers and viewers in Rocky Mountain National Park. A park biologist estimated he was at least 12 years old, an age that put him beyond the average age for a bull elk.

But it wasn’t just his age that was amazing; it was the length, size and mass of his antlers and his personality. He would show up each year in late August and command the meadow of Moraine Park. For years he was one of the first to show up and one of the first to leave before the rut was over but when he did show up, the cows flocked to him. One year he had a harem of at least 90 elk for several days. Other bulls would take a wide berth around him to avoid his potential defenses.

Big Kahuna, as this elk was nicknamed in 2017 by a fellow Colorado photographer and friend, lost his life to a mountain lion in mid-March after more than 12 years living in Rocky Mountain National Park. © Dawn Wilson

Unfortunately, in September 2021, another bull decided to challenge him, and Kahuna lost. He suffered a pretty bad injury that we thought would be the end of the impressive bull.

He was occasionally spotted during the fall and winter — once in October 2021 and again in early March 2022. But then photographers lost track of him after a snowstorm on March 9. His body was discovered on March 15 surrounded by mountain lion tracks in the same meadow where we watched him for so many years.

It is hard to estimate how many people photographed Kahuna but photographers of all levels have photos of him. Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park from all over the U.S. have been posting memorials for Kahuna on Facebook and Instagram. And there is now a task force established to raise funds to get a memorial statue created in his honor. Kahuna made an impression and he will live on for many more years in the genes he passed on and the photos people took.

That is the power of nature photography. It continues to tell the story of our wild planet. So keep taking those photos and keep telling those stories. You never know when your subjects might be gone.

This is one of the first photos I took of Kahuna that I have found in my image collection so far, taken during the fall rut in 2017. He will be missed in the meadows. © Dawn WIlson

New NANPA Website

If you haven’t already noticed, there is a new NANPA website. We have been quietly rolling it out as content gets finalized and the anticipated bumps in the road get resolved but I encourage you to take a look at it. There are many new opportunities to network, share your work, learn about other members and pick up new photography skills.

One of the most notable improvements is the member portfolio. Check that feature out and start creating your portfolio today with up to 25 of your favorite images or photos that market your work, tours and workshops.

And remember that there are so many ways NANPA can help you market your photography business:

  • Tag your Instagram photos with #NANPApix for a potential feature on NANPA’s Instagram page
  • Submit your news to for NANPA’s newsletter and Facebook posts
  • Pitch an article and photos for a future NANPA handbook
  • Demonstrate your expertise by authoring a NANPA blog post
  • And a dozen other marketing opportunities available to you as a NANPA member

Glacier Gorge © Dawn Wilson

Get Involved

Do you want to get involved? Consider volunteering for a committee. There are numerous options available for a variety of interests. For more info about volunteering, visit

Keep letting our membership and marketing teams know about your projects. There may be ways to share the news, like writing a blog or being interviewed on the podcast.

Do you have ideas for events or topics you want to learn more about? Reach out to us through our contact form.

And be sure to recommend NANPA to your nature-loving friends and fellow photographers. Word of mouth is the number one way people learn about NANPA. New members can join online at

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein

Let’s stay positive. We are in this together.